How do young people develop their character?
For many of us, team sports played a pivotal role. Through mentoring from coaches and daily interactions with teammates, we learned how to lead and motivate others, and the value of working together as a team. The ups and downs taught us how to respond to adversity, and the importance of perseverance, courage, compassion, and humility. We were taught to respect the game and to play with honor. Team sports helped to shape our values and prepare us for life.
The youth sports culture today largely is focused on results. The dominant message society is sending our kids is that there are winners and losers in life, and you had better be a winner. It’s about doing whatever is takes to win. There is little talk about winning with integrity.
This has led to a greater expectation for cheating, cutting corners, and circumventing rules in sports and society. Many people believe that to compete in today’s world, they have little choice but to play the game the way others play it, even if they think it is morally wrong.
We are losing our grip on competing honestly, fairly, and responsibly. Core values are being sacrificed in an effort to win.
Even Field is a 501(c)3 character education nonprofit organization. The purpose of Even Field is to cultivate integrity and ethical behavior in sports and life. Our Peer into Character® speaker series, forums, videos, and other programs, feature positive character messaging for children, teens, and the adults in their lives. The presentations combine the captivating nature of stories and the powerful influence of sports. Instead of whatever it takes to win, our message is that The Way You Win Matters. The way you compete, reach goals, interact with people, and do everything else in life, shows if you are a person of character whom others can trust.
What’s most important in youth sports are the social and emotional skills, character traits, and values that young athletes are developing. These are the attributes that will help them overcome obstacles, achieve goals, and form healthy relationships. Character is what will guide young people to value their integrity and develop a sense of duty beyond self interest.
Even Field’s Goals
- Establish The Way You Win Matters as the motto in youth sports
- Increase the number of team sports programs that consistently model character and integrity
- Cultivate ethical leaders as role models committed to positive peer influence
- Foster values-based reasoning skills that promote responsible choices in life
- Heighten media visibility of positive character in sports