The top 20 goals and purposes of sport

1. Enjoyment of those involved. It’s the reason we all signed up in the first place. At some point we saw someone hitting a home run or scoring a touchdown and thought to ourselves, “I want to do that…It looks like fun!”

2. Striving to Win- In professional Sport Athletes and Coaches are being paid to win. While winning should not be the main goal at the Youth, High school or College levels, making the effort and striving to win each contest should always be the objective.

3. Entertainment- Dating back to when Gladiators competed in the Roman Coliseum to current multi-million dollar stadiums people have been flocking to watch sport stadium for centuries. Technology such as Radio and Television have increased the popularity of Sport and have contributed to making it a big part of our world we live in today.

Sport shapes, inspires, and brings people together for a multitude of reasons but most importantly I believe sport is a vehicle in which we can teach and learn certain behaviors that will shape our character, the choices we make everyday and the people we will become. Through sport we learn and teach:

4. Love: When asked after winning the national championship what the difference in the game was Clemson Tiger Head Coach Dabo Swinney didn’t mention X’s and O’s or athletic ability but rather stated the difference in the game was Love. He told his team prior to kickoff, “Tonight we’re gonna’ win it because we love each other.”

Love is the most powerful word in the human language. While some coaches motivate and can get short-term results using fear, it does not achieve and produce the intrinsic motivation needed for those under their supervision to grind day in and day out. Using love creates a culture where people strive to be at their best simply because they enjoy coming to work/going to practice and they don’t want to let the people down they care about!

There are certain people who I would do anything for (family,close friends). These are people I truly love. Think about how great a team can be if the players love the coaches…they study their playbooks and give their all because they know the coaches are doing the same for them. Think about the players who never take a play off because they feel that each player and coach deserves their very best!

5. To focus on the Controllables!

In the field of competitive athletics and in life it is important to remember that there are things we can and cannot control. We cannot control the size or skill level of our opponents, the weather, the calls made my officials and much more. Worrying about things that we have no influence over is a waste of time and energy. However we can always control two things: our attitude and our effort.

6. Discipline. Discipline is not something done to someone for the purpose of punishment but rather daily practices that help individuals achieve their goals. Coaches and Athletes understand that you cannot become bigger, faster and stronger without lifting weights, running sprints and making daily life choices (diet, sleep, hydration) that effect who we become tomorrow. As the old saying goes, “Discipline is the fuel of achievement.”

7. Friendship- While I cannot recall every score or statistic from my short athletic career I can without hesitation rattle of the names of so many amazing people whom I developed life long friendships with as a result from competing in athletics.

Bonds form in sport as a result of people coming together who share the same interests and are striving toward a common goal. Just like a family, there are victories that are celebrated and defeats where members of the tribe comfort each other. Because you must rely on others, a good teammate always thinks of others first, holds people accountable and supports others during the high’s and low’s all characteristics of a true friend.

At the beginning of the season chances are you may not be a friend with everyone on the team however through the blood, sweat and tears something special occurs. It’s what Bill Curry (former Head football at The University of Alabama) refers to as the miracle of team.

“In the football huddle you will find America: black, brown, white, red, yellow, liberal, conservative, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist and Hindu. We are slim, fat, short, tall, fast and slow. You can take young men who may have been raised to hate each other and pretty soon they realize that sweat smells pretty much the same on everyone.”

8. How to Compete. Head Coach of The Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll has a philosophy to, “Do things better than they have ever been done before, with competition being the central theme driving us to maximize our potential.” Athletes and Coaches don’t only learn how to compete in games but also in practice.

9. Sportsmanship: As a high school tennis athlete I was shocked to learn that there were no referees. Instead each athlete made line calls for the opposing team. I’ll never forget my coach instructing us to always to give questionable calls to our opponent. Another great example of ethical behavior is when Central Washington’s Mallory Holtman carried Western Oregon’s Sara Tucholsky to home plate when she could not physically run the bases after hitting a home run. What a great example of how to act with Class and empathy.

10. Teamwork. In sport everyone has a role to play from the Head Coach to the last athlete on the depth chart. Each member of the team has a Commitment/Responsibility to the team. Some Individuals may shine brighter than others but teams win and lose together.

11. Goal Setting. Athletics creates an atmosphere where Coaches and Athletes strive toward team goals, like winning the championship or individual performance goals such as becoming an all-star. Goal setting and creating a plan to achieve those goals help athletes and coaches improve themselves each day.

12. Confidence- Through effective goal setting and accomplishing tasks Athletes and Coaches start to believe in their abilities and develop positive Self-Talk which translates to confidence.

13. Humility. Humility is a great characteristic of any leader. Sport can offer the chances to serve one another and also the platform to be humble in victory.

14. How to handle losing. While the goal of every contest should be to win, the reality is that we are all going to lose at some point in our lives. Trinity Lacrosse Coach Paul Assaiante believes that when we lose, that’s when the learning takes place. Losing forces you to evaluate your performance, correct your mistakes and pick yourself up to try again! Anyone can handle winning but it takes a mentally tough person to handle losing because it hurts.

15. Appreciation/Gratitude. Whether we are thankful for our abilities, opportunities or platform the right mindset allows us to be thankful whether we win or lose.

16. Motivation. Sport requires an unbelievable time commitment. It taxes both the body and mind and no matter how much someone loves their sport they need Intrinsic motivation to grind day in and day out.

17. How to handle Pressure- Legendary Pittsburgh Head Coach Chuck Noll defined pressure as ”something you feel only when you don’t know what you’re doing.” Many people create stress for themselves due to a lack of preparation and daily discipline. By practicing daily disciplines and attacking each day with enthusiasm Coaches and Athletes can rest easily knowing they are ready for each contest.

High performance psychologist Michacel Gervais teaches that another way to deal with stress is to keep what you’re doing in perspective. He said,“If we think that a moment in time defines us, we’ve walked right into a trap…No moment will ever define us, it’s a moment. Unlike the military where one slip could cause death, in sports 99% of the time we get to compete again.” Former MLB Closer Goose Gossage adds, “Every time I come into a game I think of my home in the Rockies, and that relaxes me. And I tell myself the worst thing that could happen is that I’d be home fishing tomorrow.”

In module 1 we learned from sports psychologists Ken Ravizza who published a study on the experiences of athletes during their “greatest moment” in sports. He found that 80% of the athletes said they felt no fear of failure. They weren’t thinking about their performance instead they were immersed in the activity.

18. Health- Health- It is common knowledge that participating in athletics will improve one’s muscular strength, endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and overall body composition. Besides just looking better in a swim suit you will also mentally feel better as a result in your participation in sport. The brain releases Endorphin’s and Dopamine that produce feelings of accomplishment during or after a hard workout and leave us satisfied when we’ve accomplished a task. But can’t we get the same results by joining a gym or purchasing a treadmill for our home? Yes, but we gain additional Health Benefits from Sport.

Regardless if it is an individual or team sport by participating we must spend an extraordinary amount of time with a particular group of people (Coaches, Teammates, Trainers, etc.) thus also repeating the benefits of the chemical oxytocin which is The feeling of friendship, love or deep trust. Simon Sinek writes in his book, Leaders Eat Last “The more time with spend with someone, the more we are willing to make ourselves vulnerable around them. As we learn to trust them and earn their trust in return the more oxytocin flows. In time as by magic, we will realize we have developed a deep bond with this person. Oxytocin boosts our immune system, makes us better problem solvers and makes us more resistant to the additive qualities of dopamine. Unlike dopamine, which is largely responsible for instant gratification, oxytocin gives us lasting feelings of calm and safety.” Not only do we improve physically but also gain mental benefits from sport. We develop skills and friendships that will continue to serve us long after the final whistle blows.

19. Procedure- How to following the rules of the Game but also team policies.

20. Risk Taking- At a youth basketball camp I learned the phrase, “The biggest risk in life is not to take a risk.” Sport is filled with risks. Suicide squeezes, Onside Kicks, Options, Going for 2 and Blitzes’ are all high risk but also high reward!

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