The Lost Lessons of College Football

In Creating Happiness by Barbara Jacoby

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a real college football fan.  I will often have as many as 4 games on at the same time on any Saturday afternoon.  I enjoy the game and I really like the fact that the athletes are not paid professionals like the NFL players.  However, I was struck yesterday by one of the remarks from a commentator about how college football has become such a big business.  Although I was well aware of this, I did watch the games yesterday in a slightly different manner, noting the darker side of how some of the players were choosing to play and how some of the coaches were choosing to conduct themselves.  And that got me thinking about how the business of college football has affected the games for the players.

No one can deny that the business of college football has created an atmosphere of win at any cost.  The pressure is on the coaches to win or else they will lose their jobs.  Nothing else matters.  And as a result, the coaches are teaching that same thinking and philosophy to the athletes that they are coaching.  Not only is this attitude hurting many players who are forced to play through injuries that will affect them for a lifetime but also they are being fed a very distorted view of the real world when they are taught that winning is all that matters and if you are not a winner, you are a loser.

I was always of the opinion that sports were a great thing because they helped you to learn about what it is like to be part of a team, how you work together to achieve your goal, how you all support one another and how you learn to win as well as how to lose.  It was about sportsmanship and fair play and striving to do your best but it was never about doing whatever you want to stand out and to be a dirty player if necessary and certainly not winning at all costs, even if that means sacrificing your personal integrity.

Athletes who are being taught these values now are being set up to do poorly in the real world after graduation.  They are being taught that when you go on a job interview and don’t get the job, you are a loser.  And after 20 interviews, they believe that they are totally worthless and they give up, seeing no other alternative.  If they do find themselves in a position of authority in a company they will run their organization in the manner of pitting one employee against the other in order to obtain advancement rather than showing them the value of team work and how so much more can be achieved if everyone works together.  They will foster a mindset that if you have an idea, it is yours and if someone else doesn’t accept it then either that person is a loser or they will lose faith in their own abilities to come up with good ideas.  They will never learn that so much more can be achieved if you work as a group and have a brainstorming session where lots of different ideas are brought forth to expand the thinking and possibilities.  I could go on and on with many examples but I think that you get the point.

Life is not a win or lose proposition.  There are all sorts of ups and downs and peaks and valleys and good days and bad days.  You enjoy the good days and you learn from the bad days and you continue to grow in the knowledge that if you can successfully deal with whatever comes your way, you always are a winner.  If we are not sending out this message to the young people, then it is time to change our ways.  No business is more important than the future that we give to these kids.

I would love your comments.