On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS July 27, 2015 #551 Up next…Inclusion!

After further review…I am often asked why I write about sports. My answer is simple: the world of sports offers me an endless opportunity to transform ethical issues into positive messages for productive living. My background and training as a teacher prepared me well for this practice, and I’ve had the good fortune to be well acquainted with highly visible athletes whose personal triumphs and challenges resonate with a wide audience. You may not know about your plumber’s latest brush with the law, or the plumbing code, but everybody knows what’s up with the players on their favorite team. Unfortunately, the good things that many do are often overshadowed by the not-so-good.

Recently I was in an audience where the speaker asked: “What is the hallmark of sports?” It was a rhetorical question aiming for a variety of answers. The predominant response was – family and team. The terms are interchangeable in my mind, since I firmly believe a family is (or certainly should function as) a T*E*A*M. I define T*E*A*M as Together Everyone Accomplishes More. In order for a family to do that, each member must do his or her part to live and work together.

Sports teams are a family. Band/orchestra members are a family. Cast members in a play are a family. Each is a diverse collection of individuals, but the inclusion of each member is vital to the success of that organization. Likewise, the personality and convictions of family members may be dissimilar, but each one must feel (and be made to feel) part of that group in order for that member, as well as the team, to be productive.

The speaker also mentioned another word attached to sports: courage. It does take courage – one might call it “bravery,” “pluck,” or “valor” – to step onto the court, field, or stage. Each individual who does so will have a better chance, if they feel part of that organization. Courage is fed by inclusion, not by isolation from a common goal. Self-belief is aided immeasurably by a sense of T*E*A*M unity. Those who have it are able to deal with anger, discomfort and intimidation better. The fear of failing is diminished. Put into clearer perspective: it is one of the stepping stones to success. Or as Don Quixote proclaimed famously: “If you’ll only be true to this glorious quest, your heart will lie peaceful and calm…”

Will you search for that inner strength that unity can bring?

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