|Nick and Ric in conference|
Who does not like to win? There is certainly nothing wrong with winning, but there are some things that are of far greater importance. My colleague, Nick, and I made that point in this year's Junior Varsity Championship game of the basketball league of which our school, RLS, is a part. How our school eventually got to the finals is another story, but at our meeting just before the start of the championship game we told the students that we were going to start our five best players. To the team's surprise and to the surprise of the parents and student who showed up to support us, the starting line-up consisted of five of our younger and less skilled players while the so-called "best" and more skilled players on the team watched from the bench for the first five minutes of the first quarter. Those youngsters played their hearts out, and they played with pride and confidence despite being down seven points by the time we put the more skilled players into the line up .
You see, throughout the season, those five students showed up to every practice, worked very hard without complaining, and cooperated with Nick and me as we molded them to become an effective team. On the other hand, during the season, a few of our more skilled players were having problems controlling themselves on and off court. They were mouthing off at the referees, getting into entanglements with each other, and boasting of their abilities. Of course the result were a couple of suspensions from games and practice. We drove home the point time and again that winning was not our primary goal, but that if that occurred that would be a bonus. The core values we sought to instill in them were teamwork, maintaining their poise and composure under pressure, self-confidence, hard work and giving their all, and respect for their opponents, team-mates, and officials. In the end, we did not win the finals, but it was an intensely fought game, with the opposing team winning in overtime. We lost the championship, but we attained to the core values described above. The other team won the championship, but since for the coaching staff of that team winning appeared to be the primary value, they used a varsity player to play in the game. We did not offer a protest. There were things far more important to reflect on.