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Beating the Odds

Teaching Values

Every time you see a sports team with an extraordinary winning streak, you immediately ask, “How do they do it?”

Thanks to the eagle eye of Larry O’Connor, who pointed out a recent story in the New York Times, we get another chance to analyze the question.

This time it’s Smith Center, Kan., home to a high school football dynasty. And once again, it turns out that values are the common denominator in winning sports programs.

“When you get home tonight, I want you to tell your parents you love them and thank them for all they do for you,” the article quotes coach Roger Barta as telling his team after another victory. “They are there for you guys, and that is what life is all about. In fact, if we in this room are there for each other every day this season, we’ll all be part of something special.”

Think about it: When is the last time you heard of a team that constantly wins just because of the sheer genius of a coach? Instead, teams win because of fundamental beliefs that are felt deeply by the coaches and transmitted to the players.

“We never talk about winning or losing around here because if you compete and work hard every day, those things take care of themselves,” the article quotes Barta as saying.

“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values,” the Dalai Lama said.

The best coaches seem to live those words.

Tennessee basketball coach Pat Summitt says flatly, “We will outwork you.”

Said Vince Lombardi, “You don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do it all the time.”


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