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How to Win

Correct Principles

Millions of people got a kick out of last week’s story in which a low-flying pelican and a cell phone conspired to send a million-dollar car into a Texas salt marsh.

But as zany and comical as it is, the episode carries powerful lessons for all — including coaches and athletes.

To recap, a man is driving, then gets distracted by a low-flying pelican. He drops his cell phone, and when he reaches for it, his Bugatti Veyron goes into the water in La Marque, near Galveston. These are the reports, and nothing I have seen contradicts them.

To make this story special for your players, tell them this: A low-flying pelican, or something like it, can happen to anyone. In other words, things are going to happen to you. They are completely out of your control, and once they happen, the only thing you can control is your response.

In the case of the Texas driver, the response was flawed because driving and cell phones do not go along well. It should be a principle never to mix driving and cell phones. “Rules are not necessarily sacred. Principles are,” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

To emphasize, the car didn’t go off the road because of the pelican, it went off the road because the response came in the absence of correct principles.

Over the course of a season, many things will happen, forcing many decisions on the part of coaches and athletes. When those things happen, will there be driving and cell phone use going on at the same time? Or will the response come from carefully considered principles?


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