The section of our handbook that is labeled “The Purpose and Goal of Classical Christian Athletics” says the following:
Key lessons taught by athletics include the competitive mindset, mental toughness, physical training, conflict management, goal setting, team building, accountability, and overcoming failure. These skills are essential to the growth of an individual seeking success in a fallen world and keep us focused in reaching our full potential. Equipping students to face and overcome issues creates transformational experiences and the need for God.
We sometime get asked why we are taking athletics so seriously. I mean, isn’t the main goal of our school academics? I believe that there are lessons learned in athletic competition that cannot be taught as successfully in the classroom. Let’s take them one at a time.
- Competitive Mindset – In classrooms, it is true that students are in competition, but with the exception of high school valedictorian and salutatorian the competition is against oneself. In athletics, you are competing as a team for a final score and against total strangers.
- Mental Toughness – In classrooms, it is certainly true that a measure of mental toughness is required to do complex functions. It is true that one must push oneself in the classroom to do these functions well and better. In athletics, I believe a student is pushed similarly, but they are doing it in sometimes a very public setting. This requires an extra degree of mental toughness.
- Physical Training – In the classroom there is some of this in lab work or in the arts. Athletics is all about this training.
- Conflict Management – In the classroom, there can certainly be this issue with classmates or with instructors. Similarly, this occurs in athletics with teammates and coaches. In both cases we are working to help students learn to handle these issues well.
- Goal Setting – In class, a student has a grading scale that helps them establish goals. In athletics, it is a series of goals such as skill accomplishment, personal recognition, and team win and loss goals.
- Team Building – There is certainly an aspect of this in class as students work together on common themes and projects. In athletics, there are greater opportunities to work toward a common goal as opposed to a personal goal as well as dealing with loss.
- Accountability – While this is true in the classroom, we are stepping this up in athletics with our daily attendance check and conditioning requirement. In both the classroom and in athletics accountability to your authority and your class- or teammates is important.
- Overcoming Failure – To me this is the greatest area where athletics teach a valuable lesson. Failure certainly occurs in the classroom but it may or may not be noticed per se. In athletics, failures are openly visible in practice to a student’s teammates and coach and in games very visible to all watching. Plus, being the one to miss the potential winning shot or making the foul that appears to have created the loss is a big deal for an individual to deal with.
In athletics we have a unique opportunity to teach lessons that in some cases are comparable to the classroom learning experience but are more openly visible to the public eye. What we hope for is that our students are ready to flourish in the modern world by teaching and learning hard lessons. These lessons are the reason we do what we do. Trophies will accumulate dust and at some point that dust is wiped away or the trophy removed from the case because we no longer value it due to age. The lessons learned from that experience, the “dust,” so to speak, hopefully never gets wiped away or removed but rather builds a firm foundation for successful living!
More Posts by This Author:
- 7 Habits of a Godly Benchwarmer
- A Christian Perspective on Athletics
- A Classical Perspective on Athletics
- Doing Your Best?
- Dysfunctional Team, or Functional Team
- Goal Setting
- Goal Setting, Part 2
- Grit, Part 1
- In Pursuit of Excellence
- Narrow the Focus
- Parent Expectations
- Playing Time
- Team Building – When the Game Stands Tall
- The Power of a Program
- The Value of Competition
- The Value of Winning
- Transformational Coach vs. Transactional Coach