I recently received an email from a contact of mine, Juliet Cassell of The Educated Sports Parent, regarding a website and program she felt I really needed to check out. Knowing my emphasis on building the athlete from the inside out (and how important that is with regard to the choices and actions one takes), and my attention to character building in this process, Juliet knew I might have interest in the Sports Leader program at sportsleader.org.
As I perused the site, there was one thing that really stood out for me right away; that was the emphasis Sports Leader placed on the word and meaning of "virtue."
Merriam-Webster Defines virtue as:
conformity to a standard of right: morality
a particular moral excellence
a beneficial quality or power of a thing
...strength or courage: valor
a commendable quality or trait: merit
a capacity to act: potency
And virtue is the underlying theme behind former Ohio State football player Joe Lukens' and Louisville businessman and coach Paul Passafiume's Sports Leader program.
Actually, more of a mission than a theme, their vision for such a program grew out of a "need" as "they saw the world of sports drifting away from it's (sic) original ideals," and "they realized that sports, and the coach in particular, can play a pivotal role in the virtuous development of young men."
With concentration on athletes through a central focus of creating coaches who understand and coach using SportsLeader principles, they look to develop "the complete athlete" through what they call the "circle of virtue."
"As a SportsLeader coach, you focus equal time on instilling virtues in players and forming good habits. Virtue goes beyond recognizing the good -- it chooses to do the good."
Supported by Ohio State Head Football Coach Jim Tressel (click "select a video," Coach Tressel), the program looks to give athletes not only what they need to be successful on the field but also to enhance and encourage virtuous behavior on and off the field.
And with the fairly recent media attention given to athletes and negative behavior, i.e. Tiger Woods, Floyd Landis, Terrell Pryor and the four other Ohio State football player suspensions, Masson Holland's physical abuse of a high school referee, Lance Armstrong (allegations) and Cam Newton (allegations), etc., it certainly seems that a real need exists for just such a program.