Sports: Conversation Sparks “Idea,” Inspiring Book for Athletes, Parents, and Coaches

Over this past year, I have spent a good deal of time adding articles to my blog here at ChicagoNow. Pieces that I felt warranted a highlight, articles written to inspire thought and action, commentary (sometimes unpopular) I thought necessary, and writings with the specific purpose of building strong foundations for success…athletic success. My goal…something I have made clear on many occasions, to make a difference in a sports and youth sports culture that seems
to be a little off track.

In light of this, I have occasionally highlighted pieces from my recently published book and promoted (shamelessly on occasion) book signings, readings, and other happenings with Becoming a True Champion (BATC). Even though uncomfortable at times, it is a necessary evil of seeking prominence for something I feel will help make a difference for the millions of athletes, coaches and parents seeking a better way.

However, what I have not done is tell the “story” behind how BATC actually came to be. An idea that grew out of an all too common conversation that happens, in one form or another, just about every week (maybe even every day) on athletic
venues all across this country—and beyond.

My “story” begins sometime back around 2003…back when my kids (now in their 20’s) were accelerating their own athletic experiences and commitments. It happened during an evening out for dinner with a group of parents after a youth sporting event my wife and I attended. This was a common occurrence for us (this going out to dinner with groups of parents) as all our kids were involved in a variety of sports and we, consistently, went out after events to grab something to eat.

Now I should mention that I had heard rumblings from unhappy parents at sporting events (both as a coach and as a parent) prior to this evening, but this discussion…it was quite a bit different. What was special, and a little unique, on this particular occasion was that the parents began a lengthy and detailed conversation regarding why, from their perspective, the “team,” or athletes (our kids), weren’t as successful as maybe they should be.

I have to say, I was genuinely taken back by the whole nature of the conversation as the points made were completely divorced from what I learned as a competitive athlete. Their focus was fixated on things outside the athlete themselves and the efforts they put into the game…and into practice.

They discussed the coaching and the choices that were made, and game strategy used, determining this as the reason for the team’s lack of success. Who played, who started the game, how much certain people played, the positions they were assigned, who didn’t start the game, etc., were all part of the discussion and reasoning behind the team’s inability to do as well as “they” felt they should. I even think that some of the referee’s calls came into question from the game that particular day.

Again, all of this, very different than what I had experienced as an athlete, and as a veteran educator and coach. And as time went on, I began to notice that more intense conversations like this were occurring not only on sports teams my kids played for, but just about everywhere. It was all over…but I digress.

Getting back to my story, it was on the drive home that I sarcastically turned to my wife and said, “Man, I should write a book…they have this all backwards.” Ok, those weren’t my EXACT words as I was certainly a little bit more descriptive in my arguments and tone, but the meaning was the same.

It was not long after this above circumstance, and in combination with the general lack of understanding on how true athletic success is achieved and the consistent media coverage of the loss of perspective and “winning at all costs” attitudes seen from elite and professional athletes, college athletes, and even high school athletes, parents, and coaches, that I was inspired to write Becoming a True Champion.

In addition, bad and unethical behavior from athletes, at many levels of sports, was plastered all over the media on a regular basis. They had a field day with stories that were counter to the once thought principles competitive sports participation supposedly brought to the teaching table of our youth, and were assumed to be displayed by their counterparts at the elite level.

And I must admit, when we look at behavior as revealed through the Mitchell Report (released in 2007), in addition to the countless number of suspensions of athletes for performance-enhancing drugs (Lance Armstrong debacle being one pinnacle) and other unethical, inappropriate behavior by athletes, coaches and parents at just about all levels of sports, you come away wondering “what positive principles in competitive sports?” It becomes a really tough sell.

So that is my story, and the why behind Becoming a True Champion. My hope is to address the athlete themselves and bring them back to foundations that, in the long run, are much more rewarding in nature. Things that are worthy of being passed on from generation to generation.

That is the goal.

Shameless Promotional Plug for Becoming a True Champion

Every once in a while, something comes along that has the potential to make a difference and impart positive change. In a society where short-term gratification, winning at all costs attitudes, and a loss of perspective on what athletic success really should be about, Becoming a True Champion (BATC) begs to answer the question raised by these aforementioned issues, “is there a better way?” The answer…yes there is!!!

Part inspiration, part how-to, and part memoir, Becoming a True Champion gives readers (athletes) a better, more conducive path toward success and excellence, without them having to sacrifice their character and integrity in the process. In fact, it emphasizes these aspects as two important pieces to the foundations of becoming a true champion in sports.

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