Citizenship And Asset Building Through Athletics

Which of the assets and citizenship characteristics are likely to be developed or reinforced in a good quality program that goes beyond teaching sports specific strategies and skills?
A high quality athletic experience goes beyond teaching the skills and strategies and how to win in a sport. In this environment, five additional assets and four of the citizenship qualities could be naturally promoted and reinforced.

1.    Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults. Coaches in our society are powerful and influential role models to young people who place importance on sports. Often, coaches are one of the most significant adults in a athlete’s life next to his or her parents.
2.    School provides a caring, encouraging environment. Athletes are often a place where students feel supported and encouraged. Some students may even stay in school when they are not succeeding well academically because they get encouragement and support from their coaches and teammates.
3.    Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. Coaches can be an additional positive role model for young people, and – in some cases – show more positive and responsible behavior than is demonstrated in the student’s home or community.
4.    Young person is actively engaged in learning. Even though athletics present an additional time commitment, some athletes report they do better academically during their athletic season. This may be due to the reinforcement for academics they receive from their coach, or to the increased need for time-management and organization during the season.
5.    Young person cares about his or her school. Because of their extra commitment to co-curricular activities, athletes can become bonded to their team. This bond is often extended to their school and community.
Citizenship Characteristics:
1.    Respect: Holding one’s self and others in high regard. Through emphasis on sportsmanship (which has at its heart respect for self and others), athletes can learn valuable lessons about respect even during the heat of competition. These lessons can extend beyond the playing field to a healthy respect for others’ talents and abilities, and a high regard for one’s own integrity. Coaches can help athletes apply these concepts to their lives outside of sports.
2.    Perspective: The ability to rationally recognize the relative importance of events in our lives and make sound judgments based on these priorities. Sports provide an opportunity to develop a healthy perspective on winning and losing and an ability to consider the place of sports in one’s life.
3.    Sportsmanship: Behavior that demonstrates playing by both the spirit and the letter of rules. The word "sportsmanship" is part of our general vocabulary because the values inherent in sportsmanship apply to relationships between people in many areas of endeavor. Coaches teach sportsmanship by what they say and what they do, and they can help athletes explore these values and develop sportsmanship skills.

The ability to work together to accomplish common goals. Teamwork is increasingly valued in business and in families, and can be learned through athletics when coaches intentionally develop and reinforce teamwork skills.
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