Much has been made of the post game spat between two football coaches this last weekend. Jim Schwartz felt disrespected because Jim Harbaugh shook his hand with too much force after the game. I am from Michigan and I hate the 49ers, so it would be my natural inclination to side with Coach Schwartz - not in this case.
The term sportsmanship is like the omni-present company Core Value of Integrity. Both are high and mighty terms that govern behavior to the most gradiose court. As if to say it is esstential to consider the tradition of the sport/business when any decision is made or action takes place. Give Me a Break!
Jim Schwartz was not upset because the integrity of the coaching hierarchy was corrupted - he was upset because he lost. It may not have been in good taste for Coach Harbaugh to jump up and down like a school girl when he won - but can you blame him for his inability to hide his excitement? Both guys are in leadership positions on team's that used to suck and are now good. These teams are good because their leaders have asked more of their teams and have proven they were willing to put the work in with them. Proving the old addage that hard work pays off!
It's pretty simple: You Should Be Humble in Victory and Accountable in Defeat
Today talk radio shows will have jammed phones occupied by people who never played football eager to weigh in with their opinion of the coaches confrontation. Beyond the actions of these individuals in this particular post-game fracas, there are lessons in
personal integrity to ponder:
1. Celebration Is Not An Act of Disrespect!
2. Losing is an Unfotunate Part of Life!
3. Own Your Actions!
I coach a soccer team of 6 year olds - we are very good! When I see these young people take what is being taught and apply it, my purpose on this earth is further validated. Am I a jerk for celebrating the achievement of these wonderful little people? Is it bad that I can't help throwing my hands up in encouragement for my place in this world and the legacy I have been lucky enough to be part of? Other coaches will occasionally look over at me with disappointment - they are disappointed that they are losing.
It is not arrogant to celebrate....it is an acknowledgement of our human existence. When the emotion turns off, your life is put on pause. Don't be afraid to celebrate because the other guy doesn't have what you earned!
No person has ever won every competition they ever entered. Even The Great Cael Sanderson must have come up short in a spelling bee somewhere along the line. It is bitterly unfortunate, but losing is part of life. I love nothing more than winning, but I have learned a great deal more from my losses. In order to elevate yourself as a person and a professional, you have to try things that may be beyond your perceived skill set. When you bump yourself up a level you stand to lose. Better to get on the elevator than to stay on the first floor.
If you are willing to try everything you stand to learn a lot. If you wish to try nothing at the risk of failure you may never lose....or learn anything.
...another ominous core value...this one slightly more applicable.
The aforementioned coaches eventually owned their actions stating that they got caught up in the competitive moment. I am always disappointed when a public figure cannot be honest in light of their actions. If Tiger Woods held a press conference admitting that he lived his life in a bubble and lost control of his discipline when his father died, do you think he would have been more easily forgiven? The hardest thing to do is own your actions. There is hope to benefit from in unfortunate results if you can simply admit you are not perfect. It's also the right thing to do!
When the game is over you might see the other coach at the grocery store, on the playground or at church. Will you be looked upon favorably when no one else is watching? If you lose a deal and are graceful in defeat, that prospect will leave their door open for you. If someone betrays your trust, and you give them another chance, you allow them an opportunity to benefit from a loss.
Let's save accountability and integrity for tax season and the jury at the pearly gates. Until then, just try to do the right thing!
Don't Forget to Remember!