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Could Old School Wisdom Help Today's Athlete? Part I

Could Old School Wisdom Help Today's Athlete? Part I

It’s not that difficult.

So many dismal headlines on sports sites today could be eliminated if athletes heeded the Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten-type advice that used to be part of our cultural fabric but now seems to be missing at every level of both social life and play.

With another week of domestic violence reports coming in around the lives high profile football players, there’s an obvious question we may not be asking: “Has anyone ever told these young men that ‘boys never hit girls’? Could it be as simple as that?”

It’s never that simple. But another week’s worth of bad behavior in the sports world prompted some reflection on the social wisdom that seemed common to most everyone not so long ago.

The ditties Grandmama dropped on you while swinging on the porch. The stuff any good Little League coach preached while passing out the post-game treat. Bumper sticker proverbs that actually work to save your life.

Don’t hate on the Old School wisdom! It may sound cliche but it will save your New School athletic behind and help you avoid much unnecessary misery.

Here are five to consider:

“Boys never hit girls”

Never. I don’t care what she said. I don’t care that she pushed you. I don’t care that she swung first. It doesn’t matter that the gender wars seem to have tilted against men in your lifetime. In a civilized culture, men never hit women under any circumstances nor are they deemed more masculine for having slapped around their female companions. You never raise your hand to your Mom or any woman that comes after her. Truth: your actual lack of manhood gets exposed when your name becomes associated with the latest rumors of abuse.

“Think before you speak”

Or Tweet. Or post. Or write on The Players Tribune. Or pin on Instagram pictures of your naked or otherwise compromised self. Once those words get broadcast or pictures pinned, not only will they be accessible by millions of people who have no context regarding your real life, but you can never take them back. If your body catches fire, you stop, drop, and roll. If your tongue—or finger—is about to start a fire, you stop, think, and delete before hitting “send.”

“Treat others the way you want to be treated”

Especially true with others who don’t get the same kind of attention as you but whose lives are just as important—stadium workers, administration, dudes on the end of the bench. This idea is basically stolen—like all good wisdom—from the Bible which offers us the same idea in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” You’ll avoid lots of relational chaos simply by genuinely acting toward people around you the way you hope they’ll treat you. Crazy thing: good behavior is contagious, and when you act first, people will often do right by you simply because you started it. Unfortunately, bad behavior is contagious too, so decide what you want your environment to be and act accordingly.

“Don’t get too big for your britches.”

The Bible offers up another statement that captures this idea perfectly: “Pride comes before a fall.” Having pride in yourself is not an evil of itself, but it quickly becomes so when feeling good about yourself leads to looking down on others or imagining yourself to be all that. Start running your yap too much and you’re practically inviting calamity. The discipline may not be public but your spanking will take place—a guarantee sure as the sun rises.

“Don’t take the easy way out.”

Growth comes through the struggle. Competition in its purest sense demands pushing yourself beyond normal limits, overcoming steep hurdles that stand in the way of accomplishing a great goal. Choose the road less traveled and become something stronger in the long run. Choose the struggle and both the sense of accomplishment and the overall end result will be much more satisfying than taking a shortcut to the top.

For the second post in this two-part series, click here.