Athletic Philosophy Statement
Competitive sports are contests, the goal of which is to win. The guiding purpose of entering a formal contest, in contrast to social or intramural games, is to be the victor. From Plato to the present, thoughtful people have observed that competitive sports sharpen one’s wits, poise, mental toughness, character, physical ability, sense of teamwork and fairness, and capacity for self-sacrifice for the common goals of the team all in a constructive and controlled exercise of our assertive instincts. It should be obvious that none of these good things can happen if winning is not the goal–there simply would be no test of wills to bring them out.
As a game in a civilized society, all athletics are governed by rules that set the challenges and ensure fairness, and by sportsmanship that is a positive and humane attitude toward the opposing team, the referees, and one’s teammates. Paradoxically in sports, within the rules of the game and in a spirit of sportsmanship, one can do many things that they are not otherwise allowed to do in society: steal the ball, deceive, trap people, deny people, pressure, wear out, etc.
Students participating in sports are human beings with feelings. While their feelings should always be acknowledged, they are not always appropriate. Disrespect, arrogance, and defeatism should be overcome and give way to a willingness to learn, genuine self-respect and confidence.
One especially inappropriate feeling is to identify objective accomplishment in sports with self-worth. So if a student does not make the team, is not a starter, or just has a bad day, he or she may feel worthless. Not everyone can be a brilliant student or an outstanding athlete; but we are all acceptable, worthwhile persons who should be loved unconditionally for what we are, not for what we can do or what we cannot do.
It helps when parents cooperate with coaches to encourage realism in their children regarding strengths and limitations while at the same time fostering genuine self-esteem. Feeling personally superior to others due to greater athletic ability or inferior to others because of lesser ability are both rooted in the same fundamental error: conditional love.
The players are responsible to earn their spot on the team. If this is not insisted upon, effort and a willingness to learn are not rewarded, laziness is encouraged, and discipline breaks down. Starters will be those players who consistently demonstrate a high degree of coachability and accomplishment. Their starting position is by no means assured: it can and should be challenged by other players throughout the year. Those players who are not starters at a particular time should work to improve their game so they can rise in their position on the team.
The members of a team will be played strategically, i.e., according to their relative strengths for the purpose of winning the game. Effort will be made to give the members of the team as much playing time as possible; however it will depend on game conditions, their position on the team, and their ability at the time. It cannot be guaranteed that every player will play in every game. Improvement, attitude, school behavior, academic progress, work ethic at practices, and performance will always be taken into consideration. Please stress at home that desire and effort can make up for a great deal of missing native ability. Larry Bird was one of the less-gifted athletes in the NBA, yet he is widely regarded as one of the greatest players ever.
Practices will be highly organized, competitive, and demanding. They are structured to teach the fundamentals first, insisting on their proper execution, and then to build an offensive and defensive system on them. Encourage your children to improve on the fundamentals during their free time. Excellence is never an accident; it is planned. Professional athletes go to camps to work on the basics. Certainly high school students can give them the attention they deserve.
Sports can teach many important lessons for life: hard work and a dedication to learning yields results; the good of the team as a whole is more important than an individual’s interests; and our emotions serve us when they are not out of control. Student-athletes will learn that anything they do should be done with intensity and passion striving for excellence. St. Paul wrote in a letter, “Whatever you do, work at it with your whole being.” (Col 3:23)
Parents and coaches should work together for the good of the players and the advancement of the team. Our coaches are available to discuss a student athlete’s needs or any other matter relevant to the program.
In closing, we believe that Catholic sports programs should provide an alternative to the excesses in our society. To Godlessness, we will pray before games; to unsportsmanlike behavior, our teams should be young ladies and gentlemen; to uncharitable and negative fans, ours should cheer positively and enthusiastically.
We must be ever aware that our teams, students, parents and fans represent a Catholic School.