Why We Play
WHY WE PLAY is a national initiative, whose intent is to reclaim the educational purpose of sports. Sports in America engage more individuals, families, and communities in a shared experience than any other cultural activity, organization or religion and have significant perceived value. We value sports because we believe the students who are involved acquire something meaningful through their participation. Sports provide countless teachable moments where core ethical values such as caring, honesty, fairness, responsibility, and respect for self and others can be developed. With that said, one of the great myths in our culture is that participation alone builds and develops this character, as if doing a handstand, running a race, hitting a curveball, or simply suiting up are sufficient to strengthen a young person’s moral fiber. Unless a coach teaches and models character and encourages its development in student-athletes, it is more likely organized sports will spoil play and undermine the development of the very character and virtue it claims to build. The potential for the growth and development of character in students only exists if the adults who are in charge of and oversee these experiences are aware of and intentional about this significant role.
Coaches clearly play a significant role in the experience that students have. However, training coaches alone is not enough. Without support of the school community, the current win-at-all-costs sports culture will continue to make winning the only value that comes from participation. This training around a shared common language will provide an effective response to the demands and pressures of the current win-at-all-cost sports culture.
We must provide students with growth that will sustain them beyond physical skill development and the ability to play and win a game. For this to happen, we must align school communities around a deeper purpose.