(By Guest Contributor, Former NFL Quarterback, Charlie Batch)
I didn’t truly understand what it was to be a good sport until I was in college playing football at Eastern Michigan University. I was unhappy at that time because I wasn’t getting a lot of reps at practice; and while I believed I was the best quarterback on the team, I wasn’t the starting QB.
One day after seeing my frustration, my coach said to me, “Charlie, it’s not your ability; it’s your attitude.” It was a wakeup call. I did a lot of soul searching, and gradually took the steps to turn around my negative attitude and become a good sport.
My coach was right. When my attitude improved, so did my relationships with my teammates and my coaches. I got better as a player, and I eventually earned the opportunities I wanted on the field. I was selected in the second round of the NFL draft and played for 15 years in the league. It was during that time that I was inspired to use some of my own experiences to start a sportsmanship program for young athletes.
For the past 13 years, my wife Tasha and I have worked with thousands of kids who come through our Best of the Batch Foundation to run track, play basketball, improve their reading and computer literacy skills, and deal with challenges in school and in life. We began noticing there was an increasing number of student-athletes who were losing a sense of self, overwhelmed by the high-pressure demands of being both a student and an athlete. That’s why we developed a Dignity & Respect Sportsmanship program … to help teach student-athletes how to treat themselves and others with dignity and respect both on and off the field. The program’s lessons include everything from combating bullying and social media abuse, to communicating with respect, to stress management, to sports safety and concussion awareness.
My 5 Principles of Learning Integrity in Sports
- Treating others with good sportsmanship starts with taking the time to understand and respect yourself.
- In sports and in life, it is important to understand, appreciate and accept the similarities and differences between ourselves, our teammates and our opponents.
- Learning to communicate respectfully is a critical component to sportsmanship. Courteous verbal and nonverbal communication should extend to teammates and fellow students as well as coaches, teachers and other superiors.
- Leadership is an important skill that every kid should learn, and it’s especially important for a student-athlete, who is often looked at as a leader in the school.
- To be able to act with good sportsmanship, student-athletes have to be “in the zone,” effectively balancing school and sports, as well as their mental and physical health.
Charlie Batch is a former NFL Quarterback. He was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Lions in 1998 and as the Pittsburgh Steelers back-up quarterback, he was instrumental in critical game wins that led the team to Super Bowl XL and XLIII.
Batch is also a community advocate, author, media personality, entrepreneur and professional speaker. In 1999, he created the Best of the Batch Foundation, which gives Pittsburgh city kids a safe place to learn and grow.