Actually, I give high school student-athletes a pass on doing this but they should be aware of it…However, collegiate student-athletes, if you aren’t or haven’t even understood this, you are behind in your personal development.

So you’ve made it to a collegiate program to play your sport and you’ve found yourself disagreeing with your coach and getting into trouble because of your attitude. This disagreeing could be about playing time, style of play, intensity/duration/amount of practices etc…it doesn’t matter what it is.

What matters is that because of “whatever”, you begin to act out and challenge your coaches authority by doing things your way OR by doing what the coach asks BUT with a negative attitude. Most collegiate coaches would probably drop you from their program if that attitude continues with the idea that you lack the character to make it in their program.

But is character really the problem?

I want to add another thought in the mix. Leaning on the twist of a concept (image below) that I received from an ethics workshop presented by Shannon French PhD on Moral Reasoning and Ethical Theory, I believe the problem may be something else.

Character is the strength/courage to DO what you believe while representing your unique mix of virtues. Sometimes, we lump ethical behavior into our definition of character. A person can have character while doing what you perceive to be wrong – they just hold convictions to principles that are different than yours. The problem may be the life principles that the athlete holds! An athletic program is a great place to reveal if those principles are helpful in the long run of life.

Sooo, the questions that student-athletes should be answering by the time they settle into college is:

What life principles (truths about how you believe things are or ought to be) do I live by? What do you believe about ideas like, Work, Happiness, Practice, Success etc.?

What type of outside pressures (ex. peers, difficult challenges, shortcomings, successes, tough conversations etc) would break my ability to apply character to what I believe? [answering this reveals “flaws/weak points” in your character]

From my experiences within athletics, what values (ex. honesty, straight-forwardness, challenges, fun etc.) have I found to be very important to me? [list at least five]

If the behavior portion of the equation above calls for open communication, can I share clearly what’s important to me with others or do I just misbehave until they figure it out and change themselves? What do you do if they don’t “get you”?

Can I accept the principles of a program that may be different than what I hold? How do I go about submitting to something bigger than myself?


These questions are simple but can only best be answered through reflective journaling/conversations. I am not asking you what you THINK the answer is, I’m asking you WHAT the answer is! You’ll find the answer in how you actually behave day in and day out.

If you (the student-athlete) want to be able to have a little more control over your experiences in a college program, answer honestly and thoroughly those questions above. Do it as a team. #PushForward #JOC



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