By Randy Traeger
It has always bothered me when coaches talk about their players and use the words “My kids” and “My guys”. Again, they are not YOUR KIDS. They belong to their parents and their creator. I think the “My” tag is symbolic of a basic lack of respect for our players humanity and our respectful relationship with each of them. Do we look upon our players as merely pawns, to be used, and manipulated as a means to reaching the end goal of victory on the scoreboard?
For me, using the word “Reverence” when it comes to my relationships with our players has been an epiphany. I define “Reverence for Players” as a feeling or attitude of deep respect for their “Humanity”. Do we have a genuine reverence for the basic humanity in each of our players? Do we respect and revere each encounter with players, each opportunity to teach, to know, to understand, to love, to serve?
Man by our very creation deserves regard and respect. This respect is our natural birthright, regardless of race, creed, color, or social status. I believe our modern society has done tremendous harm to how we respect each others humanity. We have been de-humanized. Let’s re-humanize our players and revere each of those individual relationships.
Our “Reverence for Humanity” can be shown in three ways: words, actions and heart. These all are equally important.
Reverence by words: Our players should be addressed in appropriate words and kind language. This creates harmony, peace and love on our team. There is no place for cuss words in sports. It is essential to avoid insulting words; they ruin unity and cause hatred and animosity. Praise in public, punish in private. Public display’s of abusive language is not only an insult for the player; it is an insult for the coach as well, other people are listening. The wounds of our words are deeper than the wounds of knives. Watch your mouth!
Reverence by action: Our Reverence for Players humanity can also be physical, material, and time consuming. If there is a player who needs any kind of help he should be supported. It should be regarded as a duty not just as a favor. This is particularly important when it comes to helping players with school, behavior, social, or home problems. Remember, our actions as coaches speak so loudly that they often can’t hear what we are saying.
Reverence by heart: Reverence by the heart means that we should foster only love in our hearts for each of our players. If our hearts are filled with feelings of love, empathy and kindness, our actions will be virtuous. If they are poisoned by contempt, belittlement, and animosity our actions will go the way of vice.
My personal dedication to this “Reverence” causes me to focus more attention on the “weak links” in our team chain, the players that outsiders sometimes refer to as the geeks, the nerds, and the trouble makers. I try and go out of my way to reach out and connect with them every time we meet. Challenge the strong and save the weak from discouragement.
I have also found that this focus on “Reverence” has spilled over into how I view my personal relationships with family and friends. I am going to try harder to revere more and cherish more each and every encounter I have with my wife, my children, my family, and my friends. Who knows when it may be our last?
“Act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of another always as an end and never as a means only.”
---- Immanuel Kant