Sports and Character Building Essay Example
Sports and Character Building Essay Example

Sports and Character Building Essay Example

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Character is defined as the set of moral qualities which are present in an individual. It can include attributes like discipline, prudence, courage, integrity, honesty, loyalty and any good behavior or habit. Character building refers to the process of using tools and techniques to allow young people to think intensively and critically. Sports can be one of the tools to build morals and character in individuals. Education policy makers, teachers, politicians and people argue that sports can be an efficient tool to develop moral characters in young people.

Western countries usually perceive sports as a vital tool for building better people. Participation in sports is seen as building the character of young people. Sports are considered to build moral fiber. However this theory has been challenged by a large number of researchers, academicians, coaches and policy makers w


ho argue that sports do not build character. This paper presents a summary of the arguments used by proponents and critics about the role of sports in character building.

Sports build characterJohn Wooden, a Basketball Hall of Fame member once said that sports do not build character but reveal it (Bredemeier, Pg 25, 2000). Sports are considered beneficial because it allows young people to remain physically active. It also creates lifelong friendships and communication skills which can help in creating a better sense of self worth and independence. Physical activity has been found to be beneficial for children because it allows them to make healthy eating choices that improve their performance and overall health.

They reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease by engaging in sports.Supporters say that sports builds character because it allows sick children to brea

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through their barriers by interacting with peers and receiving positive feedback from coaches. Sports can be beneficial in allowing young people to develop great communication skills. They have the opportunity to meet other children with the same interests. Dr Micheli, director of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston, says that children can obtain enjoyment and they make some of the best friends in their lives through their sports teams (Anderson, Pg 52, 2000).

Sports are vital for creating a sense of camaraderie which can create bonding between young athletes. It also creates a feeling of belonging to a community when children participate in sports. This can help in fighting anti socialism or withdrawing from society. It gives children a sense of being associated with a sport (Bredemeier, Pg 63, 2000). Sports and physical activity can have a remarkable impact on individuals and communities.

Stoll says that sports programs can decisively promote ethical decision making skills, sportsmanship behavior and a moral character development program for individuals (Pg 18, 2000).Sports have power to shape the values and beliefs of athletes. By being placed in a positive environment, young people can relate to each other and help each other out. Sports helps young people stay focus on their priorities. Hansen conducted a research of sports training programs for coaches in which he found that students that participate in regular physical activity have better academic grades (Pg 28, 2000). They also understand the importance of organizing their life and have a better chance of succeeding in life.

Sports are an event that has been around in some form or another for many years.Hansen supports the theory that sports can build

character by insisting that sports draws people together (Pg 29, 2000). People can be members of a team or fans for a certain team but the common thing is that sports have bonded people of different backgrounds with a common goal. By constant practice and playing games, players become physically fit.

The goal of winning a game can drive them to perform to the peak of their abilities. Sports create a social environment which can develop attitudes, values and behavior. It can also be beneficial in building a self identity.The interaction between team members helps to create self identity for the individual players. The better they perform, the more important their role in the team is.

Finally they learn the value of acting as a team rather than acting as individuals when they play sports (Anderson, Pg 55, 2000). Teamwork makes players loyal and builds their courage. It makes them willingly do anything for the good of the team. The attitudes learned on the playing field can influence other aspects of the player’s life.

Sports have a positive effect on people who participate in them.A research conducted about ethical choices of athletes in college found out that coaches who care about their athletes and honor the traditional spirit of sports are inevitably character builders (Priest, Pg 170, 1999). They measure their success not in terms of victories or records but in their ability to teach youngsters the spirit of reaching the highest potential. Techniques and strategies are important but the teaching of vital life skills and virtues like integrity, fairness, perseverance, courage and self discipline is important for the life of the athletes.Sports can be

a vital tool for improving and building the character of young people.

Research based programs use morality models which show that the true aim of sports is not to make good physical athletes but to make better human beings out of sportsmen (Priest, Pg 172, 1999). Organized sports are capable of transforming young people into characters with many virtues and strengths according to education policy makers of the European Union (Hansen, Pg 31, 2000). Sports have become a medium of personal enrichment and development.It enables the participants to practice and acquire the universal moral qualities for which sport has been famous for.

It can also help in promoting the transformative potential of young people. Many supporters also insist that sports are the best medium for character building because the alternates would be very frightening. Young people might turn to drugs or withdraw themselves which can create a negative character. Sports participation is believed to create a respect for rules and regulations.It also creates a complete commitment to participate despite obstacles (Baum, Pg 36, 1999).

The belief that sports build the moral fiber of young people was associated with the New England settlers in the middle of the nineteenth century (Macleod, Pg 16, 2000). Competing in team sports became equivalent to possessing and building character. Organized sports were introduced in the United States to integrate immigrants (Macleod, Pg 16, 2000). Many social reformers according to Macleod also promoted sports as a vital tool for assimilating immigrants.Critics of the theory that sports builds character argue that first hand accounts from athletes and coaches reveal the contradictions and inequities associated with modern sport. Sports builds character is the

foundation belief of modern society.

The European Union for instance nominated 2004 as the year of education through sport (Jarvie, Pg 45, 2006). The European Commission for Education and Culture said that one out of three Europeans is engaged in sport (Jarvie, Pg 46, 2006). However they believe that sports should become an integral part of people’s education and life (Jarvie, Pg 47, 2006).Inside the United States, these foundational beliefs are endorsed by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports which aims to act as a catalyst to encourage and motivate Americans to become physically active and participate in sports (Jarvie, Pg 49, 2006). Policy makers in the European Union and United States say that proper coaching can help build character in young people using sports.

Children can learn about vital traits like leadership, dedication and responsibility by participating in sports. Sports are an important vehicle for teaching and practically demonstrating these traits which can be helpful for a young adult.Supporters insist that a proper coach can prevent any negative influence of sports because bad behavior can be quickly emulated by the athletes. Coaches must remember their duties to be positive role models. Research conducted by scientists concluded that good sportsmanship can build character (Horne, Pg 32, 2000). Developing a sportsmanship code is vital for the success of character building.

The appropriate behavior must be explained and the consequences should be applied if the child displays in appropriate behavior.Coaches should also create adversity in practice to allow athletes to learn to handle obstacles in a positive manner (Horne, Pg 34, 2000). Finally it is important for coaches and parents to live by their moral

code and become practical examples for the children. Coaches must train children to respect authority, rules and regulations (Horne, Pg 35, 2000). Sports do not build character Contemporary sports have been harshly criticized because it results in a system of negative values like racism, homophobia, sexism and ruthless competition.

Research conducted in 2007 by the State University of New York found that male athletes are more likely to advocate the use of cheating to win the game (Gibson, Pg 24, 2007). The report by the State University of New York also showed that boys who played football or basketball were found to be engaged in cheating. Finally the report concluded that athletes were more involved in attempts to injure or intimidate others while breaking the rules. The majority of athletes have been reported to have given good accounts of their coaches (Gibson, Pg 26, 2007).

However many attitudes and conduct of coaches are teaching negative lessons about cheating and bad sportsmanship. Gibson points out to many instances of abuse and cheating by athletes in modern sports. Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks hit Steve Moore from behind knocking him unconscious. The fight resulted in fractured vertebrae and ligament damage for Moore. Bertuzzi was fined and suspended for some time. Moore has not played in hockey since the incident (Gibson, Pg 28, 2007).

Some sports officials have pointed out that sports is becoming more associated with negative values like racism, cheating and bad sportsmanship.Football and basketball players have been identified by researchers like Gibson to use violence, intimidation and coercion outside the field. They may use violence or intimidation towards women and males who do not play sports

(Blanchard, Pg 23, 2001). Head butting has become a serious issue in international football.

During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane head butted the Italian Marco Materazzi for which he received a red card. During the Scottish 2002 Premier League, Bobo Balde was suspended after he elbowed Hibernian’s Paul Fenwick.Gibson found that sixty percent of male athletes have engaged in bullying, teasing or other negative behavior (Pg 32, 2007). Some critics believe that the win at all cost attitude together with poor role models of coaches and parents can make child athletes more violent and aggressive.

Gibson says that the huge rise in sports related violence seems to suggest the lack of positive values imparted by coaches and parents to young athletes (Pg 32, 2007). Football and wrestling athletes have a higher level of intimidating others and using bad behavior like bullying and teasing (Gibson, Pg 33, 2007).Gibson says that responding to insults and physical confrontations creates a social order of violence which can also extend off the field (Pg 33, 2007). Athletes can call non athletic males as being weak and target them for victimization.

Jarvie says that parents are part of the problem as they can influence the behavior of children on the playing field by the pressure exerted both at home and from the stands. Some parents can complicate the behavior of child athletes by insisting that they win using all means necessary (Pg 39, 2006).Many parents are spending more time at work and less at home with children. This results in them placing more emphasis on the emphasis of organized activities like sports (Jarvie, Pg 39, 2006). The use

of cheating and other negative behavior also extends off the field.

High schools students who are sports athletes report cheating on tests at a higher rate as compared with non athletes. A survey conducted in 2004 by Jarvie of college students concluded that absence of any valid evidence that sports participation can produce any verifiable socialization effects.Psychologists according to Hill in 2000 found no empirical evidence to support the tradition that sports can build character (Pg 39, 2003). Gibson provides several recent examples to claim that sports does not create a life characterized by caution and modesty. Bill Belicheck’s recent attempt to film the New York Jets’ defensive signals at the 2007 National Football League Session, Travis Henry, Duke University lacrosse team and NASCAR’s Michael Waltrip are recent examples of bad sporting behavior (Gibson, Pg 59, 2007).

A civil trial was recently conducted by the State government of Ohio involving two former Ohio State University football players have questioned the type of character being built. One player was sued for damages by a punch from the other during a practice session. Hot words were exchanged between the two over each other’s athletic prowess. Behavior like this has prompted researchers to doubt the validity of the theory that sports can be effective in building character.

These examples prove that sports do not build a good character. Research even shows that negative effects by some athletes.Recently shocking reports like Montclair High School football players raping a woman and Naval football players raping a female classmate has stirred up the media (Gibson, Pg 61, 2007). Critics point out to such examples to claim that sports do not build character.

Sports on the other create a strong image of masculinity which means that an athlete must be tough, possess endurance and exhibit courage.

It is also characterized by aggressiveness and refusal to complain. Such character traits are never permanent. Trials are undertaken to separate the weak from the strong.Passing these tests at an early stage is a sign of toughness and perseverance. Sports are also associated with hardships and not quitting.

Critics point out sports far from creating a virtuous character reinforces a tough and strong masculine image in which homophobia and sexism are acceptable behavior. Professional sports train boy to become men. They learn how to become clean and hygienic. They exhibit courage and bravery in the face of danger (Dunning, Pg 56, 1999).

Evaluation and Conclusion Both sides have valid arguments about the belief that sports can build character.While there are some negative aspects of sports like racism, cheating, bullying, violence, intimidation, homophobia and sexism, the fact remains that sport is one of the several ways to build the character of young children. Coaches and parents must also play an active role to ensure that young athletes are properly taught about building their character. The current system is flawed because it does not provide any training to youth coaches who can create a fostering environment for young people.

Creating a climate which can promote positive values and behavior are vital for building character using sportsmanship.The lack of education available for coaches is one of the key factors which do not promote such a climate. It is clear that programs must be developed for coaches and parents to create a positive environment in youth

sports leagues. Young people can learn the proper behavior from properly trained coaches and parents since they become role models. Sports is an excellent social avenue for children to construct better self esteem and fair play but it can only occur if parents and coaches behave in positive ways. Young people need to be taught about the importance of rules and regulations.

They must be made aware of the consequences of inappropriate behavior. They must be enlightened that without rules, the games would be unfair. Giving feedback to children is vital since the lack of feedback would be interpreted as a negative response (Jarvie, Pg 42, 2006). Anderson says that the role of the coach is vital for young athletes (Pg 22, 2000). Coaches who teach positive values to young people ensure that the latter plays again the following season. The promotion of rules is important to promote cooperation rather than just focusing on winning.

Young people can learn about playing a fair game if they know the rules and regulations of the sport. Parents and coaches must follow rules which allow the young people to learn the importance of sharing playing time and the value of participation as opposed to simply winning the game. Coaches can also promote self esteem by understanding the mistakes made by young people. Positive ways to rectify problems and obstacles helps young people to continue the sport and promotes self esteem. Using any kind of punishment towards young people can create an opposite effect on participation and self esteem.

Young people feel ashamed because of mistakes made during the game. They try to find ways to avoid playing in the future. Adults

can critically intervene and teach them that mistakes are just a requirement for more practice to master the sport. Parents and coaches must adopt a standard of fair play.

Simply by preaching the virtues of fair play and not practicing it sends a mixed message to young people about the importance of fair play. An open discussion with the need for honesty and accepting responsibility for actions is also vital for character building in young people.Most of the scandals associated with sports like drugs, cheating, violence and other inappropriate behavior can be countered if coaches and parents send a positive message to children (Davies, Pg 74, 1992). Youth sports can become an exercise in character building if the adults involved take a proactive role in exhibiting those qualities. The values of participation, teamwork and following the rules should be promoted. The key is to train adults how to teach the children.

A failure to do so would result in young athletes continuing to become engaged in negative behavior.The promotion of fair play is important because it refers to all participants having an equal chance to pursue victory. This also means that athletes must act in an honest and straightforward manner even if others do not play fairly. Sports must be conceptualized as having characteristics in which individuals can behave positively in sports situations. Fairness, self control, courage and persistence are some of the concepts of treating others and being treated fairly. Character evolves throughout the life of athletes.

Sport plays a significant role in this process. The ancient Greeks recognized the importance of sports as a major tool for character buildings (Anderson, Pg 39, 2000). Sports

belong to the vital curriculum of character building. Research has shown that schools with low sports and physical education budgets see a diminished source of character education. The correct message which a school can send is that winning is not important but playing the game. The educational messages and issues can be used for developing character in young people (Dunning, Pg 45, 2005).

 Read about the role of parents in curriculum developmentDespite the apparent negative behavior associated with sports, it does not mean that sports have no role in building character among young people. Sports are an ideal social event which can allow young people to develop many traits which can help them in life. However it is vital that coaches and parents are properly trained about imparting positive values in young people. Creating a supporting climate can help in promoting positive reinforcement and values among children.

The importance of sports has been known since ancient Greece (Anderson, 25, 2000).The ancient Olympics were not only a display of physical strength and stamina, but athletes were also considered as models of moral character. Sports are beneficial because it can help draw people together. It can bond people of different backgrounds into one team. Sports have become a medium of personal enrichment and development.

It enables the participants to practice and acquire the universal moral qualities for which sport has been famous for. It can also help in promoting the transformative potential of young people. A properly trained coach can help highlight the importance of rules and regulations among children.Children must learn that fair play is important for character building even if the opposite side does not

play fairly. Sports can provide a unique framework for training children with values like prudence, self esteem, patience and perseverance which would help them in their adult life.

Coaches and parents must also become good examples by practicing what they preach. This can allow children to emulate good role models. The training of coaches and parents can help in minimizing the current negative behavior associated with sports events. Providing feedback can also be beneficial for gaining the trust of young people.

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