Outside the Lines: How identifiable is your teams character?

This past November I had the pleasure of attending a coaches breakfast message given by Bruce Brown, a special presenter of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Champions of Character platform.

Bruce travels all around the nation giving talks to schools, coaches and players about character…specifically the character of a team. This message is built off the NAIA&8217;s five core character values: respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership and sportsmanship. As part of his visits he likes to attend practice and figure out what a team stands for and then ask a player to see if he or she knows.

Monday afternoon, while waiting for interviews after the Briarwood Christian baseball game, I stood on the dusty warning track of Rickwood Field &045; desensitized that this was the first time I&8217;d set foot on the historic field &045; and watched the Lions shake hands with Ramsay. I observed as Coach Lee Hall moved to the home plate area to stand following his handshakes.

I watched as his players joined him one-by-one and thought, &8220;How fitting. He&8217;s going to give his team the post game talk from home plate at Rickwood.&8221;

I was wrong. As he invited the Ramsay players into the batter&8217;s circle, it was more clear that Hall was welcoming them in to gather in prayer. But before the prayer, Hall offered encouragement to the Rams players.

&8220;You are blessed to be able to play all of your games here. Don&8217;t ever take that for granted,&8221; Hall says he told the Rams.

Whether you&8217;re a believer in prayer around sports, or prayer at all, you have to agree that an act of bringing together two teams for a quiet moment together after a lopsided game is an encouraging display of sportsmanship and character.

About 30 minutes before that scene I received a call from another coach with an update of his game. I was surprised to hear that a team walked off the field because they were getting beat by a large margin.

We must pause as fans, reporters, parents and coaches and wonder if the enjoyment of the game is still there, and if we know what we stand for. As you go to the ball park this week, ask a player, coach or fan, &8220;What does your team stand for?&8221;

If they give you an answer, come home and take a moment to post it on the blog on our Web site beneath this column