Coaches Sports Philosophy Network
Sitting at a stop sign in the passenger seat of my grandpa’s 1974 Chrysler New Yorker, I saw him look over at the car next to us. It was full of teenagers who had their windows rolled down and one young man had his bare feet out the window. My grandpa said, “kids these days…no direction in their life.” I proceeded to ask him what life was like when he was a kid and filled me in on all the pranks they pulled and fads they followed. So I innocently I asked, “grandpa, so you were no different than these kids, right?” All he could do was flash me a contemplative smile the rest of the ride home.
The point of this story is that many times we judge the generation by what we see and quickly forget where we’ve come from. I believe this generation has many great qualities and is poised to achieve great things. Some research released on the Millennial generation notes that this group of young people has the highest ACT test scores ever, more going to college, more engaged in community service and leadership opportunities, and are the most technological advanced generation.
So what does this mean to us? These are our student athletes. We need to know who we are educating both on and off the playing fields and how to challenge them in their faith, their academics, and their sport. We need to put aside our preconceived notions of who they are and get actively engaged in their learning experience. This is why I believe the need for the NCCAA is greater than ever. The mission of this organization addresses the whole person, including the faith component that no other association can offer.
In the “Faith Based Competition” statement on the NCCAA website it says that the NCCAA is committed to:
1.supporting coaches and their institutions in a plan that will impact the lives of student-athletes for Christ in the present as well as in the future.
2.challenging the student-athlete via regional and national competition.
3.enabling student-athletes to participate in intercultural outreach ministries through missions.
4.expecting academic excellence.
5.encouraging Christians to be able to best serve family, school, church, and our world.
6.Making a positive impact in developing the leaders of tomorrow.
This is what happens daily on our campuses across this country each day of the school year and I am proud to hang the NCCAA banner in our athletic facilities to say that we stand side by side in this mission to utilize sport as the conduit for sharing God’s love for people and His plan for salvation. Just read the stories from our student athletes, fans, and local community leaders after a national championship, after a mission trip, or a community service project. The impact we have as an association is huge – more than we probably realize.
This past August I attended my first Leadership Summit. I was challenged to think about ways to engage this generation in leadership opportunities. Craig Groeschel, senior pastor at a church in Oklahoma, had some quotes I would like to share with you. He said, “don’t fear or judge this generation, believe in them.” They are a generation that wants to please, and are looking for guidance from their elders. Craig went on to say, “You do not delegate tasks to the next generation because you create followers. You delegate authority to create leaders.” Are we willing to give the reigns of leadership to this generation?
I have been reflective on my life since my last birthday. While I don’t aspire to be “hip” or in on the latest fad, as a coach of young people I never felt like I was that far away from their thought patterns and actions. So I took the Pew Research Center’s “How Millennial Are You” quiz thinking that I would score close to their criteria. Wow was I wrong! I wasn’t even in the top 50 percent of the Millennialism.
That opened my eyes to trying to understand more about the young people we are coaching and educating. Psalm 71:18 popped into my mind, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” We are called to train up the next generation so when they get old they will not depart from the faith (Proverbs 22:6). We are called to this guide this generation, they are thirsty for the wisdom we hold, the experiences we have had, and life of faith we have lived. Share it with them. Challenge them. Give them leadership opportunities and then let them lead.
Let’s take these six faith based NCCAA statements and make sure they are a priority in our athletic strategic plans this coming year. Let’s not try to change this generation to be like us, but to be like Christ. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.