Responsibility and Sports



This page was written for the video "Responsibility" in the "In Search of Character" video series. We think you will find it very useful even if you aren't using the videos.


Some thoughts from Dr. Mike on Athletics and Responsibility before you begin:

Responsibility means accepting that you have control over your thoughts, actions, and feelings. It means recognizing that you have the power to make both good choices and poor choices. It means being accountable for the consequences of your actions.

Responsible people are dependable; they fulfill their obligations and do what needs to be done; they don’t make excuses for their mistakes; they always use good judgment; they exercise self- control.

As a coach, athlete, or parent of an athlete, you should never lose your temper, throw things, scream, or exhibit uncontrolled anger at any time. You should focus on demonstrating good sportsmanship always. You should make it a point to win with dignity and also lose with dignity.


Questions for discussion with student athletes: (If you are using the video, ask these questions after viewing. If you are not using the video, skip questions 1-3.)

1. Name something you personally could relate to in this video program and tell why.

2. The girl in the video who hit the parked car felt she had to report it. Why take responsibility for something nobody saw you do?

3. How did Lateefah’s story make you feel? What did you learn from it?

4. Think of yourself as a coach. What would be the benefits of having highly responsible athletes:

- for the team as a whole?

- for the team's reputation?

- for athlete-to-athlete relations?

- for athlete-to-coach relations?

- for a winning season?

- for possible scholarships to universities?

- for the team attitude?

- for locker room morale?

5. What do you think our team is already doing to model responsible behavior?

6. You have been hired as a consultant on good character. What three suggestions would you have for improving the level of responsible behavior within the team?

7. Who is the most responsible person you know? Why do you select that person? How many people who you know would name you? Almost all? At least half? Just a few?

8. A well known football coach once said, "Winning isn’t everything - it’s the only thing." What do you think of that philosophy? In what ways might a philosophy like that encourage poor character?

9. Another coach once said, "Success in athletics isn't about victories, defeats, trophies, medals, ribbons, fame, fortune or statistics." What do you think he meant by that? Do you agree, or disagree? Why?

10. What is the role of ethics in athletics? (As an athlete, do you believe that you have any responsibility to be ethical?)

11. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, "You cannot attain and maintain physical condition unless you are morally and mentally conditioned. I tell my players that our team condition depends on two factors-how hard they work on the floor during practice and how well they behave between practices." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?

12. Do athletes have a responsibility to be good role models? Explain your answer.

13. Do you care whether or not people think of you as responsible? What do you do to deserve that reputation (or not)?

14. One of your responsibilities as a member of a team is to be at your best and give maximum effort to the common cause. An athlete using tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs can't possibly do that. What should you do as an individual if you become aware of a teammate using these substances? What should we do as a team if we become aware of someone using these substances?

15. Do you agree or disagree with the following statements? Explain your answer:

- Being responsible is an important aspect of good character.

- My grades are not as important as the sport that I am involved in.

- Everyone is responsible for the development of his or her own personal character. - Responsible people don't blame others or make excuses for their actions and choices.

16. Imagine that someday you are the coach of a team. You need to give the team a brief talk about how responsibility relates to your sport. What would you say?



1. Do you consider chew or dip to be irresponsible?

2. Do you consider alcohol use by your athletes to be irresponsible?

3. Do you consider chew, dip or alcohol consumption out of season to be irresponsible?

4. What should you do if an athlete violates the code for dipping, chewing, drinking, etc? (check all that apply)

- Talk to the individual privately?

- Talk to the individual and with the team about the incident?

- Say nothing?

- Do nothing?

- Turn it over to the Athletic Director?

- Punish the team, i.e. make them run extra laps, do push-ups, etc.?

- Other_____________________________________________

5. Do coaches (check all that apply):

- talk about the athletic code at the start of the season?

- take the code seriously and impress on athletes its importance?

- use violations as a learning opportunity for the team?

- talk with parents about the code and ask for their support?


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