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The wrong culture of 'winning at all costs'.
I recently got a License from the organization Positive Coaching Alliance. The general principles of their teaching are playing fair, respect the opponents, respect the rules and, in particular, establish the correct relationship with winning.
Winning with honor, NOT AT ANY COST.
Winning is important, but when we do our best, even if the score says the opposite, we are winners too. I applaud this organization that is able to transform right principles into a science. Unfortunately, if we don't fight the attitude of winning at any cost, at SPORT LAW level, there's no way to correct the problem.
American athletes, in all sports, are free to use almost any substance that enhances sports performance. In Europe if an athlete is caught using forbidden pharmaceuticals, the first time he's suspended for 2 years and the second time he's banished for life. Even arrested!
What happens here?
In football, the first time, a few weeks suspension. The second time 2 months and so on until the 5th time in which the suspension is 1 year. Just a few weeks ago, a superstar of baseball who was tested positive at the anti-doping control, was suspended for 10 DAYS!! What does this mean? It means, do whatever you want with almost no consequences. What a great example for the new generation of youngsters who keep the posters of these people in their rooms.
The only sport that tried to take a precise position was track and field, in saying: "We will ban for life any athletes who use prohibited substances, independently from what other federations do." Very good. This was a couple of months before the last Olympic Games. Results? The first 7 sprinters were found positive at the anti-doping test and it was clear that the U.S. couldn't win any medals. Solution? Let's postpone the rule we just introduced to a non-specific date in the future and let's see if the athletes decide by themselves to slow down on drug use. Great!
If we don't introduce clear anti-doping rules, with exemplar suspension for years, we'll never cure this cancer that afflicts all sports in our country. Soccer could be an example if they have the courage to enforce strong rules. Clear control, example suspensions, even banning for life athletes who take steroids and build the right attitude in the new generation of players. And even though we teach them to do right, if, when they grow up, they have to compete against athletes who use drugs, they'll be tempted to do the same to compete at the same level.
Good examples come from the top down, not from the bottom up. This is a good example:
Shaquille O'Neal, before re-signing a contract for more than 100 million for 5 years with the Miami Heat, underwent a voluntary and very extensive medical examination in Italy at the most advanced laboratory in the world, The Institute of Sports Medicine of CONI. He passed the same tests that all the Italian Athletes have to pass to go to the Olympic Games. They are the most severe drug tests in the world of sports. Good job Shaq! Great example!
We need to make athletes like Barry Bonds pay for their mistakes, cancel all the records made using drugs and help kids recognize who the real heroes are. Given that a sports player could be considered a hero. But this topic would take us to far away, so for now, let's just try to cure the cancer that afflicts sports.
Posted on 24 Aug 2005 by coachgianni