By Demetris Constantinou, Contributor
In an era of mass commercialization, where the desire for profit and power become the main drivers of one’s actions, we seek to understand what keeps athletes from going astray, what keeps them focused in their goals and prevents them from losing sight of their game. From a very young age, athletes develop moral values, as well as character traits, that guide them through life, through the tough as well as the good times. In this article, we seek to explore what these values and traits are and why athletes develop and stick to them. Specifically, we will begin by trying to understand what values and traits are, how one develops them and how sports through their nature, grow some specific values and traits in every athlete.
Values can usually be associated with guiding principles in life; in the simplest of terms, they can be viewed as the baseline of every person’s actions and can be shaped through one’s upbringing and life experiences. Character traits on the other hand are parts of one’s behavior and can be easily observed just by interacting with somebody. Traits are considered as being more actively projected to others while values, are more silent, but likely more influential. Similarly to our values, traits are also developed through one’s experiences, upbringing, cultural background as well as influences.
Athletes, from a very young age, tend to devote a large part of their lives in a specific sport, making that sport the primary driver of their lives. The sport, as well as the people who guide you through it, are usually the one’s that have the most influence in the values and traits an athlete will develop. Sports are usually associated with competition, toughness, commitment, respect and multiple other characteristics that undoubtedly shape every athlete’s life, on and off the court. In the world of sports, one cannot simply play at a high level without being competitive and committed, as Billie Jean King, the legendary Tennis player said, “champions keep playing until they get it right”. This exactly is the sort of mentality that athletes have throughout their lives. The competitive instinct and the commitment to perfection are values and traits that no other career pushes for more than sports. Among the greatest, yet most under-appreciated values developed through sports are respect and fairness. When competing at a high level, you learn to view others for what they are, their skill, their love of the sport and nothing beyond that. Their background, color or political affiliations don’t matter in the field of sports because among athletes, the love for the game is what counts.
The values and traits mentioned above, in combination with the culture of sportsmanship and fair play, make athletes among the most dynamic personalities and set them up for success in their life beyond sports. It’s no coincidence that you see athletes speaking up about social issues and injustices when sports, to a large extent, create responsible citizens, through cultivating equality, inclusion, fairness and above all, respect for the human being. Having said that, athletes’ values don’t just help them develop into social warriors but rather, provide them with the toolkit to become great businessmen that never lose sight of society’s needs. It’s no coincidence that you see many high-profile retired athletes such as Shaquille O’Neal, Maria Sharapova and David Beckham excelling in their life after sports. By no means, do we say that all athletes will become successful like them, but it’s without question that sports helped them develop into what they are and planted the seeds for their success.
For more information on the values and traits cultivated through sports, and how those can be leveraged towards a better life after sports, you may get in touch with us at [email protected] .