Through being considered clever I have suffered much…..
If you put new ideas before the eyes of fools
They’ll think you foolish and worthless into the bargain;
And if you are thought superior to those who have
Some reputation for learning, you will become hated
Euripides Medea (Greek); 480-406 B.C.
Motivation, or the lack of motivation, has always fascinated me. Pick a job or a movement and you will soon see the motivated and the unmotivated. Car salesmen, realtors, insurance agents, teachers, lawyers and every other profession has its motivated and unmotivated.
Two teachers in the same school with the same students produce different results. One teacher motivates her students while another teacher in the same school has unmotivated students.
For every great car salesman there are nine others who just can’t seem to sell the same cars. Two preachers graduate from the same seminary, but ten years later one of them has a church with five thousand members and the other pastors a small rural church with seventy members.
Many are called, but few are chosen” is an old bible verse that warns the individual of the dangers of being unmotivated. Sports teams, businesses, cities, churches and organizations live and die by the degree of motivation possessed by the individuals in that endeavor.
People choose their professions based on expected income, interest in a certain livelihood or motivation. The product a person chooses to sell may be the best of its kind, but the product may not be a success because the person selling the product is unmotivated or indifferent.
Writing sports for over forty years has taught me truths not always evident on the surface of the sport, but manifesting itself later in ways that seem unrelated.
The indirect result of athletic success
Schools that experience success in their athletic programs discover a relationship between good academics and good sports programs. The catalyst for high achievement in classroom or athletic field is always motivation. Attention to detail, rigorous study and training lead to achievement in classrooms and athletic fields.
Schools and colleges that emphasize academics, usually find sports programs operating at a higher level of excellence. Institutions suffering academically usually mirror themselves athletically. Several decades ago I approached the Dougherty County School System with suggestions for improving overall sports programs. I was ignored and marginalized.
The members of the Board of Education reminded me that academics was their concern and not sports programs. Duh!!! The esteemed members of the BOE were quick to point out that they hired the best coaches and the high schools were doing just fine.
Their argument was framed in a way to suggest that any idea for athletic improvement was not possible until academic problems were corrected. This circular argument insured nothing in academics or athletics would be improved.
Much younger and naïve at the time, I left the meeting with a shred of dignity and the utter humiliation of bringing up an athletic question to a board of education burdened with great academic and philosophical problems.
In reality, Dougherty County was not academically superior at the time and the sports programs were nothing to hang your hat on either. The board had no solutions to improve academics or athletics. The will to seek improvements just wasn’t there. Today we find an almost identical lack of the same ingredient.
It was and still is MOTIVATION!
I always received the same counter argument to the question: Can’t we improve athletics?
There can be no athletic improvement because we are overburdened with academic problems, When we sort out the academic problems then we can sort out the athletic problem.
In the meantime I should go away and feel shamed desiring to destroy academics by emphasizing athletics. I could never make it clear to board members that academics and athletics are not exclusive entities! You could have improvements in both areas at the same time. I really believe their thinking involved only one solution, “You have to choose one or the other”. A marriage between the two disciplines was not possible. Balderdash! Every endeavor can be refined and improved. The missing ingredient was MOTIVATION!
My evil plan is revealed
I really wanted to use the athletic question as an entrée to a second question, “Why can’t we be motivated to formulate a plan for better academics while also preparing our athletic programs for an upgrade?” The entire question was built on more than football, basketball, etc.
The second part of the presentation included adding more academic support personnel, additional Asst. Principals and more support for band and music. It never even reached the floor for debate and died of neglect.
Years later I can finally reveal a hidden and evil agenda. I always hoped in my heart to see Dougherty County schools reach high levels of both academics and athletics! That’s right! My evil plan for world domination based on giving Dougherty County students the best of everything we had to offer. To expect nothing less than the best. How could we as adults expect students to push harder in classrooms and on athletic fields if we were not doing likewise?
What I would like to happen is a serious look at the future of all sports in the school system. If the solution requires a unique and out of the box approach to the future, then so be it. One obvious suggestion would be to eliminate sports at Albany High.
I hear the howls of administrators, etc and the hardening of neck muscles. “We are OK and don’t need your help, Mr. Lofton”. My question then becomes, “What is your motivation for keeping a sports team that doesn’t win, place or show on the football field?”
What does an under-manned, under-funded patch work quilt of a football team do in any positive way for your school, your students or the city of Albany? School board members should be interested in any idea which asks for the best possible academic and athletic programs for the school system.
If you watch Prep Sports Plus on Georgia Public Broadcasting you see an example of the best of both worlds. Large and small schools all over Georgia are producing superior athletics and achieving academic success.
Let’s not wait years and years and discover nothing has changed and we are still mired in mediocrity.
I’m MOTIVATED … are you?
Written by Sonny Lofton.