Thursday, July 30, 2015

Real Winners

My favorite coach in all of professional sports is San Antonio Spurs head man Gregg Popovich.  Pop treats the mid-game timeout sideline interview with the TV reporter the way it should be treated: with absolute disdain and like the waste of valuable coaching time that it is.  And he has won five NBA Titles running an old-school ball-movement offense.  Now we know that he believes there should be winners and losers in sports.

Popovich was interviewed by KNBR Radio in San Francisco last week in a rare (for him) wide-ranging discussion of topics in and out of sports--and he was asked about our "trophy culture:

“We’ve all been involved in kid’s sports, whether it’s clinics or our own kids,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that the treats are OK at the end of game for the group, or a banquet-type thing at the end of the season. But awards are a different thing. Giving out awards after every game or clinic for no reason whatsoever, I think it takes away from people.

The education you get from disappointment, (compared to) winning and everything going your way all the time, where no matter what you do, it’s going to be rosy, that’s not (my belief). I think you learn to handle a little disappointment, handle a loss and figure it out, whether it’s with your coach or parents or a mentor. I think it’s a huge lesson that’s missed with a lot of kids.”

Now before you go off on Popovich as being a "cranky old curmudgeon" in that same interview he lauds the social changes that have taken place in the past decade as it pertains to women's and gay rights.  And he had a woman coach the Spurs Summer League team--saying that she was more than qualified to lead men (they won the Summer League title as well, by the way).

And like many of us in the business world, Coach Popovich finds this new generation of workers--we can call them the Millenials--are totally incapable of accepting failure or criticism as opportunities to become better.  They've always been told they are "the best", they have the participation trophies for just showing up so everyone on the team or the dance troupe were treated "fairly". 

Popovich isn't alone in his beliefs.  For a great expose on the "Trophy Culture", check out the latest HBO Real Sports to see what is happening to all of those kids with the rooms full of awards for just showing up

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