Our players all have one thing in common, a natural tendency to rebel and be drawn toward vice. Let’s face it, we all have that inside of us. If we are going to help our players be virtuous, then we are going to have to recognize that this is the starting point.

Juveniles are rebellious.

  • Juvenile violent crime continues to rise despite the fact that only ½ of all juvenile crime is reported.
  • The current high school drop out rate hovers at nearly 10% of all students.
  • Researchers now estimate that nearly ½ of all students enrolling in college need remedial courses.
  • The current teen age pregnancy rate is about 7% of all girls between the ages of 15 and 19.
  • The overall juvenile delinquency case load was 48% higher in 1997 than it was in 1988 and a whopping 400% larger than it was in 1960.
  • Last year statistics indicated that 32% of all students had consumed alcohol before the age of 13.
  • Illicit drug use by students stands at nearly 10% of the total student population.
  • 47.2% of all students say they have used marijuana.

The typical methodology used by the world to deal with juvenile rebelliousness is to try and correct the behavior through the use of rules, programs, laws, and rituals. However, it seems as though the more programs we put in place to deal with youth rebelliousness, the more they are rebelling. I have seen an interesting phenomena take place with high school kids that I think may serve as a key to helping today’s youth.

Why do some players and students who have been habitually rebellious respond positively to certain coaches or teachers and not others? I contend that it is because those coaches and teachers have gone beyond the “ritual” and have focused more on the “relationship” with the player or student. There is a big difference between a player or student conducting themselves virtuously out of “fear from punishment under the law”, versus out of love for their coach, teacher, parent, or fellow teammate.

I would much rather have my own children do something because they love me rather than doing something because they are afraid of the punishment they will receive from me if they don’t. It’s the same way with our players. If the only motivating factor for virtuous behavior is fear of punishment, rule, law, or ritual, they might behave for a short time, but eventually they will always revert back to vice. It’s their (our) nature! However, when the players or students have a loving relationship with coaches, teachers, and teammates, then that love can be a powerful deterrent to keep them away from vice and on the path of virtue.

I think this is why certain players and students who have been labeled (and they probably deserve that label) as troublemakers respond positively to coaches and teachers whose first objective is to establish a respectful relationship with that player and not simply to ram the rules, laws, rituals, or expectations down their throats.

Let’s start helping kids by building respectful loving relationships with them because in the long run, ritual without relationship and law without love…..just doesn’t work.