A high school football team (or any team for that matter) is more than the sum of the individuals that make up the team. Players, coaches, parents, teachers, administrators, boosters, students, and fans are the members. A football community, like the individual persons from which they are formed, takes on a kind of spirit, personality, or “life of its own” that becomes greater than the sum of it’s physical parts.

The spirit that emerges from a football community is formed by a unique combination of human actions, program history, and cultural influences. Other key external elements in the formation of each team’s spirit can be:

  1. The team’s facilities. The game field, stadium, locker room, concession stand, and weight room, are representative of the communities values, prestige, and class.
  2. The general economic and educational level of the community as a whole.
  3. The power structure of the governing board and administration, as well as the leadership style of the head coach.
  4. The way the football community handles conflict.
  5. The core philosophies of the football program.
  6. How the football community perceives itself.

The communal spirit that emerges in every football community captures the hopes, fears, and dreams for the team. That spirit is more than the collection of individual attitudes; it is shaped by the past and formed by the current culture. It lives in the stories that are told in the hallways of the school and whispered at the coffee shop on Saturday morning.

The football community’s spirit or “ethos” can either give life to or work at destroying the spiritual fabric of the community that gave life to it. In every healthy football community you will find that the destructive aspects of the communal spirit have been minimized or eliminated. The reverse is true in football communities that are struggling. If you want to improve any football community’s spirit you must first work to minimize the destructive aspects of its communal ethos. This takes more than giving a good pregame speech on Friday night, having a high powered offense, new uniforms, a good program guide, or even pruning a handful of contentious players or parents from the community; rather, transformation of the community’s spirit requires the head coach to identify and conduct spiritual warfare on several key destructive spirits that can grow in every community. These destructive spirits are:

  1. Iron clad traditions and ideological lines that create battlefronts for interpersonal and petty quarrels between members. A culture where has law replaced love.
  2. A consumerist culture where much is given to members and nothing is asked for in return.
  3. Misuse of power and creation of an oppressive “worldly” empire by those in charge.
  4. Isolation from the surrounding community and higher social obligations.
  5. Apathy of its members.
  6. Paralyzing fear in the face of changing realities.
  7. An attitude of “Good enough” – self sufficiency. We have arrived.

By identifying these spirits in your football community and creating new practices to address them, you can transform your community’s ethos into one of “victory” and “love”.