Introduction to the 11 Commandments

During the 2003 season, Ohio State freshman Maurice Clarett had an outstanding season. Despite missing six games due to injury, Clarett still managed to post an astounding 1,325 yards for the season. To cap it all off, Clarett scored the game winning touchdown in the Tostidos Fiesta Bowl, giving the Buckeyes their first national championship since 1969. A few years after leading his team to victory, one would expect Clarett to be playing in the NFL. Where is Maurice Clarett today? He's in a state penitentiary serving a heavy sentence for armed robbery. The more pertinent question is what is his great 2003 season doing for him now...absolutely nothing. Sports can be an enjoyable and exciting experience. However, if that experience is merely about winning games and hearing the crowd cheer, then it will not last very long. Glory on the field or on the court only lasts a short while and once it's gone, it does very little for you. On the other hand, participating in sports can also give you something that will be of great benefit for the rest of your life. It's not fame, glory, or thrills...It's character. Character is a misunderstood term in our society. To some, character is about adhering to a set of correct principles or values. Once you understand the principles, then you should be able to act accordingly. When I examine cases such as Maurice Clarett, it appears that people know what the right thing is. However, what they lack are the skills to do what is right. Having character is about possessing those skills to function as a good human being should. The classical Greek philosopher Aristotle called these skills virtues. Virtues cannot be gained by merely hearing about them or reading about them. One must be trained to develop virtue. Virtues must be practiced. Football coaches, can you imagine teaching players to tackle just by showing them a video of tackling, discussing how to tackle and even demonstrating a proper tackle? Of course not! Basketball coaches, for your next practice, why don't you sit the kids on the bench and spend two hours telling them about how to dribble, shoot, pass, and play defense? That would be really silly! In order for players to master these skills, they must practice them. Character is no different, for as Aristotle said, “ If you want to have courage, you must do courageous things.” Once a person has acquired these virtues through training, they will consistently act in a manner that is congruent with those virtues. If a player has mastered the skill of tackling, when it comes time for a game, that player will consistently make good tackles. However, that same player may miss a tackle, but for the most part, that player has become a good tackler. On the same note, a person who has mastered a skill like humility will demonstrate that skill on a regular basis. They may mess up on occasion, but for the most part, that virtue will be ingrained deep within them. From this approach, character becomes more about who you are rather than about what you do. The question moves from, “What do I do?” to “What kind of person do I want to be.”

The purpose of the “11 Commandments” is to explain to coaches and athletes how they can practice five core virtues in their routines of practice and competition. The five core virtues are Humility Loyalty Courage Perseverance Self Control In order to give these virtues substance, an authoritative story is needed to define and demonstrate what these virtues are. I happen to be a Christian, so I will use the story of Jesus Christ to accomplish this. In doing this, I am not trying to convert anyone. I am merely trying to illuminate what these virtues are and prevent them from being vague abstractions. Hopefully, these virtues will fit into whatever story you find authoritative and you can still find them useful regardless of what your personal beliefs happen to be.

The 11 Commandments of Character
1. Give your absolute best effort at all times. 2. Don't be too good for anything. 3. Be Coachable. 4. Show up at all practices and events on time. 5. Obey all training rules and outside laws (school, community). 6. Don't say anything negative about your team or teammates. 7. Push yourself beyond what you think you are capable of doing. 8. Don't back down from anyone. 9. Focus on the present task. 10.Do the little things right. 11. Keep your emotions under control.

1,2,3 Humility John 13:1-5, 12-15

4,5,6 Loyalty John 18:25-27, 21:15-17

7,8 Courage Matthew 26:36-39, 42

9 Perseverance Hebrews 12:2-3

10, 11 Self Control Matthew 4:1-11