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  • Writer's pictureEmily Robinson

Are you living by your principles or do they just sound nice?

In the dynamic world of athletics, where sport mixes with morality, this fundamental question reaches beyond the playing field: do athletes truly live by the principles they profess, or are these principles merely a facade created solely to uphold their reputation? Let’s take a moment to consider Lance Armstrong. Lance, a former professional cyclist and seven-time Tour de France champion was truly an athletic superstar. He publicly proclaimed his commitment to fair play, integrity, and the fight against steroid use, presenting himself as a role model of morality. However, it later emerged that he had consistently used performance-enhancing drugs, leading to the stripping of his titles and the tarnishment of his reputation. Lance's story is just one among many where actions sometimes starkly contradict professed principles, highlighting the collision between athletics and morality. As athletes, it's imperative that we reflect and ask ourselves if our actions truly align with the principles we claim or if they simply serve as the mask we wear around others, hiding our true character beneath. So I ask you, are you living by your principles or do they just sound nice?

Quick Principles Recap

As discussed in the previous blog, your principles are the beliefs and values you hold dearest to your heart. They are the moral code by which you live your life, guiding your decisions, actions, and interactions with others. If you are struggling to pinpoint what your principles are, the following tips will help you generate some ideas:

  1. Reflect on your values

  2. Consider personal experiences

  3. Seek feedback from trusted individuals 

  4. Review and revise

If you are searching for a deeper guide for defining your principles, take a moment to read through the previous blog post, Passions & Principles: Sports Addition.

Why are principles so important in sports?

Living by your principles is paramount as an athlete, as it upholds the integrity of your sport, your team and most importantly, yourself. By adhering to principles like honesty, fairness, and respect, you ensure that your actions, both on and off the field, align with what you value. This commitment to your principles sets a powerful example for fans, especially young aspiring athletes, who look to you as a role model. Young athletes often view older athletes in their sport with a mixture of emotions, including:

  • Admiration

  • Inspiration

  • Aspiration

Think back to a Friday night in elementary school when you went to watch your high school team play the sport you loved. Did you think it was lame? Did you watch the team and suddenly not want to play the sport anymore? No. From the stands, you watched, and your motivation and passion for the game exploded. You couldn’t wait to be in their shoes. You once looked up to those players as shining examples of what you hoped to achieve, and now you have the chance to inspire the next generation as their new role model. Now, as you step onto the field or court, remember that you are not just playing for yourself but for the young eyes watching from the sidelines, eager to follow in your footsteps. Abide by your principles and be someone worth following. 

Putting the eye of the youth to the side, consistently living by your principles not only earns you the trust and respect of teammates, coaches, and fans but also fosters positive relationships within the sports community. Adhering to principles promotes personal growth and character development, creating qualities of discipline, resilience, and empathy that are essential for your success in sports and life. Ultimately, as you live by your principles, you are better positioned for long-term success, as your commitment to your principles serves as a solid foundation for achievement and fulfillment in your athletic career.

Am I really living by my principles?

It's easy to claim a commitment to integrity, or sportsmanship, or dedication, but how do you know if you’re consistently living by these principles in every aspect of your life? Are you acting with integrity when faced with difficult decisions? Are you demonstrating sportsmanship in blowout wins or crippling defeats? Are you putting in the necessary effort and dedication to achieve your goals? These are the questions we must honestly ask ourselves to ensure our words align with our actions when living by our principles as athletes. Below are some strategies to help evaluate your actions and potentially highlight areas in need of tweaking:

  1. Reflect on Performance:

Consider how your actions and decisions, both in and out of the realm of sports, align with your core principles. Think about moments of adversity, interactions with peers, and pivotal decisions that have shaped your athletic journey.

  1. Review Behavior:

Evaluate your behaviors while competing, are you proud of how you acted in the heat of battle? Did you demonstrate good sportsmanship, regardless of the scoreboard? Did you treat teammates, opponents, coaches, and officials with respect and fairness?

  1. Assess Training Habits

Consider your training and preparation. Are you dedicated to putting in the necessary effort and discipline to improve your skills and performance? Do you have a positive mindset and a strong work ethic?

  1. Evaluate Off-Field Behavior

Evaluate how your behavior outside of competition aligns with your athletic principles. Are you a positive influence on your team and in your community? Do you uphold your principles in interactions with others? How do you treat your friends and family members? Who are you when you think no one is watching?

  1. Seek Feedback

Seek feedback from coaches, teammates, and mentors regarding your commitment to your principles. Their perspectives can offer valuable insight and can help you pinpoint areas where you can grow.

  1. Course Correct as Needed

Be truthful with yourself regarding any inconsistencies between your principles and behaviors. If you identify areas where your behavior does not align with your values, take proactive steps to make changes and realign your actions with your principles. Continuously strive to improve and grow as both an athlete and an individual.

As athletes strive to uphold their principles, self-reflection becomes essential. By honestly evaluating our performance, sportsmanship, training habits, and off-field conduct and seeking input from trusted sources, we pave the way for growth and alignment with our core values. Let each day serve as an opportunity for adjustment, refinement, and personal growth, ensuring that we not only excel in our sport but also embody integrity, sportsmanship, and dedication in all aspects of our lives.

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