In an attempt to get inspired to write regularly again, let me take a moment to jot down some random Friday thoughts and see if I can tie them to leadership.
It seems that every time a long-time football coach retires, he talks about how he saw his role as a developer of young men. Many certainly have. I can think of a number who have left a long wake of young men who were having trouble with school or the law and turned them into students and men of character who could succeed in life. If that’s true, then football coaches are indeed among the best of models for leadership.
That brings me back to the word, “de-commit.” It’s a word that’s being more and more widely used in the world of college athletics recruiting. I saw it again in the paper this morning. An athlete commits to one school but circumstances change or the athlete, claiming youth and immaturity, simply changes his mind. He then “de-commits” and then commits to another school.
But “de-commit” is not a word. Instead, let’s call a spade a spade: the athlete is breaking his word. The reasons might be defensible, but his promise is no longer dependable. What makes it worse is that coaches don’t stop recruiting someone when they commit somewhere, because they can always de-commit. What a horrible starting point if the object is to develop men of character. That’s what was so refreshing about this story last year about Paul Johnson, coach at Georgia Tech:
A quarterback from Tampa made a commitment to Georgia Tech but wanted to take a visit to Auburn. Perhaps he realized he hadn’t taken full advantage of the lavish attention poured out on recruits during their official visits. Perhaps he wanted to keep his options open. Perhaps he was having doubts. Either way, Johnson warned him that he’d lose his scholarship offer if he visited another school. He decided to call Johnson’s bluff, and Johnson let him go. I think the most remarkable part of the story is that this episode made the news.
If my boys were interested in playing football, I’d put Georgia Tech a little higher on my list because of this story. I desire that my kids grow up to be men of character. And coaches like Paul Johnson know how to build men.