Michael,

I appreciated reading your piece and somewhat agree. Sports can build character. Through my experiences as a collegiate basketball coach I have noticed the transformation of some athletes through sport and the seemingly degradation of others on the same team.

The one common thread that I have put my finger on is coaching, but not just from the assigned coach. I think it starts way before that time. The coaching that a parent provides to a youth as they are introduced to sports gives the future player a healthy mindset about how to approach competition, deal with defeat and learn from all of his/her experiences.

By the time youth hit their teenage years, much of their mindset (values) is set. It is extremely hard for coaching or any chance encounter in sports to change this, especially if the parents are still present and reinforcing, intentionally or not, negative mindsets. Media can also be a less than optimal influence.

I will be launching a program soon (www.manupnation.com) to teach and empower parents and youth to make sports a positive character building experience. If you have time, I'd love to chat with you about your thoughts.

Coach Campbell