16th Annual National Sportsmanship Day to be held March 7th
Click here to read a special edition National Sportsmanship Day newsletter. The newsletter will provide you with details on how to download a National Sportsmanship Day "How-To-Packet" for your school, club or team. The packet includes a number of stimulating discussion topics.
This year's discussion topics will include a new feature entitled:
"An Uncommon Act of Principle"
On March 7, over six million students, teachers, coaches and administrators will discuss sportsmanship issues raised in the discussion section of the "how-to-packet." Included in this year's discussion options will be a very special act of principle which occurred in 1947, and involved two basketball legends
In March 1947, tiny Holy Cross College with an enrollment of 1,400 men, won the NCAA Division I men's basketball championship. Playing a key reserve role on the team was a freshman who went on to become one of the greatest players in basketball history.
Due to a combination of homesickness and his feeling that he should have played more minutes during the just completed season, the freshman, a native of New York City, waited several weeks after the season concluded, and then wrote a letter to legendary St John's University coach, Joe Lapchick. In his letter, the freshman relayed his unhappiness at Holy Cross, and asked Coach Lapchick if he could transfer to St. John's, located only miles from his home.
A decade later, this former freshman, who at the time was the most valuable player in the NBA, shared Coach Lapchick's response in his book, "Basketball Is My Life."
You're not in college primarily to play basketball, but to get an education, and you're getting a very good one at Holy Cross. If you should transfer to St. John's you wouldn't be gaining anything in that respect.
Your coach at Holy Cross, Doggie Julian, is one of the finest basketball coaches in America, and someday you'll be proud you've played for him. He doesn't want to hurt you and isn't doing so deliberately. I know he is depending heavily on you in future years, and would be very much upset if he knew how you felt.
Aside from everything else, transferring from one college to another is at best a risky move. You don't know if you're going out of the frying pan into the fire. And college rules dictate that you must wait a year before being eligible for varsity competition. This would hardly make it worthwhile for you.
Be patient. You're only a freshman. Your turn will come. Stay at Holy Cross. You'll never regret it.
The restless freshman was the legendary Bob Cousy. On many occasions, Bob, a man of great integrity himself, has expressed his appreciation for Coach Lapchick's advice, and his great admiration for Coach Lapchick's act of principle.
(This story was taken from the forthcoming "The Encyclopedia of Sports Parenting," (Warner) by Dan Doyle with Deborah Doermann Burch.)
National Sportsmanship Day Discussion Points
- What would contemporary coaches have done in the same situation?
- Given the pressure to win and the financial ramifications involved, how many contemporary college coaches would feel that they could even think about writing such a letter?
- Why was what Coach Lapchick did so admirable?
- Should loyalty to a school and to a coach enter into an athlete's decision? And how heavily should this loyalty factor into that decision?
- How many contemporary college coaches would emphasize and promote the importance of education, as Coach Lapchick did?
- How does the level of loyalty of a Division I athlete to his/her school and team compare to the level of loyalty that a professional athlete should feel to his/her team, city, and fans?