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Culture Keepers: Are You One?

March 29, 2009 10:00 PM
By David Jacobson, Positive Coaching Alliance

Many of us start out in organizations with a set of rules or a code of conduct. They form the basis of our organizational value system. But when we as members of the organization – whether we're a coach, a parent, a player, a community supporter, or an administrator – begin to look for ways to enrich those formal codes with more informal "values demonstrations," we begin to foster culture. Simply said, it becomes the unwritten, "This is how we do it here" kind of feeling and mentality.

At Responsible Sports, we tend to think culture is best developed and maintained not through telling, but by doing. By demonstrating the principles and values in action. And by taking those steps ourselves, we create an environment where others can follow. When one parent walks across the bleachers to congratulate a parent of the opponent, it speaks volumes about the culture of the team. That shows individual leadership and a personal commitment to the culture of honoring the game, including Opponents. (Remember, "Honoring The Game" is about ROOTS – Positive Coaching Alliance's clever acronym to remember the core elements of honoring the game: Rules, Officials, Opponents, Teammates and Self. Learn more about ROOTS.)
  • Players on the pitch will kick the ball out of bounds when a player on the other team is injured.
  • Or consider when a player congratulates an opposing team's goaltender after making a great save.
But culture is kept not just on the field, but in the stands as well... cheering for a great play made by an opponent for example. Lead a targeted cheering effort in the stands one weekend. (Learn more about targeted cheering.)
  • Try sticking around – for the Championship game after your team has been eliminated and cheer on the team that narrowly beat your team in a hard, well-fought game.
  • Cheer for the Coach – he or she needs praise too!
  • Give a special reward to a player on your team who might not have scored a goal but was the unsung defensive hero.
  • And if you should be so lucky to earn more than your fundraising goal this year, consider donating a little to your league to help your opponents meet their goals.
We're not saying it's easy. But it's worth it. Education through sport can develop children of high character, who lead, persevere, overcome adversity and function as productive team members. Sports provide the ideal 'virtual classroom' for teaching life lessons and parents who demonstrate responsibility around the rink lead a good example for their children to follow.

To learn more about Culture Keepers and how you can involve your organization in Responsible Sports visit today! 

In an effort to benefit millions of youth athletes, parents and coaches, this article is among a series created exclusively for partners in the Liberty Mutual Responsible SportsTM program ( powered by Positive Coaching Alliance (



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