Friday, February 27, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #218, March 2, 2009

The game of football requires speed, strength, ability, and that all encompassing word – athleticism. When it is played at the professional level, it needs to not just possess, but exemplify, SPORTSMANSHIP. While that characteristic is true at all levels in all sports, those who play at the professional level should be leaders and examples of that trait.

Included in that word sportsmanship is the essence of the word: respect – which leads me to Super Bowl XLIII where the Pittsburgh Steelers the Arizona Cardinals 27-23. What I saw, and hopefully you did as well, was the respect each team had for the other -- prior to the game, during the game and post-game, except for a single incident where Steelers LB #92 James Harrison “lost it” by pounding on a Cardinals’ player during and after the play .

The Steelers were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for that foul, and many thought that Harrison should have been ejected from the game. My support goes to the official who called the foul and witnessed its severity first-hand. I had a lot of respect for Harrison, until he was penalized for that personal foul. When he lost his poise, he lost my respect.

I was taught to never, ever disrespect your teammates, your coach, your organization, and yes, even your opponents. The rules of a sport must be deeply woven into the identities of the participants. In my book, “It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” it states “you play to win the game,” but I also strongly emphasize that one must “always keep your poise” and “do the right thing.”

You don’t play the game right just for the reward you might get at the end; you play the game right – and with respect – because that’s who you are (or should be) and what you value most. The integrity of sports is not based on who wins the majority of the games; the integrity of sports demands that those who play it, respect it!

Tomorrow, March 3, 2009, is “National Sportsmanship Day.” I have never been a fan of “days.” Mother’s Day, for example. We should never need a “day” to honor our mothers – that honor and respect should happen everyday. I feel the same about Sportsmanship Day – it needs to happen everyday and in every game! You can’t teach sportsmanship; you need to model it!

Will you model sportsmanship in everything you do?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

On The Tunney Side of the Street #216, Feb.16, 2009 (

After Further Review … Two prominent sports stars are in the spotlight as I write this: Santonio Holmes and Michael Phelps - both for the wrong reasons. Holmes caught the winning touchdown pass with 35 seconds left in Super Bow XLIII that sealed the Pittsburgh Steelers
sixth Super Bowl title as they defeated the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

Holmes’ catch was certainly a sensational ‘feet’ of athletiscm and he was rewarded by being named Super bowl XLIII MVP. Holmes has had his share of off-field problems, and during the 2008 season Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin deactivated him for one game. Holmes was arrested and charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana. Small amount? Sorta like being “a little bit pregnant.”

Where was his focus and sense of loyalty to his T.E.A.M. during the season? BTW, that game for which Holmes was suspended, the Steelers lost to the New York Giants. The Giants, of course, had their own issues during the 2008 season with WR Plaxico Burress, who was arrested – and suspended – for shooting himself in the leg with a gun he was not licensed to carry.
What happened to “just do the right thing” as we say in my book, “It’s the Will, Not the Skill.”

Holmes says he’s “learned his lesson” and was given cogitative advice from teammate Hines Ward, who told Holmes (when he won the MVP) to “stay humble.” Holmes spent his time after the Super Bowl superbowl/43 game with his 3 young kids watching a movie. Good for him!

Phelps, winner of 8 gold medals for the USA in the 2008 Olympics held in Beijing, was photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe (bong) in November 2008 at a party. Phelps, who attributes his swimming prowess to his superior training and conditioning, obviously lost his focus on what got him to the pinnacle of success.

Phelps appeared almost daily in the news apologizing for his “regrettable behavior,” which has now cost him the loss of sponsorships, as well as esteem. Further, the USA Swimming Committee suspended him for 3 months. While it is admirable that Phelps is remorseful, the “role model” tag, as envisioned here, is the athlete who says “no way” and thus avoids situations like these in the first place.

Some have proclaimed both Holmes and Phelps as heroes for their athletic accomplishments. Heroes? Not in my book. Role models? Hopefully, only if their future behavior is unequivocal, and casts a positive influence on others.

Will your behavior reflect yourself as a role model, rather than focusing on sports “heroes”?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On The Tunney Side of the Street #215, Feb.9, 2009 (

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #215 – February 9, 2009

After Further Review … A headline in a recent publication caught my eye: “WHY WORRY ABOUT WHO’S NO. 1, WHEN EDUCATION IS NO. 2?” was a reference to high school football recruits in choosing a college. As a lifelong educator, it certainly seems that “education” has taken a back seat for high school football stars enrolling in colleges and universities. “You go to school to learn” we were told when we were young. Guess that’s changed when it comes to athletic pursuits.

The month of February is when graduating high school football players are able to “commit” to a college/university. Some of these players have been recruited or at least tracked throughout their high school career. They are labeled “blue chippers.”

So what criteria do those blue chippers use to decide which college/university to attend? Well, try this: 1) Is my ability good enough to make the T.E.A.M. or will I sit on the bench? 2) How is the school ranked in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series)? 3) Does the school have a course of study to match my interests? Please note that while education is listed here as #3, there may be other factors that precede it; for example: Who’s the coach? Is the school located in the type of climate I want? What is the school’s offer in terms of my “free ride” (scholarship, et al) + fringe benefits?

It is apparent that some football players go to college only to move on to the NFL, so then the question becomes: who cares what the education/academic level is? May I remind athletes who think in those terms , that of all the hundreds of college football players eligible (one does not have to graduate), the NFL drafts about 350 each year; and of those drafted, less than 100 “make it” in the NFL. (

So if one “goes to school to learn” and his chances of getting a set-for-life salary are minimal, what criteria should be used in choosing a school of higher education? Graduation from college seems to be irrelevant.

When you review the F.G.R. (Federal Graduation rate) of teams playing in the BCS, one finds that the two teams that played for the 2008 championship – Florida and Oklahoma – graduate only 36% of their football players. Other schools in the top BCS teams in 2008 had graduation rates 30% below those of other students in their schools.

Will you keep education as a priority, along with sports, in selecting a college?

For more information about Jim Tunney, please visit his website:, or if you would like to respond to this message, please send your email to