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‘Winning With Character’ – Retired area judge wants focus of sports to be more than just winning.

By Douglas Fritz
Johnson City Press 

Is it all about winning?

Since that is sometimes the focus of sports, people like retired Sullivan County juvenile court judge Steven H. Jones believe the program “Winning With Character” is essential to change that focus.

“The problem we are seeing is that sports are sometimes becoming a tool for gamesmanship,” said Jones. “It’s all about winning and nothing else, that you win at any cost as long as it achieves that goal. It’s not cheating unless you get caught.

“And it’s not just in the professional ranks. You see it in college and high school as well.”

Those misaligned thoughts are why Jones said the “Winning With Character” seminar is important for anybody involved with sports at any level. The event will be held Aug. 1 at Milligan College’s Gregory Center from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $20, and includes lunch.

Jones was a pioneer in developing the Character Counts! Program, and has traveled throughout the United States to help communities develop character-building programs. The six parts of the Character Counts! value system are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship.

While working on this system, Jones said he realized a need to reach out to the world of sports.

“Two years ago we decided one area that had a tremendous amount of influence on young people was sports,” said Jones, who also serves on the National Council on Juvenile Justice and Crime Prevention. “We wanted to see sports used not only as a competitive tool, but also to teach young people the values we feel are important to succeed in life.

“We want to see sports give back to the children. It’s not just the thrill of competition and winning, but we think building character should be paramount in sports.”

And Jones said this means the focus needs to change.

“We’re going to the extent of saying that winning is not the most essential thing, but rather developing positive life skills in a proper moral dimension,” he said. “We’ve developed a curriculum that will teach coaches to achieve these goals, so kids can learn life skills that will stay with them for life.

“Our slogan is: If you have character, you’ve already won.”

The lead speaker will be Dr. Gary Smit, who is one of the most noted character educators in the nation. He served as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent in Wisconsin for 34 years. Also speaking is Anderson University athletic director Bob Beville, who will talk about how to get started at the recreation department level.

“He will talk about how you want to make sports fun for kids,” said Jones. “Most kids who quit sports do so because they don’t have fun.”

Wrapping up the event will be a motivational speech by Abingdon, Va., native Doug Blevins, who overcame cerebral palsy to become one of the National Football League’s most successful kicking coaches.

“This is open to all coaches from the recreation level to middle school to high school and college,” said Jones.

For more information on the event, call Rich Aubrey at 975-8029 or e-mail him atRAubrey@milligan.edu. Area coaches will get in-service credit for attending the seminar.

A follow-up community night will be held Aug. 21 at Milligan College’s Seeger Chapel at 7:30 p.m. Former University of Tennessee standout quarterback Heath Shuler, who also played for the Washington Redskins in the NFL, will be the guest speaker.

Johnson City Press Article

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MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan College, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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