Fatherhood on Friday: Using Adversity Right

dad2summitFatherhood on Friday

If you’ve detected a recent theme in our lead Fatherhood on Friday stories (the college admissions scandal, feeling judged, building character), it’s been the importance of exposing our kids to adversity and helping them learn to overcome it. A lot of that happens every year during March Madness, where 98.5% of the teams ultimately lose.

We referenced the NCAA basketball tournament a few weeks back, in order to showcase the confluence of friendship, mentorship, and father-figurehood that comes with being part of a team. Given the drama that concluded this year’s tournament, we’re back to extol the ways that several coaches are helping their teams cope with the agony of defeat.

  • Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, after a disputed call helped end his team’s season: “Kids make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. Yes, officials will make mistakes. That’s part of the game. Get over it.”
  • Matt Painter, whose Purdue team lost in overtime after a remarkably improbable buzzer-beater: “There are a lot of coaches who haven’t made the Final Four that have really changed people’s lives with the time they’ve put in. And I think that’s the whole point.”
  • Chris Beard, coach of national runner-up Texas Tech, addressing his players’ regret over not delivering the school’s first title: “There’s nothing wrong with looking another man in the eyes and saying you’re sorry. That’s a sign of strength.”

And then there’s Tony Bennett, the coach who beat all three, while rebounding from one of the most ignominious defeats in tourney history. Inspired by his father, Final Four coach Dick Bennett (see above), Tony told his players: “If you learn to use adversity right, it will buy you a ticket to a place you couldn’t have gone any other way.”

And despite this season’s success, he deflected all the praise: “I don’t deserve credit. I don’t care about credit. I don’t pay attention to that. This isn’t about me.”

Whether or not you’re into sports, we like how they encourage men to express emotion, cope with calamity, and suit up tomorrow. That’s the same skill set any dad hopes to pass on to his kid.

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