What's Happening in Character?

Humility in Sports—Why Does it Matter?

Posted by Malcolm Shaw on Thu, Oct 11, 2018 @ 09:10 AM

Humility is one of the most respectable and admirable traits that an athlete can possess. The prime essence of a humble athlete is the act of selflessness and modesty which transcends to the world. Oftentimes in the realm of sports we witness many accounts of prideful behavior, whether it be on or off the playing field. Being a competitive athlete myself, I’ve watched and observed professional athletes of the highest caliber. As much as I would gravitate to their individual skills and talents, I would even more so be observant of their character and demeanor.

When athletes talk about humility and comprehensively act on it (Principle 2), they set aMalcolm precedent for fostering good character.

Below are a few ways humility is exemplified and embodied in an athlete. 

Modesty

A modest athlete is one who handles character gracefully on and off the field. An individual who doesn’t excessively floss their achievements goes far in character cultivation. When they are in the spotlight, they carry themselves in a way that draws limited attention (even when there is). Modesty in a successful athlete is a trait noticed and respected by many.

Leads by example

Leading by example can come in many forms. Whether on or off the field, leadership is noticed everywhere. Being the hardest and most consistent worker, or being the only one to help clean up equipment after practice are all ways leadership is exemplified . Leadership in the world of sports is not prideful, but it looks to inspire and better others.

Lifts those around them

Athletes who embody humility take responsibility for their actions, especially when things don’t go well. In a team sport setting, there are usually situations where blame shifting occurs. Examples of blame shifting can be things such as, “We lost because of you” or “Your mistake costed us the game.” In situations like these it takes someone with humility to diffuse the problem by sharing some of the responsibility. 

Coachable

Being a coachable athlete reflects a humble heart. Regardless of one's talent, every athlete needs to embrace being coached and mentored to reach their full potential. Listening, absorbing and learning are all necessary for embodying humility in athletics.

Having being involved with sports most of my life,  I’ve had the privilege of being surrounded by many talented athletes. I’ve been around arrogant as well respectful ones. I can assure you that those who embodied humility on and off the field made greater impact to the team’s success as well as on other players. Athletes characterized by humility always have a significant affect on the people they play with and against.

What now?

Checking your ego is an ongoing process when it comes to displaying a humble nature. Do you see a trend with the four points that I shared? What are some other key characteristics or components that you feel a humble athlete should have? Do you have any personal examples you wish to share? Whether you’re an athlete reading this or not, my hope for you is that you are able to reflect on how humility can change the way you lead, impact or in this case, play.

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MS 1-344070-editedMalcolm Shaw has a Degree in Communications. He is currently living in Sweden, pursuing a professional career in soccer.