posted on Monday, October 15, 2018
Respect Your Opponents
This was one of Ed Thomas’s most stressed fundamentals. In competition, there is an ever-present balancing act between confidence and overconfidence. Overconfidence means a lack of respect for your opponent. With Coach Thomas, it never mattered what the other team’s record was, the preparation was to be the same each week. Respecting your opponent was not limited to respect for others physical abilities. Coach T. always had high expectations of good sportsmanship. Through good sportsmanship, athletes can demonstrate self-respect for themselves and others.
Rule number one in athletics is to never motivate your opponent. There is no better way to motivate your opponent than to disrespect them.
None of this is earth-shaking news. Certainly, most high school coaches include respecting your opponent in their lessons. These lessons can be converted from athletics to real life as adults. The bottom line is to respect others, even if you have opposing goals.
How are adults today doing with modeling this lesson of respecting others? Examples are competing professional athletes, respecting authority figures, or opposing political parties. You be the judge.
"A gentle answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
During the times in life where we must compete, let the goal be to remain respectful while treating others with dignity. Ed Thomas showed us that it's possible to be highly competitive while remaining respectful to our opponent. He modeled this in both victory and defeat.
Al Kerns & the Ed Thomas Family Foundation
This post is written by Al Kerns, a long-time friend of Ed Thomas and a team member with the Ed Thomas Family Foundation. Al coached with Ed for 30+ years at Aplington-Parkersburg.