I heard an interesting term during what seemed like a 12-hour pre-game show before the NCAA National Championship Football game between LSU and Clemson (January 13). I heard Nick Saban, the legendary football coach at Alabama, describe what both teams have or what it would take to win and that is “competitive character.” I had never heard that term before.
I think we saw examples of “competitive character” on both Sunday and Monday (January 12-13). One example of it was on display in the Kansas City Chiefs vs the Houston Texans playoff game on Sunday. The Texans got off to a 24-0 lead early in the second quarter. The KC quarterback, Patrick Mahomes , was seen on the sideline firing up his teammates with his positive energy. One fan left the game and many fans watching on TV must have left as well. I was one of them until the start of the third quarter. The Chiefs scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 28-24 lead. I had to put on my glasses to make sure I was reading the score correctly upon my return. The KC Chiefs went on to win 51-31. What a remarkable turnaround that exhibited “competitive character.”
Another example was in the LSU vs Clemson game. The Tigers as in Clemson, took a 17-7 lead over the tigers, as in LSU in the second quarter. Clemson had the momentum and they had a great defensive scheme that was containing LSU. During my disappointment, I told a friend that LSU would never see the lead in the game. But then LSU scored 21 unanswered points to end the first half to take a 28-17 lead. The second half was a battle with both teams sustaining their fighting spirit. But LSU skill, pressure, and perseverance, was too much as they went on to win 42-25. The ability and willingness for LSU to hang in there psychologically when trailing 17-7 and getting outplayed, was a testament to their “competitive character.”
I think we know what “competitive character” is when we see it. I don’t think I will be able to get Nick Saban to respond to me on what he meant to define it. So here is an attempt to put some definition to explain “competitive character” in an athletic setting.
Does the athlete show the following 8 traits:
- competitive spirit in positive energy and enthusiasm even when things are tough
- proper intensity to strive for excellence in practice and in games
- courage to push yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally
- confidence to believe in yourself in the face of fear
- resilience to bounce back from setbacks during and after the game
- integrity in your honesty, respect for others, and in your reliability
- responsibility in your commitment to the team values on and off the field
- loyalty to the team during good times and during difficult times.
Now take it a step further. Decide which traits above you can apply in your life!