Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Character of the Characters

They often say that sports build character and they often say that sports reveals character.

The funny thing is that sports is full of characters.  Chalk full of imbeciles, ignoramuses, and assholes; people who ultimately just don't get it.  Bad things are never their fault, gotta get theirs, pass the buck, point the finger.  It's vile from little league to Lambeau. 

That's why my new favorite coach is Chris Petersen, the fearless leader of the blue machine from Boise.

When his senior--Groza Award semi-finalist, all-time-scoring-leader-in-school-history, hometown hero--Kyle Brotzman missed not one, but two multi-million dollar, BCS clinching, sub-30-yard, game-winning field goals, Petersen said there was plenty of blame to go around, himself included.

But that's not why he's my favorite.

What catapulted Petersen atop my favorite leaders list was the reaction of his team.

Kellen Moore, the team leader, pro-prospect, Heisman candidate, All-American quarterback said, "We love him to death, he's one of our boys, he's part of this family."  Didn't he realize they just lost whatever hope they had to play for a National Championship?  Didn't matter.  He stood in front of the cameras and had his boy's back. 

While there was big money on the line and championships at stake, Petersen kept perspective around his team.  He reminded them that no one Bronco was bigger - or smaller - than any other Bronco.  Perhaps that is all character is?  A little perspective and a lot of respect. 

Ultimately, mistakes and successes have very little to do with character.  Character isn't built in the mano-a-mano moments.  It's built in the hours upon hours when there are no cameras or reporters.  It's built at 5am weights, two-a-days, and extra batting practice.  Hell, it's built at study hall.  It's built when you fail and pick yourself back up again and when you win and keep the axe to the grindstone.

The mano-a-mano moment is just that, a moment.  What did you do before and - far more importantly - what did you do after?  That's character revealed.

So when Brotzman missed, and then again, Petersen didn't scream "what went wrong?" and Brotzman didn't throw his helmet and sprint off the field.  Petersen didn't later tell the media he should have stuck with his gut and gone for two.

And in those moments we learned exactly why the Boise State Broncos are successful.  That's character revealed.

That night, Chris Petersen and the Boise State Broncos lost to the University of Nevada Wolfpack in a Western Athletic Conference football game.  They gained a whole lot more.


  1. Aww... What a nice commentary. But you know what? Fuck the Broncos! (Sorry, I went to Idaho. And I don't have much in the way of the sportsmanship/character that you are describing here.)