By Ken Reed
“Success comes in terms of relationships. Success is measured by the impact you make on other people’s lives. And I think the second criterion is that all of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that’s bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants and desires. Life’s about relationships and having a cause bigger than yourself. Simple as that.”
— Joe Ehrmann, former NFL All-Pro, motivational speaker, and volunteer high school football coach
One of my favorite sports books, Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx, is also a book about coaching, parenting, and character building. The book is built around the coaching style of former Baltimore Colts defensive lineman Joe Ehrmann.
Ehrmann is now a motivational speaker and seminar leader who’s working to change the culture of sports. He is the type of youth sports coach you wish you had as a kid and certainly want for your children.
He truly cares about his players as people first and athletes second. Ehrmann builds strong personal relationships that create an atmosphere of trust, on and off the field. His players know that he’s more interested in building winning human beings than winning teams. They know that for Erhmann, winning on the scoreboard is a worthy goal to strive for but certainly not the end all. (Nevertheless, Ehrmann’s teams are consistent winners when it comes to win-loss records and have won multiple league titles.) Most importantly, however, under Ehrmann, the football field is a classroom where the game of life is taught.
Coaching – especially at the youth and high school levels — is as much about relationship building as it is about sport knowledge and the ability to teach fundamental sport-specific skills.
Ehrmann’s coaching style exemplifies this. He focuses more on building character and teaching sportsmanship than the proverbial X’s and O’s. His coaching goals are to foster relationships, develop other-centered young people, build a football family and maximize each player’s talent.
Ehrmann’s definition of success is noteworthy because it disregards traditional measures of success: money, athletic accomplishments, awards, and material things like houses, cars and clothes. It focuses on what you contribute to the major relationships in your life – husband/wife, father/mother, son/daughter, brother/sister, friend, etc. In the sports realm, it’s about being a good teammate. Ehrmann’s definition also emphasizes giving of yourself to a worthy cause that encompasses more than personal interests.
Joe Ehrmann has been called “the most important coach in America” by Parade magazine.
The more you learn about his coaching philosophy the more difficult it is to argue with that statement.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon