No. 733



We have a fine young man who has come to our community as the head football coach of our public high school. His name is Clint Ashcraft, originally from Watson Chapel, Ark. Soon after he arrived, I was program chair for our local Lions Club and I invited Coach Ashcraft to speak to our club. We were all impressed with him and what he had to say about his coaching philosophy and the importance of character development in the lives of his players. We have a winning tradition in our community, on most anything you care to name, but our high school football team has been down the past few years. It will take a little time, but I have every confidence that Coach Ashcraft is a winner and his players will develop his winning attitude each time they take the field. In time, this will show up on his record.
What I have shared is a little background information that will help you have an even greater appreciation for Coach Ashcraft and the road he will be traveling in the months and years to come. During his talk, he stressed a principle that we all need to know and understand, or at least be reminded of, if we are to succeed over the long haul. He said, “What you tolerate, you encourage.” While he was making the statement in reference to his team, this is a principle that affects all of life, in our relationships and dealing with other people.
There are many examples I could use here to demonstrate this principle and how it works. Since I am talking athletics, let me stick with this for a moment. I might add, if a coach does not understand this principle and how it works, they are going to be mediocre at best. For example, take the star player who is late for practice not just once but several times during the course of the season. If the coach tolerates this kind of behavior, a powerful message is sent to the rest of his players. What the coach is tolerating, he is actually encouraging, and it hurts the morale of the whole team, and will later get him fired.
In today’s times, college athletics has become big money, for the schools now and the players later, if they can make it to the next level, as they say. One of the big concerns for most college coaches is what happens “off the field” and how it impacts not only the coach and his staff, but the whole team as well. We have had several cases at our state university where players have been involved in sexual assault, DWI and any number of other offences where law enforcement have been involved. In many cases, these have been “starters” and highly recruited players.
Here is where the rubber meets the road, not just in my state, but every other state in the nation, because it’s a universal principle. The real question becomes, does the coach take positive action, even at the appearance of impropriety, or does he try to gloss it over because he thinks his team’s won/loss record will be negatively impacted? In other words, he becomes more concerned about his job security than doing what is right and, in the long run, in the best interest of the team. Now, I believe in a second chance for players, in most cases, but I also think they have to earn it, for their own sake and the sake of the team.
The coach, business executive, manager or anyone else who assumes the mantle of leadership is way behind the curve if they do not know and understand the principle “What you tolerate, you encourage.” We only get one chance to make a good first impression, and the tone we set, and stick with, will go a long way in determining our success or failure.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)