Boys need to belong to a group that provides a greater purpose for who they are and who they are becoming. A common offshoot of this desire is to join a sports team. Many young men identify with being an athlete; hence, cuts from sports team are difficult and can lead to an identity crisis for some. “If I did not make the team, then I am no longer an athlete. Who am I?” (More on this identity crisis in another post.)
Boys need a connection to something bigger than themselves, and school is a great place for young men to make this connection. Schools have a mission, and that mission provides a purpose for young men. Schools promote positive character traits and enforce proper behavior. Boys accept and respect this discipline when they understand why certain behaviors are acceptable and other behaviors are not. In a student’s mind, who we are as a school (school identity), dictates how he should behave. At our school, students identify with the term “Christian Gentlemen.” Their behavior, on most occasions, aligns with the way in which we define that phrase. “Christian Gentlemen” calls young men to a greater purpose. Each student is a part of something bigger than himself.
More specifically, the need for association is why sports can play such a vital role in schools. An all-boys school, or any school for that matter, should not shy away from the positive impact sports can have on the community. Administrators and faculty, I urge you to utilize athletics as a means to bring your community together. Embrace it. Have special events. Allow athletics to be a public expression of the greater purpose that your school provides for students. Your students need that. Your students need to see evidence that the school is a community of members who support each other’s accomplishments and work every day to forward an important mission. This will pay dividends in the classroom as well. Students who feel connected to their school, either as athletes or as fans, will do better academically. Sports is not the only avenue to create meaningful connections, but it is a good place to find ready opportunities to provide a greater purpose for our students.