Did the Media Miss a Leadership Message in the Super Bowl?

Prior to sharing some personal feelings about this year’s annual pigskin extravaganza, I want to request that you not jump to conclusions upon reading my remarks. Keep in mind that you lack the benefit of viewing my facial expression, hearing my tone of voice, or noting my body language as you read. You have only my words to use in forming your response to my comments.

For me, this year’s Super Bowl was one of the most notable in a good number of years. However, it had little to do with the game itself.

I’d like to share a few observations on the media coverage of both coaches of this year’s classic. Much was said by many concerning the fact that these two coaches, Tony Dungy of the Colts and Lovie Smith of the Bears, were the first black coaches to achieve this enviable status level. The fact that we observed two coaches actualize this ultimate goal in the same season garnered even more publicity world wide.

Personally, I couldn’t be happier for both gentlemen. They, and all other African Americans, should indeed be elated at this accomplishment and all of the glory it so richly deserves.

However, I wonder if we’re missing a very vital lesson here. Neither coach achieved championship status because they were African Americans.

They certainly didn’t earn the respect of their players, fans, or the world’s media based on their race.

Their obvious mutual respect was hard-earned and long in the making.

Personally, I was tremendously impressed by the leadership skills, integrity, and pure unmitigated CLASS I saw demonstrated by both men.

They spoke with great respect for one another’s achievements, beliefs and values. They spoke highly of each other’s teams.

They weren’t criticized by a single member of the radio, television, or print media after both gridiron generals gave conspicuous thanks to their “God” for their many blessings and achievements. Ordinarily, the media wolves would have devoured both men in the public square at the break of dawn for making such obvious politically incorrect statements. Yet, not a word from anyone. That was so very telling of the respect both men have earned from old friends and new fans alike.

After the game ended, many players spoke nothing but respectful words about the performance and leadership of both Tony and Lovie.

I heard one commentator point out the fact that both coaches never raised their voices during practice sessions or in actual game situations. Neither needed to do so. They always have the full respect and attention of their teams.

I couldn’t help but notice that they appeared together in several public service announcements during the day supporting such organizations as Big Brothers and Big Sisters to name just a few.

They were a class act from start to finish on this special day and one can only assume that both conduct themselves exactly like that every day.

Like any championship event, one of those proud and accomplished warriors was destined to walk off that field at the end of the game deemed as a “loser” while the other was carried off on the shoulders of his team being hailed as the “winner.” That’s the nature of the game. Always has been and always will be.

However, in the eyes and hearts of millions of world-wide fans on this particularly unique Super Bowl Sunday, I think Tony and Lovie both left that field of battle as WINNERS … having earned the highest respect of anyone who loves the game of football.

They were both great leaders in front of the entire world during this game, which provided them both with memories they will never forget.

They certainly served as excellent examples for not only the many young people who so dearly need such role models today but for potential and existing leaders in every field of endeavor all around the globe.

The final outcome of the game — exciting but secondary. The greater reward for fans, of course, was the privilege of witnessing a historic game, which will be discussed for years to come.

Both gentlemen entered an “unofficial” Hall of Fame after spending an entire evening demonstrating great leadership on the field of battle. If only we could boast such leadership role models on the world’s stage of business and politics today! We might all sleep a little better every night.

Good guys can and do finish first. Don’t mistake soft-spoken leaders for post-season push-overs. Both have spent a grueling season proving they can compete with the best, overcome adversity, rise above criticism, and endure brilliantly to become Division Champions and move on to compete in the most prestigious competition in the game.

For those who are tempted to say, “Yeah, they’re both nice guys, but … ” remember they made it to the Super Bowl! Maybe this year’s game should be renamed “The Good Guys Bowl.”

Congratulations, deep appreciation, and continued success to both Tony and Lovie … they certainly made this particular Bowl Day a SUPER one for me, and I’m sure we’re going to see much more of both of them! I think I’ll always remember this particular game as the “Leadership Bowl”!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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