Published 12:00 am Monday, November 8, 1999

Harold Keller / L’Observateur / November 8, 1999

This past Wednesday. I spoke at the Lutcher Elementary School. I wasasked to speak about character.

Does character really count in today’s society? Yes, character is as important today as it ever was. The problem is that most people don’tthink so.

Character can be described as good moral qualities. I’ve heard people saythat character is what you are when you’re alone. The description that Ilike the most is: Character is how you are in God’s eyes. Is your characterChrist-like? On the news yesterday, the newscaster led off with this statement: “LSU scandal surges with bribery arrest.” This is just the latest of manybrushes with the law by LSU football players. Could the reason be thatwhen recruiting a good athlete, their time in the 40-yard dash, or what they can bench-press, is much more important than their character? It’s easy to question character when someone is caught on a team that is on a losing streak. When a team is winning, we overlook character.A few years ago, I heard a coach say, “Let someone else build character. Ijust want to win.” Can a team of players with good character win intoday’s world? The answer is yes. Character wins, regardless of the score.One of my favorite coaches of all time was Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys. When asked what part character played when drafting a player,his answer was, “The main ingredient we look for is character.” CoachLandry was asked, “What if a good athlete has questionable character?” “That makes the decision easy,” was Landry’s reply. “We don’t draft him.”Coach Landry continued, “Sometimes, one of our players would get involved with drugs. Their character leaves. They’re finished. It’s just amatter of time.” Tom Landry had character, chose players with character,and was a winner on and off the field.

Times have changed. A sign of the times was evident to me a few weeksago when a parent of a football player on a losing team was commenting on the behavior of the coach. “He treats the kids rough, he belittles them,and curses at them,” he said. The conversation ended shortly when I asked,”If the team was winning, would you or anyone else care how the coach behaves?” As I write this article, I think back at the young children at Lutcher Elementary. What type of character will they have? It’s frightening tothink of the influence today’s society will have on those young, innocent hearts.

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