TU Speaks to Character
Integrity: what you do when no one else is looking
The world of competition tends to bring out the best—and the worst in people. This is true in any competitive activity, including baton twirling. We can all relate moving stories of competitors who have demonstrated the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship. But what gives a person “integrity”?
There is a slight difference between “honesty” and “integrity”. For twirlers, an obvious example of honesty is keeping accurate records of first-place wins. However, integrity goes a step beyond. It is possible to follow the “letter of the law” and as a Beginner (or Level 3) twirler, legitimately have only 3 or 4 wins. However, if that has been accomplished by ”holding back” and not entering any competitions other than those which carry state, regional or national titles, then truly the “spirit” of the rule has been violated. The twirler is technically being “honest” because she truly hasn’t earned the number of wins required—but she has accomplished that by manipulating the system.
A twirler of integrity doesn’t try to “psych out” a competitor with comments about how difficult their routine is—or jockey for performance position by needing last-second bathroom breaks or having costume or hair “emergencies”.
A teacher of integrity shows consideration for other teachers—and other competitors. He/she builds a program with advertising, performing and word-of-mouth references; not by soliciting students from another teacher. There are many legitimate reasons to change teachers, but a teacher (or a representative) deliberately approaching twirlers and suggesting a change of instructor is an action lacking integrity.
A judge with integrity considers carefully before agreeing to officiate for a division involving competitors with whom they have a relationship. When a teacher works with a corps or team, he/she may not technically be a twirler’s solo teacher, but certainly a personal relationship exists. In the same way— a visiting instructor who has helped choreograph a twirler’s routine, or polish a routine for performance, might not technically be the twirler’s “coach”, but most certainly that instructor would have a difficult time evaluating that twirler objectively as a judge. Integrity would dictate that the judge disqualify themselves from judging that particular division.
A classic example of true integrity was demonstrated at a TU regional competition a few years ago. The tabulator had made an error in transferring places to the pageant master sheet. When copies of the master sheet were handed out, a young girl’s mother immediately brought the error to the attention of the officials and the pageant results were corrected (which, in turn meant that her daughter’s placement went down). Because it was a category with no scores, no one else would have ever known about the error if she hadn’t mentioned it. When complimented on her honesty, the mother said “I just know how my daughter would have felt if she was the one who should have won.” THAT’S integrity: what you do when no one else is looking!
Action Plans for Teachers and Parents By Karen Moretti
This month's action plans start with reflective questions.
1) Does your twirler keep an accurate record of wins? Some twirlers keep a binder to organize all scoresheets so they can accurately keep track of wins for advancement. Others keep a "chart" of 1st place wins in each event. Since twirling levels are self-regulated, this practice definitely helps develop integrity!
2) Does your twirler compete at the appropriate level? While twirlers may "hold back," never competing except for "big" contests may not allow twirlers to really compete at an accurate level. Winning first place is nice - but the goal should be to celebrate advancement as well as awards.
3) Does your twirler spend their practice time REALLY practicing, or is he/she merely spending time in gym?'
4) Does your twirler have a habit of always cheating in their routines? Remind him/her to do his/her personal best every time and praise the effort, rather than the award!
5) Is your twirler or team always ready to compete when it's their turn? Stress that it is important to be ready to take the floor when it's his/her turn! Take care of bathroom breaks, make-up, shoes, etc. before it's time to compete and make any costume changes as brief as possible.
6) Are comments to competitors sportsmanlike? Discourage your twirlers from playing “head games” with competitors (“I’m doing my 5 spin today - how many spins can YOU do?” “I hope you don’t drop in your strut like you did last time.”)
7) Do we model integrity? As teachers and judges we are often setting an example with our words and actions in the gym. As parents, we are setting an example in the gym, the practice area and the locker rooms. Remember: we are always role models. Children are always watching and listening, even when we are not directly teaching twirling!
Integrity is a combination of honesty, courtesy, and respect for your fellow twirlers and teachers. It is doing what’s “right”.
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