Arlington ISD Tackles “Win at All Costs” Sports Culture

Fans of Lamar High School in Arlington have a saying -- "Viking Fight Never Dies."

They're passionate about sports and aren't shy about expressing their love for their Vikings. New Head Basketball Coach Jarrett Howell can't wait to experience it firsthand.

"I just want to create that intjarretternal pride," said Howell.

Building a winning program will help him do that -- and he hopes there will be plenty of wins during his tenure.

But he stresses that a significant part of his new job will be making sure his players and fans see the team is more than just their record.

"If kids play with a lot of pressure and they feel from their coaches that they have to win or perform well to be loved or feel cared for, then that creates a toxic relationship," said Howell.            

Eliminating that pressure will now be the task of every Arlington ISD coach, as the district rolls out a new character education program this fall for all of its student athletes.

“Sports alone doesn’t build character," said Kevin Ozee, Arlington ISD Athletic Director. "It’s our coaches who actually have to teach and model it.”

A part of each workout period teams have during the school day will be dedicated to activities and discussions that are designed to help them become better teammates, students, and leaders on and off the playing field.

“There is a push – especially in Texas – for high school athletics to be pulled more to the entertainment-based side," said Ozee. "I think we’re trying to take a stand to say we’re an education based program.”

Howell said he's unhappy with the "win at all costs" culture that has taken over sports -- and he's all in on the new program.

"I'm through the roof excited," said Howell. "We want to make sure that the student athletes understand that being a student truly comes before being an athlete."

Because in his experience, winning character tends to result in winning teams.

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