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Some examples of how not to lead by example

October 18, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

Examples are usually handy things.

You can set them, create them and follow them.

Examples become tricky, though, when someone chooses to lead by one.

Somewhere along the way, we - as a society - have forgotten that leadership examples are the most powerful thing we own to help shape the future.

In sports, they are the basis and foundation to teach young players the unspoken dos and don'ts of playing the game. In most cases, the rules are self-explanatory. It's how they are interpreted, applied and followed which end up speaking volumes about an athlete.

It's amazing how many teams and franchises make a tradition of winning and losing just by the way coaches and veteran players approach a season.

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If you act like a winner and take care of the little things, you will be a winner. But conversely, act like a loser and teams seem to have a perpetual black cloud following them wherever they go. Young players on winning teams tend to understand what's needed to be successful while members of struggling teams can only guess.

And in many cases, it's one player or one coach who becomes the lynchpin of the season - win or lose.

Mouthy fans and overemotional coaches who speak before they think can become indelible ink on a young player's development. That's a powerful example to consider.

In other cases, those bad examples are in plain view. Our professional athletes - including those who don't believe that they have a responsibility to mold the future - easily undo the good work of so many with a split-second of stupidity.

Unfortunately, the examples have been many of late.

- Sportsmanship: Many believe that sports are the best vehicle for teaching discipline and honor.

Someone tap the Baltimore Ravens on the shoulder and smack them with a sledgehammer to get their attention.

The Ravens turned a loss to Detroit on Oct. 9 into a magic festival. The officiating crew was pulling more yellow hankies out of its sleeves than David Copperfield. There were 21 penalties, two ejections and enough bad attitude to not only lose the game, but embarrass an entire organization.

The NFL and Baltimore's front office let the coaches and players off too easy.

- Undisciplined and selfish motives: The ongoing saga of LaVar Arrington and the Washington Redskins is a classic example of me over we.

Arrington is grousing because of his lack of playing time after healing from an injury. The Redskins defense is functioning pretty well without him.

Yet, because he was the second overall player taken in the draft, Arrington is living off his reputation rather than his accomplishments.

When Arrington plays in the framework of a system, he is dynamic. When he tries to prove he's bigger and better than the system, he's a spectator.

It's tough to set an example if you are standing on the sideline.

- Keep the change: The Baltimore Orioles continue to hope their fans will follow them blindly.

Instead of building a winning team, the Orioles continue to cling to an idea that was the cornerstone of the franchise 35 years ago.

It's the Oriole Way. It is a good system, if you have the players who will believe in it.

The Orioles continue to bring back old heroes, making them coaches and front office officials, hoping the aura they had when they were playing will rub off on today's team.

It takes the right players to make that system work. The Oriole Way was built on teamwork, unselfish play and individual sacrifice. It relied on strong pitching and focused hitting.

Those are all things that have been lacking in the teams of today. Players don't want to play 2-1 games where defense shines. Home runs are remembered longer than sacrifice bunts.

And instead of looking for the components to rebuild that high standard they once carried, the Orioles try to use nostalgia to keep fans interested.

Someday, those fans who remember those days will be gone, taking the tolerance for a consistently losing team with them.

Unfortunately, the best examples aren't always the most positive ones.

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