Valvano--Nobody Is Bigger Than The Game

Roy Firestone about Jim Valavano: I talked to Jim about the game, just the game, and about the fact that so many of these guys who had come along were now—because of their celebrity—known on a first name basis, Sir Charles, Shack, Michael.

Jim said, “no one is bigger than the game. The game is what it’s all about. And I’m in awe of it. We won a championship, right? But there’s still not a gym that I walk into that I don’t want to walk over and take a shot. Gotta take a J. And I have a pretty good J by the way. I love the game. The biggest thrill at NC State before the first game of the year, down by the locker room when I give my Knute Rockne speech, which I call number 52. I tell the kids it’s for me. People say be calm. But I tell them I work 365 days a year for thirty 30 years for this and people say be calm. How could I be calm? This is it for me, babe. I’m down there and I give a hell of a talk, I dive on the floor, the kids go up and I hear the band play the fight song and then just before tip off, I go out there and I look at 12,000 people, the cheerleaders are doing back flips, the kids are swinging, and I’m in heaven and that’s what it’s all about, The moment, the atmosphere surrounding the game. Nobody’s bigger than that. I could leave tomorrow and someone else stand in that locker room. But I still would feel privileged to be a part of the sport and that moment.”
--V & Me: Everybody’s favorite Jim Valvano’s Story by Bob Cairns 

The Listening Ladder

Try including each rung of the listening ladder to improve your listening skills: 

L: Look at the person speaking to you
A: Ask questions
D: Don’t interrupt
D: Don’t change the subject
E: Empathize
R: Respond verbally and nonverbally.

"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk."
 --Doug Larson


Try The Following Tests To Help Ensure Ethical Decision Making

  1. Law Test: This test asks whether lawbreaking is involved. If the answer is a clear yes then the issue becomes your willingness to adhere to the law. Often, however, the answer is less clear. Two laws may be in conflict. There may be a question of which applies to a particular case. If the law is clear and it is also clear one or more alternatives would involve breaking the law, then such action must be eradicated immediately.

  2. Front Page Test: How would you feel if what you are about to do showed up on the front page of your local paper tomorrow morning? If the headlines would make you uncomfortable then following through on this action would be a bad decision.

  3. Mom Test: The idea here is for your “mom” to represent any person of high moral character.  Always work as though your name is on the side of the building and always behave as though your mother is in the room.

  4. Gut Test: Morally incorrect choices often give you that queasy feeling in your gut. We have all heard to “trust your gut instinct”. We all would be better served if we learned to follow this basic rule.

  5. Golden Rule Test: It asks you to test your actions by putting yourself in another’s shoes and consider how you would feel if you were the recipient, rather that the perpetrator of your actions. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” A good rule for life and business.

  6. Greatest Good Test: “Do whatever produces the greatest good for the greatest number.” Also known as the utilitarian principle. Ask yourself who will get hurt and who will be helped and by how much.

  7.  Rule Test: If your action were to become a rule for all to follow would it be a good rule? 

—Adapted from Steve Hallam’s Ethics in Leadership University of Akron



  • All research supports the belief that a coach’s expectations will influence his treatment of individual athletes. His behavior toward the individual will often differ according to his evaluation of the athletes ability.
  • The coach’s manner of treatment for each athlete will affect the athlete’s performance, his ability to learn, and his rate of learning.
  • The coach’s different manner of communicating with athletes of differing ability will indicate to them his view of their competence. The indication will affect the athlete’s self-concept, motivation, and self-trust, which will all impact on performance. The result will be that the athletes who are evaluated to be superior and communicated with accordingly will behave and perform in such a way as to reinforce the coach’s positive expectation.
  • The same will be true of those who are thought to be inferior performers and for whom the coach has limited or negative expectations.
  • The greatest can rise above the limited expectations of their teachers and coaches. But they are, by far, the exceptions to the rule. And if you are considering the use of “you ain’t nothing” as a provocative motivational challenge, first recall the goose and the gander tale, so as to be reminded that what might make one athlete might just as easily break another.

--Adapted from Coaching the Mental Game by H.A. Dorfman