The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat: Cassidy Lichtman’s “P/ATH” and Sport as a Good Thing

I had the fortune to grow up in the 1970s. (To be more truthful, “fortune” is an empty term. Most all of us idolize our childhoods and hold them as a marker for how others should grow up.) And on Saturdays, on ABC, around 3PM in the afternoon, I was able to tune into ABC’s Wide World of Sports and capture a bit of “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” from different sports around the world.

What drew me to this show every Saturday afternoon was the constant “variety of sports” it showcased and the drama of human athletic performance. While I was only ever a soccer player from 5 years old, I enjoyed the competition inherent in all athletics and often dreamt myself a Major League Pitcher, a brick wall of a hockey goaltender, or a wickedly fast table-tennis player.

But I also came for the camaraderie of team sports, for the sportsmanship, for the way competition built character, persistence, and, I suppose, just good human beings. While it was not always this way–arrogance was often on display and poor sportsmanship was clear in numerous occasions–I knew enough to criticize the bad sports and amplify the good sports.

While ABC’s Wide World of Sports closed its doors in 1998 and bowed to the accession of cable news programs, It lived on through its iconic opening and the unforgettable phrasings and delivery of McKay’s “Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat.”

But sports didn’t die with ABC WWS. As a the second edition of this Do Good Things Newsletter clearly points out, the character-building qualities of amateur and professional sports are in tact, though, at least at the professional level, they are seemingly a rarer occurrence.

Which brings me to today’s “Good Thing”: P/ATH–Progress through Athletics. A small organization with deep roots and connections in the world of professional and amateur sports, P/ATH’s sees itself this way:

“Our potential lives in both the athlete and the person.

We are a home for the athletes and coaches who want to train both. 

Who want to become better teammates, better leaders and better humans.”

P/ATH was founded by Cassidy Lichtman, a former member of the USA Volleyball Women’s National Team. She was a two-time All-American and an Academic All-American at Stanford before joining Team USA and playing professionally around the world.

Their method is simple, use the draw and experience of professional athletes from around the world to teach lessons about sportsmanship, service, teamwork, etc.

Videos on these aspects of participation in sports are the cornerstone for the teaching. (see image above.). In just over 10 minutes a week, coaches of school and local league teams can expose their players to such topics as “how to build mindset skills, what goes into great team cultures, how to break out of the boxes we get put in and how the most valuable life lessons  we learn in sports can transfer off the field.”

What P/ATH does so well is recognize the humanizing forces of participation in sports and build, out of that immediate draw, a platform for using sport to grow human character in something more than a haphazard way.

If you are a coach or know a coach, I urge you to send them to P/ATH’s website and check out just how easy it can be to build team culture and communication through a patterned, high-quality library of videos.

Sport is an inherently good thing. Of this I have no doubt. But with P/ATH, sport becomes a much more powerful vehicle for purpose-driven learning and doing good things in the world.

As a startup run largely out of her own pocket, P/ATH is reliant on the good will and good nature of those who believe in its mission. If you do, please consider donating to the good work of P/ATH by clicking here:

Published by Garreth Heidt

Designerly Minded High School Humanities and Liberal Studies Teacher Faculty Mentor FIRST Robotics Team #7414--PV Retrobotics. Constantly learning, trying to be more a maker and less a consumer of culture. I believe in the infinite value of a liberal education and the power of design thinking to help make the world a better place.

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