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Winning At All Costs: A Discussion on Foundational Values On & Off The Field

At Youth Entrepreneurs, our Foundational Values not only guide behavior, they are central to our curriculum and significant in helping our students grow. We explore real-world examples of Foundational Values in everyday practice and provide a catalyst for discussion which allows students to further engage and seize opportunities for good.

Today we look at the Netflix series Last Chance U in an effort to identify, relate and expand on the application of YE’s Foundational Values.

Is “winning at all costs” considered a victory? It’s an interesting question, one every future entrepreneur should reflect on. What does it mean to win at all costs? To sacrifice? To work hard? To give something your all? In the business world, as well as the academic, those questions seem like the perfect set-up for success. But what happens when winning at all costs asks us to compromise on the values and principles we know we need in order to be successful? 

Is it still considered a win?  

Over the course of three seasons, viewers get a first-hand, documentary-style look at a community college football program. The series brings viewers up close and personal with the trials and tribulations of several young men, many of whom have not been dealt the best hand in life. Through their struggles at home and in school, they perform a balancing act between being college students and athletes and wondering what comes next. 

In the third season of the show, set at Independence Community College in southeastern Kansas, head coach Jason Brown hopes to lead his team to victory, something the school is certainly not known for in its current conference. But it comes at a price. 

Through his relentless pursuit of a championship, the idea of “win at all costs” comes clearly into focus and presents a unique opportunity for class discussion. Viewers often see Coach Brown on profanity-laced tirades. In many instances throughout the season, he and his team demonstrate an unpreparedness, they are undisciplined and unfocused and it’s unclear if they’ll achieve the success they are seeking. 

The young men are first and foremost college students, and though the coach takes interest in his player’s schoolwork, personally checking in on their grades and class attendance, his primary focus remains on the game. The players are less interested in success in the classroom and focused instead on becoming professional athletes one day. 

How can YE students use these examples to formulate a discussion on Foundational Values? 

Using the recent season of Last Chance U, ask students to provide their thoughts on where this team is headed, where Foundational Values are missing and what opportunities they see in their own lives where winning at all costs may challenge them to compromise on the values and principles they are learning through YE. 

Discussion Questions: 

Be Principled

Is there anyone on the team who demonstrates a strong sense of being principled? Provide examples. Who is lacking in this value? 

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Responsibility

What responsibility do the players have to their schoolwork, their teammates and their coach? Where do we see a lack of responsibility on behalf of the coaching staff? Where can each group improve? 

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Sound Judgement  

Does Coach Brown use sound judgment when addressing the academic struggles of his students? What about when addressing their game performance? 

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Win-Win Focus 

Is there a difference between accomplishing a goal and winning at all costs? How does win-win focus challenge us to succeed without compromising the values of YE ? 

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