The United States can be a progressive society without abandoning "character, commitment and integrity," says former high school football coach Bill Courtney, subject of the Oscar-winning 2011 documentary "Undefeated.”
Courtney, who coached the underdog Manassas High School team in Memphis, Tenn., and whose book "Against the Grain: A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family, and Love,”
is due out in May, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that no matter how chaotic the environment was for children at his school, his mission remained the same.
"You teach character, you teach commitment, you teach civility, you teach respect, you teach honor, and you identify the importance of legacy and define what legacy means," he said Tuesday.
"You explain that undefeated has nothing to do with wins and losses, it's about not being defeated by your circumstances . . . When you have an army of kids who have those tenets, the football comes easy."
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Courtney said that although the Tennessee high school where he coached for six years was "downtrodden," the "human spirit still exists in these kids."
"If you teach them the stuff that your grandmother taught you and you hold them accountable and you love them, not because of, but in spite of, they have a chance to be successful – and they were," he said.
Courtney said his book is not about his success and fame, but about how those who have character and integrity can improve their lives.
"We can be a progressive, forward-thinking, inclusive society without abandoning the principles that got us here in the first place," he said. "Character, commitment, integrity, all of those old-school principles that somehow have become counter to our pop culture matter."
He said that although you may not be able to fix broken homes, you can help avoid them.
"I understand the inherent sadness that comes with the breakup of family," he said. "It is an epidemic that has to be fixed. It's not going to be fixed because you and I say, 'We've got to stay married.’ It's going to be fixed because we teach children these tenets and . . . then they grow up and have happy marriages, and that's how you break the cycle."
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