There’s a lot of talk these days among teams and organizations about the power of a championship culture. This week, head coach Jay Wright and the Villanova men’s basketball team capped off an impressive run through the NCAA tournament, captured the program's second national championship in three years, and validated once again that a championship culture is hard to beat. Analyst Jay Bilas said Wright’s team “has developed the best culture, on and off the floor, in college basketball. That’s not to say other programs don’t have great cultures, because they do. But Villanova’s is the best.” Villanova is who emerged as champions this week, and their culture is a big reason why.

A successful program with a championship culture like Villanova doesn’t recruit just anybody, even if they possess elite athletic ability. That alone isn't enough; their standards are higher. Great players also have to embody the character and make-up that bring Villanova’s championship culture to life. They want players who know how to give their very best effort. Players who love the game and love their teammates. Players who want to want to get better, who’re capable of getting coached, who are resilient and selfless. Those are the guys who fit in at Villanova. Need proof? Check out this clip from the Final Four. It’s a championship culture personified.


That’s All-American Jalen Brunson diving after that loose ball (with his team up nearly twenty points), and his four teammates hustling to help him up afterwards. This is higher level effort and dedication and togetherness. You can tell it isn’t some phony act they’ve conjured up on the spot, here in the biggest game of their lives. Look at ‘em. This is just who they are. This is Villanova basketball. They’re the ones who win, and plays like this are a big reason why.

In a culture like this, the lazy, selfish, entitled, negative player doesn’t fit. Jay Wright doesn’t recruit that kind of player – regardless of his basketball ability. Even if he did, that player would be miserable at Villanova, with all these guys around him giving their all and playing for each other. He’d probably leave on his own for a culture that suits him better, a place where he fits in. Those cultures exist, too, of course. They’re the ones who usually find a way to underachieve. Who consistently have an excuse for what goes wrong. Who fall apart when things get tough, and who focus more on looking out for themselves than for each other. These are the teams that just can’t seem to beat the Villanova's of the world. It's not really that hard to see why.

So what does all this mean for you, working to develop a champion of your own today? It means you better see that athletic ability alone doesn't define who an athlete is or why he's successful. It means you have a responsibility, if you’re serious about helping your child open the doors to his full potential, to develop the kind of character and make-up that can bring a championship culture to life. He’s got to know how to give his very best effort. He’s got to love the game and love his teammates. He’s got to want to get better, be able to get coached, be resilient and selfless. He’s got to understand, in real competition, who wins and why. 


Developing these qualities in your young athlete doesn’t happen by accident. They’re the by-product of your daily commitment to encouraging, teaching, supporting, and developing. They’re the fruits of your labor as a champion sports parent – the result of life lived in a championship culture of your own, an environment where your standards are high and your perspective is clear.

It’s worth considering today what kind of culture you’re preparing your child to fit into. Does he embody the character and make-up that can bring a championship culture to life, or will he feel out of place in an environment like that? It’s a great question for his future in sports, but it’s also important for his life beyond the game. Sports may be important to him now, but he’ll be spending the majority of his adult life working as a professional, and you’ll want him to be a champion there, too.

The boss in a championship organization will be looking for employees who fit in a high level environment. Employees who know how to give their very best effort. Employees who love their job and love their co-workers. Who want to get better, who’re capable of getting coached, who are resilient and selfless. I hope you’ll see that the hard work you’re doing today can change who your young athlete becomes forever – on the playing fieldand beyond. So do the work. Then he’ll be the one who wins, and you’ll be a big reason why.


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