At today’s Varsity Sports Award ceremony at my daughters’ high school, I was heartened to see the next generation of leaders and reassured that, at least in a small corner of England, affirmative life lessons are being taught and learned.

This is a sports program that is about more than simply winning.  It is a program that exudes class and sportsmanship in the very best sense.

Team captain after team captain got up and spoke of leadership, gratitude, and the importance of team.  To quote one young man, “What matters most is the chemistry we built as a team and not the medals and awards that we may have won.  Years from now, when these are packed in boxes or in places we can’t remember, we will still have our friendships, the camaraderie and our memories of working and playing together.”

Then there were the two teammates who were named to the “All Tournament Team” in their sport and chose to dedicate their award badges to their teammates.  They placed their badges onto a plaque on which the name of every teammate was inscribed, which will go in the school’s trophy case.  In their minds, it was the whole team that deserved the honor, not just two individual performers.

Finally, there was the team that never gives an MVP award because the team ethos is so strong that making such a distinction seems artificial.  Some may call it an excuse to avoid singling anyone out, but when I saw them standing as brothers on the stage, it was clear that this is no gimmick, but rather the way that this group of players think.

In a world of individual achievement and competition, it is refreshing and reassuring to see that teamwork, fair play and positive role models can be plentiful.  Well done to all.