Montana Ethic Project: The value of athletics


Joey and Libbie Early

Mike Gear: “The Value of Athletics.”

This is the second chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Mike Gear, a nine-time state champion football coach, speaking on “The Value of Athletics.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it opens:

“I’ve been a teacher and coach for over 38 years now. In fact I’ve coached middle school athletics, high school athletics, been an assistant head coach, and for the last 34 years I’ve been a head football coach and even a sports official. So between playing and coaching sports, it’s been a significant part of my life for close to 50 years.

“I hope to really accomplish two things today. First everyone, not just the stars or the elite players on an athletic team, can develop attributes that will benefit them for the rest of their life. And second, to encourage parents to understand the fine line between supporting their athlete and overstepping their bounds.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Gear’s presentation: 

“Be sure that your athlete is participating for all the right reasons. Be sure that he or she is not participating because of someone else’s motivation. Remember they aren’t you. They are not the same individual. They are not playing on the same team that you played on in the past. So be sure, do not let your wants and desires overshadow their choices.

“Also encourage them to participate, but don’t force them, don’t pressure them.

“Talk to them about why they want to participate, how they would feel about being in those different roles if they can’t be the starter, if they are that other player on the team. And I know that coaches talk to their teams and to their players all the time about their roles, and be sure that they’re playing with the idea that as a role player they can contribute to the team. They can come away with some very positive things.

“Always provide reinforcement that is positive for their participation. Avoid the critical remarks about their teammates, about officials, about the other coaches and players. Keep your focus on every positive thing that they do, and don’t worry so much about the outcome of the game.

“Here is where it really gets hard for you: allow them to suffer some frustration and adversity without making it something bigger than it is, without immediately demanding somebody else make it right.”


PERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife, visit


First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Next week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”


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