Baseball is a game of numbers, and every action in the sport is measured and analyzed. One statistic in baseball that I find incredibly telling is called WAR or Wins Above Replacement. WAR “summarizes a player’s total contribution to the team in one statistic [using multiple metrics].” In other words, this statistic attempts to measure “how much better a player is than a player that would typically be available as a replacement.” If you have a WAR rating of (4.1), for example, that means your team has won roughly four more games than would have been expected with an average replacement player. This statistic effectively measures the positive or negative impact your presence has on your team’s winning or losing.
In the game of ice hockey, The National Hockey League uses a similar statistic called Plus-Minus (a bit easier to grasp than WAR). This category tracks how many goals you are on the ice for, and then assigns you a plus (+) or minus (-) rating. In a given game, if you are on the ice for five goals and three are for your team and two are for the other, you would be assigned a (+1) for that game. This statistic is cumulative and tracked for the season. In effect, it measures the positive or negative impact your presence in the game has on your team.
Imagine if we had metrics to track a person’s overall positive impact—in a company, in a household, in a group of friends, or in a classroom—and then charted that over the course of years. What would those numbers tell us about that person?
As we work with young people and help them develop our school’s core values of courage, integrity, respect, compassion, and excellence, we must encourage students to make sound decisions over the course of time. We all experience ups and downs in life, but all healthy, successful people exhibit the fortitude and resilience necessary to ‘do good’ on a regular basis.
Writing thank you notes, holding doors, picking up random litter, texting your mother heart-shaped Emojis, and reaching out to somebody who appears lonely are all examples of things kids can do to tip that ever-important Plus-Minus scale in the plus direction. At Gill St. Bernard’s, our mission and values light the way, providing concepts for our students to shape their lives around.
In a world that seems to be increasing in complexity, as parents and educators it’s our responsibility to educate young people to be champions of goodness, to lead winning lives. We can help them see their value in the world, and let them know their actions do indeed make a difference. Acts of kindness and positivity aren’t tracked, as in professional sports, but in the aggregate allow our humanity to shine through.
I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
- Recommended 14 and older (some violent scenes and sexual content). An incredible story of how one person is called to make a difference in the lives of many.
Markus Zusak is also the author of The Book Thief, possibly the greatest and most powerful book ever written about the WWII era…