For centuries, people of faith have longed tried to pinpoint the exact age when an individual becomes accountable for their own life and their behavior. Scholars tell us that the Christian Bible does not pinpoint an exact age, though some religions designate the age of 13. It is obvious that this discussion will go on for years to come.
Parents eagerly await the day when their children become accountable. Certainly teachers and coaches' lives are made incrementally better when the young people they teach and coach reach that magic age. The bad news is that the age of accountability may vary with the individual.
The definition of accountability: the quality or state of being accountable; especially, an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.
Developing a work ethic and adopting a value system are two of the most important actions that will assure an individual develops to their full position and becomes a
responsible person. This particular social issue has been magnified by the fatherless home. Seeing and experiencing a lack of accountability in the adults has a profound effect on children as they grow. The teacher/coach is obligated to find ways to teach personal responsibility in a way to have a transforming effect on those they teach and coach.
Terry Gambill, head football coach at Midway (TX) High School has instituted a program he calls "Question Mark T-Shirts." The use of t-shirts that send a message has been extremely effective for his program. In a few short years, he has taken Midway High School to consistently compete at the highest level. A plain, simple, gray t-shirt with a big question mark on it sends the right message.
Question Mark T-Shirts
Midway (Texas) High School
We give out T-shirts in our off-season program. There are three different types of t-shirts. The first shirt is a plain, simple gray t-shirt with a question mark on it. Everybody
gets one of these to begin with. I ask the players, "What is the question mark?" and they respond by saying, "I don't know." That is it exactly; the question mark signifies that the person inside that shirt has a question to answer. That question is, "Will I become an accountable, consistently eligible, and positively motivated member of my team?"
The player gets out of the question mark t-shirt and will move into either a red or blue t-shirt with a white "M" on it. Each student-athlete is accountable for their academic progress and eligibility. If a player makes an A, B or C in their classes, but misses a class or has a tardy during the week, they will be in a red shirt. However, to gain blue shirt status, their accountability is held to a maximum. The must achieve nothing below a C, with no absences, excused or unexcused, and no tardiness for the entire week.
This is an incentive for the players to take care of their responsibilities and to grow as young people. This amounts to accountability. No one likes to wear a shirt that has a question mark on it, so they are all heavily motivated to end up with that red shirt.
At Midway High School, we have had principals, teachers, and individuals from the community tell us, "Coach, you just don't know how these players dislike having a questions mark hanging over their head." It is a badge for everyone in the school to see when you wear the red jersey and everyone knows you have been accountable for your grades and your attendance. This teaches young people that they have a responsibility to be accountable in all areas of their life.
When an individual becomes accountable, their life changes forever.