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Do Team Sports Instill Valuable Principles? Forum Discussion Offers Insights

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It's a question often asked -- how much residual value is there in being part of a team? And how much does what happens on the field or the court relate to the business world?

Those were a few of the questions participants at a special forum on integrity in school sports debated Thursday at the University of St. Thomas.

"The thing that I'm excited to hear about is the tension," said Michelle Rovang, director of the Veritas Institute. "Do companies and businesses have the same view of winning at all costs?"

Tommy Kurvers played high school hockey at Bloomington Jefferson, and later won the Hoby Baker in college before a career playing in the NHL. He's now in management with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He says he knows for certain that athletes can gain quite a bit of integrity playing sports.

"I think you learn things in sports from the very first team you play on, that you apply for the rest of your life," he said. "In life settings, in business settings, in social settings, you learn how to overcome obstacles, you learn how to pull a team together, you learn how to work with others."

Kurvers was one of the representatives at Thursday's meeting, along with representatives from area major league teams and colleges. Together, they delved into the philosophies applicable to both sports and business, and in which settings you learn which values.

"We need to have revenue. We need to win," Rovang said. "We have to get people in the seats, but can we do that? And can we do that with our head held high?"

But will participating at the high school level make you a person with more integrity at the corporate level?

"There have been a couple studies," St. Thomas professor John Wendt said. "Athletes that really care, that have good values, will succeed in business. They've got all sorts of studies saying that."

The purpose of the gathering was to further thoughts on how better to instill those values in today's young athletes, ready for the real world. The takeaway: Maintaining integrity and winning is a complicated and difficult task, but if you participate in team sports in youth, you'll have a better chance.

"You're around people that care -- that's the starting point," Kurvers said. "So you get a good mentor, you get a good coach, you get a good manager -- whatever the sport may be -- you get interaction one-on-one, you get interaction with a group, and all those things apply to everything you do."

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