Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Honesty and Coach Corso

My family has a long standing relationship with Indiana University. My parents met at IU. My maternal grandfather earned his law degree at IU. So it was natural that My brother John and I would both attend school there.

As a child, I can remember football weekends spent as a family in Bloomington, Indiana. It was always exciting to see the parking lots around the football stadium fill with fans. With lawn chairs and grills set out, the pre-game festivities would go into full swing. Then there was the actual game. The players, cheerleaders, and the marching band. It was all quite a spectacle.

Dad would buy each of us a hotdog and soft drink for the game. We’d bundle up if the day was cold, begging for hot chocolate after halftime to keep us warm. Dad always gave in on the hot chocolate, even springing for popcorn most times. Great memories indeed.

There was only one problem with attending a football game at IU. The team almost always lost. My alma mater is many things, but “football dynasty” is not one of them. Try as he might, head coach Lee Corso simply could not pull together many victories. So, all of the excitement of attending a college football game would end with less than a bang.

After the game, there would always be a good meal at one of Mom and Dad’s favorite spots in Bloomington. Then perhaps a walk or drive through campus to reminisce about their college days. As the day would wind down, we would settle into our hotel room for a good night’s sleep.

The weekend wasn’t over yet though. On Sunday morning, before check-out time at the hotel, we would gather around the television for the Lee Corso Show. It was coach Corso’s 30-minute recap of the game. The show was always introduced by a local sports reporter with the same exciting words, “It’s time for the Lee Corso Show!”

I’ve never since seen anyone who could make people feel so good about losing a game. Coach Corso’s energy came through the tv screen with all the might of a televangelist! It was as though if all the fans watching would just reach out and touch the tv screen with enough faith, we would believe IU had actually won yesterday’s game. The man was that magnetic!

In fact, Coach Corso’s charisma eventually landed him a job at ESPN. He has been on the air for years, offering color commentary and his special brand of enthusiasm to viewers around the country.

Coach Corso is one of those unique individuals with the gift of lifting people up. His positive attitude is contagious. His smile never fades. These traits have carried an otherwise unremarkable college football coach to a position of fame and glory. He’s one of a kind.

I can learn a lot of lessons from Coach Corso. Despite his enthusiasm and his ever-positive attitude, he didn’t lie to his audience. He never came on his Sunday morning show trying to claim a victory when the team had lost. Rather, he wrapped the truth of defeat in praise for the effort that his team had put forth. Where mistakes were made, he took ownership of them. Where successes were to be found, he extolled them. In that sense, Coach Corso was and is a true leader.

Practicing honesty in recovery is a delicate and precious thing. Honesty with my sponsor is vital. Just as vital is my sponsor’s ability to be honest with me. Yes, honest, but never brutal. Truth never needs to tear someone down. Instead, it should be used to build someone up or to help them grow in their recovery.

This is especially true when it comes to the newcomer or someone who is struggling. The fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is full of broken and imperfect people. None of us ever gets it completely right.

Unfortunately, the NA fellowship also has its share of bullies. Members who seem to be poised, waiting for someone to use the wrong word or break some rule. Like a schoolyard bully, they pounce on their victims, humiliating them publicly for any perceived infraction.

(If you are a member of NA, and this observation offends you, feel free to call your sponsor. Shoot, feel free to contact me.)

Anyway, such bullying has no place in our fellowship. As an individual trying to practice honesty in my life, I’ll do my best to receive any criticism from others if my actions or words appear to be bullying.

Where honesty is concerned, whether praise or criticism, I strive to always be positive in my dealings with others. I want to be more like Coach Corso, presenting the truth, but doing so in a way that is encouraging and uplifting.

Those who know me best can certainly tell stories of times I have fallen short in this area. Sometimes I’ve been a total jerk where the truth has been concerned.

As it turns out, I’m just as capable of being a bully as the next person. It’s an area of my life that remains a work in progress. Thus, this message is first and foremost a reminder to me. A reminder to practice honesty, but to do so with tact, empathy, and kindness.

Part of the new way of life I have found through NA involves building others up. As an addict, I have more than enough experience tearing myself and others down. It’s time for a change. It’s time for the Lee Corso Show!

Have a remarkable day!


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