Boys can be difficult to reach–I mean to get their attention, to really get their attention.

That might explain how many coaches wear out their voices trying to get lessons across on the field. At first when the boy is very young, it might be a butterfly or a grasshopper  that catches his eye during a game–something that takes his attention away. I suppose it’s cute in the early days. When a boy gets older, he has learned the rules, become fit and puts in the practice, but he can lose his concentration when pretty girl walks by the field or someone he knows shouts from the stands. At any age, it can take some skill to get through to boys and men for that matter.

As I read more and work with books on football, I come to realize more and more what a great man Papa Bear George Halas was. He is the subject of our Papa Bear and the Chicago Bears’ Winning Ways, our recent book for middle grade boys.

Here are 10 qualities that made Papa Bear so approachable to boys and men.

  1. He was expressive. There were times when he got excited, sometimes joyful and sometimes angry, but he was not a puzzle around his players. Boys like to know where they stand with coaches and teachers.  He let them know.
  2. He was all about the team. No one suffered as much as Halas at a loss and was happier when his teams won. No one worked as hard. All his players learned his appreciation and respect for the game and how his Bears played it.
  3. He wanted everyone around him to act with character and feel good about themselves. In Halas eyes, if you don’t do what’s right, you will feel like a loser and if you feel like a loser, you will become one.
  4. Halas thought some things were personal. Halas made agreements with people that we wanted them to respect, certainly he respected his commitments. He often gave players bonuses quietly and took care of their personal debts.
  5. Halas knew the importance of guts and determination. Just who did Halas recruit? Players who were fearless, players who could handle setbacks, and players who were physical and tough.
  6. Halas looked forward, not backward. If you played for Halas, he might expect you to suffer from a loss, but he didn’t want you to wallow in it.
  7. Halas expected everyone to give their best. You don’t regret giving your best.
  8. Halas appreciated players who had goals and were focused.  Halas would not like the idea of boys spending all day on video games or watching TV. He was a man of action and appreciated others who operated that way.
  9. Halas was competitive and he always worked to defeat his opposition. He often succeeded by strategies that took the opposition’s best away from them. Stop the best runner or frustrate the passing game.
  10. Halas was in it for the long game. Halas believed in taking care of himself physically, by being a life-long exerciser and watching what he ate. He expected the same from his players.