“Sports do not build character. They reveal it,” said sportswriter Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001), the son of newspaper columnist and sportswriter Heywood Broun (1888-1939). The quotation appears in James A. Michener’s book, Sports in America (1976).
A 1971 psychological study concluded that sports do not build character, as had often been claimed. “(Sports do not build character) Sports reveal character” was said by Broun in the Enquirer and News (Battle Creek, MI) on December 1, 1971. “Heywood Hale Broun ‘Sports Don’t Build Character, They Reveal It’” was a photo cation in The Evening Press (Binghamton, NY) on March 28, 1973.
There have been many variants of the “sports do not build character” saying. Texas football coach Darrell Royal said in 1975, “Football doesn’t build character. It just eliminates the weak ones.”
Wikiquote: Heywood Broun
Heywood Broun (1888 – 1939) was an American journalist, sportswriter and newspaper columnist in New York City. He founded the American Newspaper Guild, now known as The Newspaper Guild.
Sports do not build character. They reveal it.
Wikipedia: Heywood Hale Broun
Heywood Hale Broun (March 10, 1918 – September 5, 2001) was an American sportswriter, commentator, and actor. He was born and raised in New York City, the son of writer and activist Ruth Hale and columnist Heywood Broun. He was educated at private schools and Swarthmore College. His surname is pronounced /ˈbruːn/ (rhymes with “moon”).
Wikiquote: College football
“Football doesn’t build character. It eliminates weak ones.”
. Darrell Royal
4 December 1960 Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Northwest Notes” by Don Fair, sec. 6, pg. 7, col. 7:
“Coaches don’t make football players—we help them. Coaches don’t build character—we test it. Character comes from the homes, schools and churches and is proven on the football field.”
That was delivered by Washington State’s Jim Sutherland at a high school football banquet.
Google News Archive
23 September 1971, Modesto (CA) Bee, pg. B5, col. 1:
Psychologists Say Sports
Do Not Build Character
NEW YORK (AP)—Two psychologists, after testing 15,000 athletes, working with 27 professional athletic teams and hundreds of high school and college teams, found nothing to support the traditional idea that athletics build character.
Whatever it takes to survive the high attrition rate associated with competition, the psychologists say, those qualities are not the result of competition, they are there in the first place.
“Indeed, there is evidence that athletic competition limits growth in some areas,” the researchers reported.
Eight Year Study
This eight-year study is reported in the October issue of Psychology Today by Dr. Bruce C. Oglivie, director of the counseling center and psychology professor at San Jose State College in California, and Dr. Thomas A. Tutke, psychology professor at San Jose.
1 December 1971, Enquirer and News (Battle Creek, MI), “Heywood Hale Broun talks of sports” by Tom Milsom, pg. A-11, col. 2:
Broun, a Swarthmore graduate—where he was number six man on the table tennis team—contends sports do not build character.
‘Sports reveal character,” he says.
28 March 1973, The Evening Press (Binghamton, NY), “Broun Says Sports Drive Is ‘Burning Arrogance’” by David Bossie, pg. 3-A, col. 1 photo caption:
Heywood Hale Broun
“Sports Don’t Build Character, They Reveal It”
“SPORTS DON’T BUILD character,” Broun said. “It reveals character to the individual, not to others. You know how you feel after you’ve engaged in a sport.”
Google News Archive
20 October 1975, Lewiston (MA) Evening Journal, “Sport Sandwich” by Norman S. Thomas, pg. 17, col. 1:
Here’s a realistic college football coach. Darrell Royal, the Texas coach, declared at a smoker one night that he was tired of dreamers who “apologized for football’s roughness, by saying it was a character builder.” Royal stressed, “Football doesn’t build character. It just eliminates the weak ones.”
Sports in America
By James A. Michener
Greenwich, CT: Fawcett
Three conclusions have been offered to this problem. Heywood Hale Broun, who has written much in this field, has said, “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” Darrell Royal, of Texas, phrased it this way: “Football doesn’t build character. It eliminates the weak ones.” And a comedian has said, “Sport develops not character, but characters.”
Google News Archive
6 April 1976, Anson Record (Wadesboro, NC), pg. 16, cols. 1-3:
Heywood Hale Broun To Lecture
At Pheiffer College April 23
MISENHEIMER, N.C.—Haywood (sic) Hale Broun, the noted sportswriter and CBS-TV commentator, will lecture at Pfeiffer College on April 23rd at 10 a.m. in the College Chapel.
Broun, a Swarthmore graduate—where he was number six man on the table tennis team—contends that sports do not build character.
“Sports reveal character,” he says, “and I enjoy writing of and commenting on sports because, I think, madness—the fierce devotion to succeed competitively—is essential to greatness. I write of people who are interesting and not necessarily those whom I like personally.”
Google News Archive
20 June 1976, Victoria (TX) Advocate, “Book of the Week,” pg. 14, col. 3:
Nor, for that matter, does Michener subscribe to the traditional view of sport as a character-builder. Its effect on character is hard to establish. If anything, he agrees with the conclusion of Heywood Hale Broun: “Sports do not build character—they reveal it.”
(Sports in America author James A. Michener—ed.)
2 October 1976, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Notes off the cuff,” pg. 5C, col. 6:
I like the line by sports commentator Haywood (sic) Hale Broun. “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”
30 December 1979, Augusta (GA) Chronicle, “Oilers win 17-14,” pg. B1, col. 3:
“You don’t build character, you exhibit it, and this team showed more character than any team I’ve seen in 31 years,” Phillips said.
(Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips—ed.)
Who Educates Your Child?:
A book for parents
By D. Bruce Lockerbie
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
“Athletics don’t build character,” says the broadcaster Heywood Hale Broun; “they reveal character!”
Bird on Basketball:
How-To Strategies from the Great Celtics Champion
By Larry Bird with John Bischoff
Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley
It was Heywood Hale Broun who said, “Sports don’t build character, they reveal it.”