These posts are about achieving a balance in life between sports and everything else! Please see the first two posts about 1) Prioritizing VALUES and 2) Gaining PERSPECTIVE. In other words, all this is an attempt at seeking an alternative to the craziness that pervades our culture when it comes to sports.
Alternative #3: Value COMMUNITY over INDIVIDUAL achievement.
This one might seem weird, but I think if you’ll stay with me you’ll see my point. Team sports teach us a lot about how to work with others and how to be accountable to others. These are among the positives we need to emphasize. The individual accolades and starvation for attention in sports today saddens me. It’s a product of many things in our culture – the greatest of which I believe is a lack of positive role models - especially adults with perspective, values, and integrity. Last time I checked a dunk was only worth two points no matter how incredible it was or whether someone got “poster-ized” in the process. And a first down is just a first down. It's important, but no points are awarded. Yet receivers continue to jump up, do a dance, and point their hand helping the refs to do their job. Maybe I’m a budding curmudgeon, but this stuff drives me nuts. I’m looking for athletes my kids can look up to. I’m looking for athletes who do work, who dominate, but who do it humbly. They are out there, but they don’t get the press.
COMMUNITY, teamwork, and unity will always beat individuality. But community isn’t flashy, especially in America, the land of rugged individualism. But this bend toward individualism; win at all costs; cut corners to gain success; do whatever it takes to get your 15 minutes of fame attitude is beginning to unravel American culture and values.
Instead, it seems some of the values most highlighted today are greed, arrogance, and distrust. When it comes to my experience as an athlete, some of my greatest memories – the things I’ll cherish forever – are the TEAMS I played on. I can certainly remember some of my individual highlights, but I remember team accomplishments even better. I cherish the feeling of belonging to something that mattered. Sports have always been the great equalizer. Think of the movie Remember the Titans. Sports have the power to break barriers that society cannot. Sports have the power to bring people together. Sports have the power to build community, pride in one’s school, state, or even country. Sports can be so good when it’s about COMMUNITY and teamwork. When it’s about individuality, we lose perspective, and with that loss of perspective often comes a compromise of values.
How can we as coaches, athletes, and parents emphasize TEAM over individual effort in order to teach and show the value of community?