How many of you are sports fans? I know I am!
I love seeing the underdogs win. I love seeing the team make a comeback when they are down and have been counted out by nearly everyone. I love seeing the weaker competitor find the intestinal fortitude to will themselves to victory, when they are being overmatched and overpowered by a stronger opponent.
You get all that when you participate in or watch sports.
I have been an athlete and I know what it is like to compete. There is something about the adrenaline rush you get when you are facing an opponent that wants to beat you, that is hard to explain. It is an amazing feeling, which everyone should experience at least once in their lives.
But as a sports fan, I can hardly wait for the seasons.
You know what seasons I’m talking about, right?
Football season, whether it is college football or NFL football.
Basketball season, whether it is college basketball or NBA basketball.
Baseball season. Tennis. Golf. NASCAR racing. The World Cup soccer extravaganza. You name it.
I even get excited about the Olympic Games, which the Summer Olympic Games will take place next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from Aug. 5 to Aug. 21.
If there is one thing I know about sports and competition, it’s that every sport has winners and losers, whether we like it or not. I love to see people and teams rise to the occasion in the midst of adversity.
The one thing that stands out, and is the common denominator in sports like basketball, baseball and football is a strong four-letter word called “team.”
With a team concept, each player on the team is expected to make a contribution for the overall goal of the team, which for the most part, is to win a championship. True competitors want to win it all. True competitors don’t want to settle for second place or a consolation prize. True competitors want to be first.
We have seen stories where a player has overcome an injury or orchestrated a comeback when their team was losing, or willed their team to victory because of their personal heroics.
It was so exciting to see Cleveland Cavaliers superstar Lebron James, who has been overly criticized in my opinion, overcome the odds of being down 3 to 1 in the NBA Finals against the reigning NBA Finals champions, and coming back to win it all in the midst of all the undeserved scrutiny he was receiving.
The pressure of choosing to come back home to Ohio to play for a city he had previously left and became the enemy of, who hadn’t won a championship in any sport for over 52 years, and being tasked with having to do something that had never been done in the history of the NBA Finals – bringing a team back from a 3 to 1 deficit – is something not many people can stomach. He handled his business, however.
Lebron showed us that with hard work and perseverance, you can achieve greatness and overcome the odds, but it takes more than just your individual effort.
Many of the sports I listed above are individual sports, but even those individuals need the support of a team. Golfers have caddies and NASCAR drivers have their pit crew. Most other individual sports figures have trainers. Everyone needs someone. Lebron couldn’t have done it without his teammates.
On the flip side of the coin, however, we’ve also heard the stories of dysfunction within a team, whereby the selfishness and pride of an individual player caused the team to lose and many times be humiliated.
Whatever the scenario, it all happened as a part of the team.
When you are a part of a team, you don’t have to like everyone on the team, but if you win the championship, you did it as a team. Every individual on your team is your teammate, and they will always go down in history as having shared that experience with you, whether you liked them or not.
On a team, you have an owner, and that owner has employees that execute his will, which is to make money and win championships. Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban and George Steinbrenner (R.I.P.), are considered some of the most aggressive owners of all time, but they have also been considered to be shrewd businessmen who wanted to win at all costs. They want to win, and that’s the bottom line.
Everybody has a role to play, and when you don’t know your role, you are guaranteed to lose.
The owner hires a general manager that runs the team. The coach or manager, depending on the sport you are playing, manages the players and the other coaches. The players have to then execute the plays.
Everyone has to know their role and stay in their lane if they want to win.
When an owner tries to be a general manager, it could ruin the growth of the team, especially if they have no experience in being a general manager. When a general manager tries to be a coach, but has no knowledge of calling plays or managing players, it will cause dysfunction. When players try to be the coach or manager, it causes problems as well. All in all, we can learn a lot from sports.
We need to not only know our role, but find a role to play to better ourselves and our community.
When I say community, I mean the overall Black community as a whole.
Whether you agree or not, when one Black person struggles, and isn’t challenged to do better and be better, the collective whole is affected. We can try to be an individual star player all we want, but when we neglect our fellow teammates, our whole team suffers and potentially loses.
We must get rid of the “us against them” or “have against the have-nots” mentalities.
None of us have arrived at the places we are in life by ourselves. We have all had a lil’ help from someone on our team, whether we know them or not, or whether we like them or not.
Just because many of us has achieved the status of being a star player who makes a lot of money, has a fancy title or a top-tier position, doesn’t mean that we should look down on our other teammates.
I need you and you need me, so we can be one big and happy family. I am a team player. Are you?
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org