By Ken Reed
Teamwork will allow us to win the game of life
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how connected and interdependent we truly are as a global community
I’ve been blessed with many great sports experiences in my life. Since I was seven years old, I’ve loved playing and watching sports.
I enjoy many aspects of sports but what I love the most is the camaraderie. More specifically, it’s the sense of fulfilment that comes from being part of something bigger than myself, and sharing the ups and downs with people I like and respect.
To me, there are very few things in the world that can match the experience of being part of a team that’s working toward a common goal.
As part of a team, you need to sacrifice a little of your individual desires and wishes for the good of the group. The common good must take precedence over self-interest.
I once saw this described as “a commitment to the oneness.” I like that. A lot.
Anyone who’s been involved with sports, in any role, including as a fan, understands how critically important teamwork is to success.
Michael Jordan, the primary subject of the recent ESPN 10-part documentary about the Chicago Bulls called The Last Dance, is generally believed to be the greatest basketball player ever.
Yet even he couldn’t win six National Basketball Association championships on his own. He had a hall-of-fame coach in Phil Jackson and a perennial all-star in Scottie Pippin, who played Robin to his Batman.
He also had less-talented teammates, role players who came up big in big moments, like John Paxson and Steve Kerr, who each hit game-winning and championship-winning shots during the Bulls dynasty.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how connected and interdependent we truly are as a global community. People on every continent are worried about how the virus might impact them, their loved ones and their way of life.
Defeating the pandemic, with the least damage possible, will require a great amount of teamwork across the globe.
From a spiritual perspective, I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful to watch in sports than a team seamlessly working together as a group. However, teamwork is also critical to success outside the sports world, no matter what the objective is.
“Teamwork is the essence of life.,” said NBA coaching legend Pat Riley. “It makes possible everything from moonshots to the building of cities to the renewal of life.”
Steve Nash was a terrific basketball player, as his two NBA MVP trophies can attest. But he was never concerned about individual stats or accomplishments.
“I simply want people to remember me as a great teammate,” said Nash, a former player and general manager for the Canadian men’s national basketball team and a Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer.
During this pandemic, as never before, we need to all work at being great teammates. As global citizens, we need to curb our selfish urges and focus on the common good.
We are all bound together on this big blue ball we call Earth. In effect, whether or not we always realize it, we’re teammates in the game of life.
It’s time to start acting like it.
— Ken Reed is sports policy director for League of Fans, a sports reform project. He is the author of The Sports Reformers, Ego vs. Soul in Sports, and How We Can Save Sports.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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