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 #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee is a true superstar in the field of neuropathology and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke CTE, a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
Episode #2 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: College & High School Athletics: Where Do We Go From Here? The guest is John Gerdy, a former college athlete and NCAA and SEC administrator who became a sports reformer later in his career.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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