By Ken Reed

Anyone who’s played a team sport — basketball, baseball, football, hockey, soccer, etc. — knows that teamwork and putting the needs of the group above individual wants and desires, is a primary key to the ultimate success of the team.

The fact is, it’s a primary key to the success of a society too.

Historically, the United States has achieved its greatest advancements and achievements when a high percentage of citizens — and its leaders — are committed to work together for the common good. To say the least, that’s not the case today in our divided country.

I was doing some reading recently and came across a terrific quote from Bill Bradley, a Rhodes scholar, NBA champion and long-time U.S. senator. It was from his book “Life on the Run.” Bradley was well-known as the consummate teammate on the championship New York Knick teams of the ’70’s. He was also well-known as a senator who held bipartisanship as an important value during his time in Congress.

Here’s what he wrote. All sports teams — and the country as a whole — should heed this wisdom.

I believe that basketball, when a certain level of unselfish team play is realized, can serve as kind of a metaphor for ultimate cooperation. It is a sport where success, as symbolized by the championship, requires that the dictates of community prevail over selfish personal impulses.

A team championship exposes the limits of self-reliance, selfishness, and irresponsibility. One man alone can’t make it happen; in fact, the contrary is true: a single man can prevent it from happening.

The success of the group assures the success of the individual, but not the other way around.

—Bill Bradley, starter on two NBA champion New York Knick teams and three-term U.S. Senator, 1979-1997

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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