Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why Football is still the greatest game ever Part III

Team Work

Or as Bo Schembechler said:

"the team....the team....the team"

In todays society where everybody is a star and we have all been ESPNized to view highlights as results rather then the team scores, we need football more then ever. It is arguably the greatest example of cooperation and teamwork in a set environment known to mankind.

Where else are game roles structured in such a set play environment. Yes Basketball has its "plays" as does every other sport but those are "flow" type sports where each movement evolves into many movements creating a freedom that is not present in football. If you are assigned to block one man - you block him. There are no options. you have an assignment period.

Along with this comes the teaching of roles within the overall play of the team. In basketball who doesn't get to touch the ball - nobody!!! Same in Soccer! In baseball everybody bats. But in football not everybody gets to run with the ball. You may be in the trenches. You may spend twenty years in the sport, never touch the ball once and never get your name in the paper. Yet, if the lesson is taught right, you learn that your contribution is just as important as those that cross the goalline.

While I was at Clifton I had a freshmen linemen who was very talented. Talented enough that he was getting looks from the big schools. He came into my office one day after lacrosse practice wanting to quit. (He had just picked up a lacrosse stick.) His reasoning "In football I snap the ball and never touch it again, I lift all year long to play 4 months, I never score, nobody knows who I am, and I don't get any chicks! In Lacrosse, I run with the ball, play year around, I can score, my name is in the paper, and the chick dig scorers!" Needless to say I couldn't argue with that non-rational logic. It just further illustrates my points

In today's society where everything is me, me, me and star, star, star. This lesson is vital and rare. Where else is the young man going to learn to be middle management in a corporation. Where else is the civil service worker going to learn to strive to be the best knowing he won't get the same rewards as the higher paying jobs.

Accountability: a life lesson

In today's education the term "accountability" is throw around like a frisbee at a hippie festival. Many use the word but allow for mistakes and blame to transitioned to other causes or excuses accepted. People lose jobs in the real world for not being accountable. Companies lose income and collapse. Learning to be held accountable is a life lesson that is invaluable. (learning self - accepting accountability is even bigger. On a football team everybody has an assignment every day, every practice, every play.  Excuses are not acceptable. There is a black and white line in sports. Either you did what you were suppose to or you didn't The same that will be required of these individuals in life.  Additionally, in football, the "eye in the sky" teaches one to be honest in his assessment of blame.

The individual vs the team

Unlike other sports one single person cannot dominate regardless of `what the stats say. How many times have you seen a player pull rebound down and dribble the length of the court and score - over and over. Or the high school pitcher who dominates, barely using his defense, and then hits the game winning homer. Doesn't happen in football - here's why?

  • The other team can and wants to hit him. They want to punish him for being a star! Thats a foul in basketball
  • The whole other team can converge on him and him alone. He is playing one against 11. If that happened in basketball - he would simply pass it off for an easy score and he defense knows this. In baseball the other players must stay on the bench allowing the pitcher to only play one player. In football he is tied by the structure of the play!
I know people are going to say what about the great quarterback or the running back with the dominate stats? The quarterback must be protected. He is at the mercy of the line.  You can't throw on your back. The running back while he adds to the teams success ratio greatly - he must have blockers. If you don't believe this - look up OJ Simpson's stats in high school. It's why he went to JC!

Why is this reliance on others so important in today's society? Because there are only rare situations where this is taught today. Everything in education has been based on individual success. In the real world - well to use a quote "No man is an island!" No matter how talented he may be! You must rely on others to live! You must rely on others to strive!


Also by shear numbers rolls become more divergent and due to practice time and structure even the 100th player becomes important. (If you practice the way we do with everybody involved to maximize reps!) If its done this way there is a respect through sweat! A bond through work! The player may not be thought of as a great teammate for his talent but he will be thought of a great teammate for his being a gear that helps the machine run.

All these lessons are predicated on how the team is run. Unfortunately, I've seen many teams where the teamwork lesson is put on the back burner for winning with stars.

Finally, just by number of people of the field acting as one there is more teamwork and cooperation needed. The physical aspect creates a need for more subs to play and fill their rolls. There is more teamwork needed in the locker room as by numbers there will be a greater divergence of personalities, races, and ethnic types.

In short, the game represents a microcism of the world they will live in and of the cooperation they will need to survive and succeed in later life. 

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