The oldest sports adage ever to exist is, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’”. Upon the first act of selfish play at whatever age, a child is bound to hear this mantra. Though at times this saying has become a parody of itself (but there is a “ME” in “Team”!), its core message never falters. Playing on a team means playing for others, not just for yourself. This idea was once obvious and unattested, however in recent years, it appears that athletes have less desire to achieve success for their team, but rather, they are striving to achieve success purely for themselves.
In an article entitled, “Is Player Entitlement Ruining Our Sport?” college baseball coach Augie Garrido discusses the change in athletes’ mentalities over the past few decades. Garrido believes that the “biggest thing wrong with college baseball today is entitlement.” That’s a pretty bold statement; yet when it’s a claim asserted by a coach who has been in the sports biz for more than 40 years, it’s pretty safe to say he probably isn’t wrong.
Garrido continued on to defend his point by offering a huge distinction between the baseball team he coached at Cal State Fullerton in the 70s and the team he currently coaches at the University of Texas. His team at CSU Fullerton won the College World Series in 1975 when they, virtually, came from nothing and had nothing. He explains that the team’s lack of locker rooms, acting as their own grounds crew, and driving their own cars to games didn’t matter—everything that was done on behalf of the team was done for just that, the team. To the players it didn’t matter what position the coach wanted them to play in a game as long as it was helping the team. It was an era of selflessness and achievement of the unit, not the individual.
Now, however, things have begun to morph into a more selfish era of play. Instead of athletes playing for their team, the goal, more often than not, is to play for personal praise. This change in attitude did not manifest itself out of nowhere. It has evolved alongside the changes in society. Daily life, like sports, has become focused on the “I” in lieu of the “we”, which has gradually led to a more self-centered mindset.
These issues typically arise at the beginning of a child’s involvement in sports. Though it might seem counterintuitive, constantly telling a child that they are the best or that they will make it to the pros in no time can be extremely detrimental in becoming a successful athlete. At Koa, we strive to make sure each and every child develops into a well-rounded athlete on and off the field. That means we take special issue in constructing an environment where every athlete plays for positive results of their team first, and themselves second. By doing this, we can instill an altruistic attitude both in sports as well as in life.
Believing in yourself and your abilities is not considered “entitlement”. Believing that you know best and that you are the best, is another story. If, as a community, we begin to encourage children that sports aren’t about the individual and are about building a successful team that works together in all circumstances, good and bad, “entitlement” can be vanquished from every child’s athletic experience. And that’s something Augie Garrido would certainly be proud of!
-Tony Korson, CEO 05/21/15