The other day in my English class we watched a movie called Guru of Go. It was about a college basketball player who collapsed and died on the court in the middle of one of his games. His name was Hank Gathers. The movie showed how inspiring Hank had been to both his teammates and his community. He was one of the best players in the college basketball and had natural talent and spark on the court. When he died his team was shocked. They didn’t know how to react to it. But they picked up and played together for Hank.
Watching this movie I found myself missing the dynamic of a team sport. Being on the same court or field with your teammates, cheering for, and encouraging one another is the best feeling ever. When you win, you win together. When you lose, you lose together. One player can set the tone for the whole game by playing well and having a good attitude, that positivity can spread to everyone on the field. It’s addicting. Everyone gets fired up for the same reason and everyone is playing well. I love it. But there are also times when everyone plays terribly and has negative attitudes. This is also contagious and can be a teams biggest downfall.
I played competitive soccer about three years and I was on a team that did not get along very well. You could ask anyone on that team and they can tell you the same thing: There was ALWAYS drama. I strongly believe this is why we had a hard time especially in the middle and towards the end of my time on that team. We were constantly getting new players and didn’t have the time to really get to know everyone. Some of the girls didn’t respect each other on or off the field and it showed while we were playing. It was embarrassing to have my own teammates yell at one another during, before, and after the games. It got so bad that one of our players walked off of the field in the middle of the game, and never came back.
After quitting soccer I joined track and have noticed some similarities and differences in the team dynamics. Track seems to be more united than soccer ever was (for me at least). Everyone on my team cheers each other on and is proud of one another even if one person beats the other in a race. We all want each other to get better and I haven’t noticed any major problems with drama or negativity.
As I look back on that soccer team I know that it was so full of negativity that there was no way that we would have been successful no matter how much our coach yelled at us (just another sign of the negativity). But since I left two years ago I realized how much I learned about being a team player from that team:
1. Be positive- no one wants to hear you yell at them for their mistakes and it just brings the whole team down.
2. Respect your teammates- whether or not you actually like them you have to respect them as players to be able to play on the same team.
3. Try to get along with everyone- just try, at least it shows you want to work with others.
4. Don’t be stupid- the most important tip of all. Use basic common sense and social skills to deal with the people on your team; you might call the team a family but they will not love you unconditionally if you treat them horribly.
Even though I’m happier on my track than I was on my soccer team, I still found myself getting this sentimental sting in my heart whenever the men in the movie talked about playing basketball together. I missed having the connection of really working as a team to achieve a single goal. I know how much team sports have taught me and I will always be grateful to the many coaches and teammates I had who helped me learn these things along the way.
I strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t heard the story yet to look up the Loyola Marymount Hank Gathers story or just watch Guru of Go that I have linked below, it was inspiring, thought provoking, and an overall good story to hear.