Generally, the public glory in sports goes to the one doing the scoring. Starting so young in life, the girls who cross the plate, score the baskets, and put the ball in the goal are the ones who receive the loudest applause and praise. For the most part, the teammates are congratulated for playing a nice game. Only the parents who understand the sport and/or the attentive and knowledgeable coach or fan offer credit for great defense or that amazing assist.
As the young athlete matures, more praise is given to the non-scorers. The stat books do contain a column for assists and specific defensive achievements, and the media does pay some attention. But by that time, our young female athletes consider those categories second in rank to the point tally column.
Is it necessary to start the process of role appreciation at the very time they begin to learn the strategies of the game? Specifically, can we or should we work to instill a sense of accomplishment when giving up the ball for the team – the art of sacrificing in the interest of the team – at a younger age? How is it that a young athlete comes to feel those same goose bumps, that same sense of pride, when dishing off the ball or puck so that a better-positioned teammate can go in for the score?
Think about it. Shouldn’t this “one for all” attitude simply develop out of participation on a team? In an ideal sports world, a team win should take priority over individual statistics. Yet it is the connecting of great individual performances that result in a victory. Or, it is the domination of one or two that may carry the team above all others. Then we are back to the attention to “individual greatness.”
How do you teach or coach on this issue? Is there a balance that needs to emerge? Is this sense of team first innate or must it be established through conditioning? Is there truth to the expression that “there is no I in Team?”
I am hoping that this blog discussion is a work in progress and will take shape with your feedback.