Scott Baker’s Walkin’ The Sidelines: We, Not Me

We live in 21st century America.

The time and place when and where so many have a “me first” approach to life. The same time and place that when something goes wrong and it does go wrong, it is not my fault.

This is an issue that permeates all aspects of our society.

Governments, schools, workplaces, homes, neighborhoods and too often sports teams all face this issue. This is problematic to say the least.

Governments can’t control spending, politicians blame the problem on the other party.

A driver gets a speeding ticket, it’s the cop’s fault, or “I wasn’t the only one going that fast.”

A student fails a test, of course it was because the teacher never taught the material.

Late for school, huh, now that’s an easy one. Must be car trouble or an alarm clock malfunction.

Oh yeah, don’t forget the old standby for not having homework done. Yep, that’s right, the dog ate it. FYI, that one works even if you don’t have a dog. So they think.

The more modern version of that one is now computer or printer issues. You know like, ran out of ink or my computer was dead and I didn’t have a power cord. Okay

The list goes on.

You see, it’s a blame game. Blame whomever you want for whatever you choose. Some will buy the sob story, but in reality it doesn’t change the truth of the situation. The truth sometimes hurts, but it is nonetheless still the truth.

Like it or not, we are all responsible for our own actions. When we screw up, it is our fault. The sports world is not exempt from this attitude.

An athlete fails a drug test and it was because he or she was on cough medicine.

An athlete reports to preseason camp overweight and out of shape and it’s because… Because, because, because.

A player doesn’t get the playing time he or she believes they deserve?

Easy one.

The coach doesn’t like them.

Excuses might change perception for some, but they do not usually change the reality for most. Excuses are kind of like dirty socks. They all stink.

So here we are looking at how this new American environment plays out in sports.

Well, consider this. When a team wins, do players share the praise for their team’s performance?

It would be very natural in today’s environment to take more than one’s share. More importantly when a team struggles, perhaps loses, does an athlete or coach accept their share of the blame?

This is precisely what I mean by we before me.

In all my years as a coach, I always believed that it was about we. The team. Never me. We succeeded together. We failed together. WE. It wasn’t my team, it was our team.

A player missed a shot and took blame for losing the game.

Valiant? Yes.

True? No.

Did anyone else miss a shot in the game?

Statistically, that’s very likely.

The other side is Tommy missed his block and the quarterback got sacked, thus the reason we lost the game.

Oh yeah?

Did you miss any blocks in those four quarters of play?

Statistically, pretty likely as well. Yes, we did both. We. Never me.

Yes, as the head coach, I always looked in the mirror first.

When things went wrong, what did I do wrong?

More importantly, what could I do better?

I asked myself those questions because I was raised to understand that accepting responsibility for your actions was what you do.

Therefore, if I was responsible for the negative play of the team, I wanted to look at myself first before I rushed to place blame on the players.

Likewise, when things went well, I always wanted to be sure to send the praise in the direction of my players. Players play, coaches coach. Both have a job to do. Do it together. Win together. Lose together. But do it together.

Something that has always bothered me tremendously is hearing coaches say something to a player like, “you don’t do that on my field or my court.”

Or, “you don’t do that on my team.”

What?

My field?

My court?

My team?

Are you serious?

Those are all statements that are explicit in indicating that the coach believes that he or she has a status that is greater than the players.

Is that about me or we?

You can probably guess how I feel about that one.

If a coach speaks using those terms, isn’t he or she teaching players to think the same, me before we?

‘It’s all about we’ can’t just be a statement. It must be a reality. It is a philosophy that must be fostered everyday through every action. It is not simple.

Society has engrained in all of us so much that is opposite of this. Change is hard, but in this case, change is good. A change from me before we to we before me is essential if success and enjoyment is to be realized in the sports environment. It’s a philosophy that wouldn’t hurt in the world outside of sports either.

Just think, if we took that approach to many issues within our workplaces, schools, communities and nation, how powerful we would be. How easy would it be to solve those difficult issues if we were willing to work together for the good of the whole?

If only we would just somehow try. Certainly it is possible if we all just try to work together.

It’s called teamwork and it works for a team. Let’s go.

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