There Is No "I" in "Team"- Where Has the Team Emphasis Gone?

Jake LivinstonCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2009

We've all heard the saying: There is no "I" in "Team". That is such a true statement. It's not about the name on the back of the jersey, but about the name on the front.

I can't quite fathom why, but it seems that nowadays, the name on the back gets more attention.

This isn't true in all cases, but the players are trying to promote what's on the back instead of the front. This problem, let's call it the "all-about-me-virus" is starting to seep through from the pros all the way down to high school, and worse, junior high sports.

Society tends to focus on how one player in particular did, sometimes even more focus is drawn to that one player than to the entire team. If a team is focused on one player, there is no way they can be successful.

This past year in basketball, even though only playing at the freshman level, we opposed teams that sported first-class uniforms with-what else- names on the back of their jerseys. Our team was so jealous of them, but my coach calmed us down by saying what I have previously mentioned- that we play for the name on the front.

After he spoke those words, all thirteen of us players were pumped up. It had taken us a while to realize why we were playing.

We weren't playing for how many points each person in particular could score, not for stats or style points, not for popularity at our school. We were representing our entire school.

That game was by far the best game we played all year. The ball was distributed very well and our defense was phenomenal. Nobody on the team was looking to make plays for themselves, but looking for a way to free a teammate. We won by about 20, the largest margin of victory on the season.

The best teams are those that are team-centered, not me-centered. Every great team needs that 100 percent team player. And it doesn't hurt to have a few, if not all players, like that.

But the amount of teams like that are dwindling. This is because, as previously written, emphasis is put on one or two players. If those players don't get what they feel to be their time to shine, chaos erupts on the team. As in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, the locker room split.

The Cowboys are a prime example of this. They had a whole team of Pro-Bowlers in Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, Jason Witten, Flozell Adams, DeMarcus Ware, and Adam "Pacman" Jones. But to many players hurt the team because of things they did or said because not enough attention was given to them. (I'm talking to you, Terrell Owens)

Kids and teens are starting to get the "all-about-me virus". They are starting to the idea that they can be the one who fires up 20 shots a game, hits clean-up, and should have ten to fifteen passes thrown to them. 

This virus is spreading quickly and it starts with the pro game. If the pros get the virus, then kids will follow their "so-called role models" and catch the disease, too.

All the respect and admiration in the world should go out to the high school coaches who teach their student/athletes (notice how student comes first) the fundamentals of the game and how to play as a team. 

We can turn sports back into the team-centered game they once were. Next time you have a teammate who is catching the virus, just tell them that it's not all about them, but the team.

After all, there is no "I" in "Team". And that should never change.