Teamwork will allow us to win the game of life

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how connected and interdependent we truly are as a global community

Ken ReedI’ve been blessed with many great sports experiences in my life. Since I was seven years old, I’ve loved playing and watching sports.

I enjoy many aspects of sports but what I love the most is the camaraderie. More specifically, it’s the sense of fulfilment that comes from being part of something bigger than myself, and sharing the ups and downs with people I like and respect.

To me, there are very few things in the world that can match the experience of being part of a team that’s working toward a common goal.

As part of a team, you need to sacrifice a little of your individual desires and wishes for the good of the group. The common good must take precedence over self-interest.

I once saw this described as “a commitment to the oneness.” I like that. A lot.

Anyone who’s been involved with sports, in any role, including as a fan, understands how critically important teamwork is to success.

Michael Jordan, the primary subject of the recent ESPN 10-part documentary about the Chicago Bulls called The Last Dance, is generally believed to be the greatest basketball player ever.

Yet even he couldn’t win six National Basketball Association championships on his own. He had a hall-of-fame coach in Phil Jackson and a perennial all-star in Scottie Pippin, who played Robin to his Batman.

He also had less-talented teammates, role players who came up big in big moments, like John Paxson and Steve Kerr, who each hit game-winning and championship-winning shots during the Bulls dynasty.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how connected and interdependent we truly are as a global community. People on every continent are worried about how the virus might impact them, their loved ones and their way of life.

Defeating the pandemic, with the least damage possible, will require a great amount of teamwork across the globe.

From a spiritual perspective, I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful to watch in sports than a team seamlessly working together as a group. However, teamwork is also critical to success outside the sports world, no matter what the objective is.

“Teamwork is the essence of life.,” said NBA coaching legend Pat Riley. “It makes possible everything from moonshots to the building of cities to the renewal of life.”

Steve Nash was a terrific basketball player, as his two NBA MVP trophies can attest. But he was never concerned about individual stats or accomplishments.

“I simply want people to remember me as a great teammate,” said Nash, a former player and general manager for the Canadian men’s national basketball team and a Naismith Basketball Hall-of-Famer.

During this pandemic, as never before, we need to all work at being great teammates. As global citizens, we need to curb our selfish urges and focus on the common good.

We are all bound together on this big blue ball we call Earth. In effect, whether or not we always realize it, we’re teammates in the game of life.

It’s time to start acting like it.

Ken Reed is sports policy director for League of Fans (leagueoffans.org), a sports reform project. He is the author of The Sports Reformers, Ego vs. Soul in Sports, and How We Can Save Sports.

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