What Does "WE Not ME" Mean?
What Does "WE Not ME" Mean?
The Sunrise Coyotes believe that football is the ultimate team sport. No one player is more important than another. Our running backs don’t run for touchdowns without the efforts of their offensive linemen. Our linebackers don’t make spectacular tackles without the selflessness of our defensive linemen. With that in mind, we have committed ourselves to a culture of putting the team before the individual. At Sunrise you will not see last names on the back of jerseys. You will not see individual award winners. You will not see players preforming antics to set themselves apart from their teammates.
What you will see is hardworking, gritty, kids who `realize that playing this game the right way is reward enough.
Please take the time to read the following articles about what happens when players, coaches and parents, embrace the synergy of putting the team before the individual.
I hate banquets. I hate awards. I hate all-conference voting. I hate newspaper articles. I hate stats.
Maybe it’s just this time of year as sports are winding down and people are starting to get recognized (or not recognized) for their on-field achievements. Or, maybe I have just reached my yearly tipping point, where I get so fed up with the modern culture surrounding high school athletics that I truly comprehend doing something else for a living.
I think I am like most of you. I got into coaching (and subsequently athletic administration) because of what sports did for me. I do this because of the coaches that inspired me, both positively and negatively. I do this because my greatest friends to this day are guys I played ball with. I do this because team sports were, without a doubt, the most fun I ever had in my life. I do this because so many coaches and parents and volunteers gave so much time and so much heart in order to make my experience unforgettable. How can I not give back?
I do this because I believe that kids need to learn to compete and sacrifice and persevere and work together as a team. Those are the skills they will need if they are going to have an impact on this world. Those are the skills they will need to be great employees, husbands, and fathers. There is no better laboratory in which to test, experiment, and grow social intelligence and interpersonal skills than the field, the court, or the locker room.
I do this because I believe in the education of the whole student – mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical. An education that lacks one of these components is, in my mind, incomplete. I believe that sports are an extension of the classroom. I believe that coaches are just as important as teachers in the overall formation of our youth.
And, let’s not forget the #1 reason we all do this…It’s supposed to be fun!
So, without getting too specific… here was my weekend.
It started on Thursday, when the all-conference teams were released. Friday morning was spent responding to three parent emails that all seemed to know the exact motivation of every single coach that was involved in the voting process. Later that morning, a coach walked into my office and showed me a profanity-laden text message from a parent that was upset about the lack of recognition his kid received in the newspaper. Saturday, I was sitting at an event and was cornered by a parent who had obviously been saving up at least a year of frustration regarding the lack of recognition of her kid’s sport compared to the other sports on campus. If I had to summarize the major talking points of her 10 minute venting session, I believe the term “Blatantly Discriminatory” would be a good start. Later that afternoon, one of my coaches had to send a parent back to the bleachers after she decided that the pregame warm-up was a good time to discuss her kid’s playing time.
How did we get here?
Is this what high school sports have become?
Now, I learned early in my coaching career that you cannot argue rationally with irrationality. You can’t use logic to sway the illogical. Usually, the best response is to just listen and remain calm because any argument will simply escalate the situation.
But, because I assume that, if you are reading this, you have a rational understanding of the true place of sport. Here is logical response: The game itself is reward enough. If there was no one in the stands and no one in the press box, we would still play this game. If there were no newspapers, and no HUDL, and no Maxpreps, we would still play this game. If there were no trophies, no all-conference teams, and no post season banquets, we would still play this game. If there were no 40 times, no combines, no recruiting services, and no college scholarships, we would still play this game.
The game itself is reward enough. The love of your teammates is enough. The respect of your coaches is enough. Giving your best is enough. The intrinsic value of competition is enough. The knowledge that you have overcome is enough. The brotherhood is enough. The memories are enough. The fact that this is the most fun that you will ever have is enough.
We are fighting a battle against our culture.
The Culture of Me
Simply put, The Culture of Me is a mindset that focuses on the role of the individual. The ultimate definition of good is my happiness and my contentment. If I am not happy, if my needs are not met, if I am faced with struggles, then the situation must be altered to satisfy me, please me, help me.
This mindset at best ignores or dismisses other people and at worst completely undermines or discredits them unless, of course, others can be used for my benefit. As soon as people become a threat or a challenge, they are viewed as inherently evil. After all, they are standing in the way of my goals and my happiness. How could they be anything other than Satan incarnate?
In a way this is a genetically engineered child of the American Dream. Our forefathers founded a nation based on freedom, individual choice, and personal liberty. Over the years, much to the credit of Hollywood and the advertising industry, those American values have morphed into something much uglier than intended. If we were to rewrite the Declaration of Independence today it would probably read, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Getting What I Want, Having My Voice Heard, and Achieving My Dream.”
Ok, that’s a little tongue and cheek, but there is actually something to this. People’s worldview is screwed up. It’s all about me, what I can do, how I can achieve my goals, and damn everyone that gets in my way.
This worldview is encouraged by a high school culture that glorifies SAT scores, GPA, college choice, and career path. Our high schools have become, in the minds of many, a vehicle for personal glory, recognition, and praise.
As an athletic director I deal with parents almost every day. I would say, that when you really break it down 80% of the complaints I receive fall into one of the following two categories:
1) My son or daughter isn’t playing enough.
2) My son or daughter isn’t getting enough recognition.
Think about that. This is what we talk to parents about. Johnny’s stats weren’t right in the paper. Jack should be the starting shortstop, because he hits way better than Jimmy in summer ball. The only reason Michelle is starting over my daughter is because the coach likes her better. Mary isn’t going to play volleyball next year because she doesn’t want to sit on the bench. The media guide doesn’t list all of Jason’s accolades, he was first team all conference the last two years.
What in the world is wrong with us?
Erich Streelman is a former football coach and now serves as the athletic director at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett, Washington.
Mike Matheny: Weeding Out Selfishness Requires Confrontation
Success leaves clues and we all know that certain values like grit, optimism, discipline, and selflessness serve as the foundation for all winning programs. We know that history’s greatest coaches—from John Wooden to Dean Smith to Tom Osborne to Nick Saban—all preached the importance of teamwork and trusting “the process.”
Mike Matheny, a four-time Gold Glove winner as a player and the first person to guide his team to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons as an MLB manager, answers an important question: If everyone knows the formula for building a winning program, why doesn’t everyone follow it?
Throughout my career, I’ve found that the organizations and coaches who emphasize winning at all costs win either only in the short run or not at all. But the ones who focus on the people, pursue perfection, strive for excellence, and emphasize getting the process right seem to also win the most over the long haul. They build great teams, and winning seems to follow.
If the formula for success is so easy, why doesn’t everyone follow it?
The short answer is that it goes against human nature. Face it, most people enjoy the spotlight, taking the credit, being the star. But even the greatest stars in the history of, say, basketball, won their championships only when they learned to make their teammates better.
Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. Michael Jordan. LeBron James.
These four were superstars before they won championships. By themselves they couldn’t carry their teams to titles. But when they also became ideal teammates, look what happened.
If there was one thing I learned early, it was how teammates ought to treat one another. It forever solidified with me that the Golden Rule applies to a baseball team as importantly as anywhere else.
My pet peeve to this day is a player not treating a teammate the way he would want to be treated, and that often requires a heathy dose of tough love—in other words, confrontation.
Being a good teammate starts and ends with thinking more about your team than you do about yourself. Selflessness is the goal—not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.
Make no mistake, developing that mindset is not easy. It’s opposed by our culture and every fiber of our being. Instinct and billions of dollars in marketing tell kids to get what they can when they can, and do whatever they have to do to get it.
But any team that allows selfishness to permeate its structure will fail.
– Mike Matheny, from his book The Matheny Manifesto
Every coach or leader knows that in order to be successful, their teams and organizations must establish a team-first mindset. They know they must weed out selfishness and the me-first mindset that puts one individual’s desires ahead of what’s best for the team as a whole.
The problem for some leaders is that they want to avoid confrontation. And weeding out selfishness almost always requires confrontation.
It starts with calling out those who are disregarding the team-first mentality and establishing clear consequences. It can soon lead to much tougher decisions for the leader.
In sports, it may mean benching, suspending, or removing a player from the team if he or she refuses to become a team player. In business, it undoubtedly means passing over selfish employees for promotion, but it may also mean eventual firings if things don’t change.
Every leader knows that these aren’t pleasant experiences. Nobody wants to see an individual fail.
However, leaders must also approach their decisions from the perspective of what’s best for the team.
Whenever facing a difficult decision, leaders must ask themselves, “Is this decision best for the team?”
In most cases, if the decision is best for the team, it’s the right decision. If the decision benefits the individual at the expense of the team (such as, wanting to avoid confrontation with the individual), then it’s the wrong decision.
A selfish individual who refuses to change his or her ways will undermine the leader’s message of selflessness—a team won’t buy into a message if that message is ignored by others on the team without any consequences.
Selfishness will spread negativity throughout the organization if it isn’t confronted and stopped.
As Mike Matheny points out, the concept of selflessness may not be popular in our culture, but it’s essential to a team’s lasting success.
Being a leader isn’t easy. You can’t take a passive approach to leading a team.
Leadership requires making tough decisions and following through on consequences for the good of the team. And yes, that means confrontations that are sometimes unpleasant.
If a leader fails to root out selfishness, he only has himself to blame when that selfishness spreads throughout the team and keeps everyone involved from reaching their highest potential.