Why I Love Sports (In General)

It is no secret that people can often be stunningly disappointing. When you think about working in groups at either school or work, you often think about people letting you down, not pulling their weight, not collaborating well, or not finishing in a timely manner.

Not to be a pessimist, but this is simply the experience many of us have faced when working in teams with people.

When I think of people trying to do something in cohesion where chaos ultimately ensues, I can always use two illustrations.

The first is traffic. If there is a car burning on the side of the road, or an accident, or any other situation out of the ordinary, normal people in traffic become erratic, unreliable and unreasonable. The thing you can almost certainly depend on is that someone will take their eyes off what they are doing, get distracted, and cause another accident.

The second example is people lining up for food. I think of work functions, a line forms, becomes disorderly, there is impatience, there is mess, there is often a lot of noise (and surprisingly when the food is free, a lot of complaining).

But sports somehow brings out this magical side of people where they trust each other, collaborate and elevate one another. I made mention of this the other night watching a World Series game between the Astros and the Nationals.

Someone catches a ball in the outfield. They pivot and without taking even a second to assess, they throw it to someone who they obviously trust will be there and be prepared. That person was, catches the ball and throws it onward. This is done in perfect sequence, no words exchanged, no double checking to make sure their counterpart was where they needed to be.

I recognize that they practice this over and over again, but I go to work every day of my life and meet with the same people over and over again and we are not that in sync with one another. We do not trust that our counterparts are going to be there when we pivot. We will send an email and follow up with a call if we need to ensure that something important will get done. We don't naturally incline ourselves toward collaboration, we do not naturally trust that those who work with us will do the right thing.

And not to say that it is always this way in sports either (obviously, sometimes you see quite a scrap break out among players at times), but so often you see this perfectly in sync, trusting harmony of cooperation toward success that is unfortunately missing from our everyday lives. You see an entire team celebrate the successful collaboration of two people (quarterback and wide receiver) because they recognize that the success of the team matters to them as individuals. At work, I see two people give a presentation, one churlish that the other is getting more than their share of the praise.

I've written about this before, but there is so much to be learned about leadership and team dynamics by watching sports. Is it because there is so much money at stake for them? Perhaps. But do the leaders in our own organizations not support their families on the money they are making, and is that not plenty at stake? Do we as individuals, leaders or not, require our incomes and therefore possess a significant reason to be good team players?

When I watch sports, I am obviously getting a release for my competitive nature, but I am also getting a chance to see leadership, collaboration, unity and team vision carried out in a way that usually (not always) gives me hope about people. That if we could just create that same sense of unity and vision within our own teams, we could create a cohesive dynamic where people put aside their differences and trusted each other with action and celebrated one another's success.