WORK BEFORE GLORY

by Raul Salazar

2017 RHP Cypress HS

Pepperdine Commit

Team is defined as "A group of players forming one side in a competitive setting", nonetheless being a part of youth sports in the Millennials has created a false image of what a team truly is. In its purest form, a team is a group of people FIGHTING TOGETHER EVERYDAY for a desired outcome or cause. From a very young age children have been raised with a strong sense of entitlement to success and in turn belief for a prosperous future, however this is a new epidemic in America killing the game one participation trophy at a time. Vince Lombardi believed the key to a teams success is "Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work". 

     To begin, the internet has revolutionized not only the way the game is played but the plethora of awards and accolades have grown to mean much more than they ever did before. Statcast, spin rate and exit velocities are all perfect examples of how the game is changing in the twenty first century, at the same time the athletes involved are becoming attention seeking I guy's. In a game full of individuals, coaches rave the most about the individual who has the TEAM first, not himself. Beginning travel ball earlier and earlier, parents have began pushing kids subconsciously to chase those participation awards and personal accolades. Growing up chasing meaningless trophies and accolades kids have grown accustomed to simply showing up and being rewarded for it. This fault in our stars has began to destroy the unerring idea of kids wanting to fight together for a group effort and created lone wolves who fight for the name on the back of their jersey. To clarify, this mindset wreaks havoc most when things are going poorly. For example, a team recently came off a winning streak and has dropped two back to back one run games on misplayed bunt defenses. In our generation fingers will be pointed towards anyone but yourself and try to blame someone else on the team for the failures. These athletes have been given trophies for losing and participating since the get go of youth sports. Now faced with a few knockdowns and a few losses the entitled youth no longer battles to fight the good fight. The entitled youth believes they are too good to go put in extra work and the success should just come naturally. This not only inhibits young men growing into the world but paralyzes the future generations that will be fathered by the current athletes. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act but a habit", unknowingly youth sports builds the foundational character for all athletes involved. Referring to Aristotle's principle, if children are commended for losing and given praise merely for trying, they will expect the same from the real world & Oh, what a rude awakening that will be! Although not every player on a given team will feel entitled, the fact that a team is only as strong as its weakest link exposes that one kid who just will not buy into the team unity.

     Another downfall of the Millennials is the stereotypical "My kid is D1 or my kid is an All Star" parent. Not only is this attitude detrimental to the child's development it creates a deep belief in the kid that he is too good for anything except what his parents believe he is. Sadly most parents do not see the harm they are causing on the kids attitude or mindset towards the game. I have seen with my own eyes, kids that will refuse to bunt because they are too big league to do anything but hit bombs. Where does this stem from? Throw on any MLB playoff game and there is usually a professional on that team who's a specialist and will bunt solely to help the team win, so why do these kids think they are too good for the little things in the game? Their parents have glorified the personal accolades and created a selfish ballplayer who would rather see his batting average go up before sacrificing his at bat for the team. The greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, couldn't win a championship for his first eight years in the league while cementing his own legacy and stacking up accolades. Once his team was filled with a group of guys ready to fight he went on to win six championships. There is no question that teamwork and group commitment brought Mike their 72-10 season with a clean run through the playoffs. And this is what made CBA so special, not only was the team filled with unselfish team players, it was a brotherhood. I can confidently say that the we were a group of individuals ready to die for one another and do whatever was needed to win the game. 

     Clueless to the work Michael really put in, a one minute commercial sums up how hard work creates success, not the modern belief that success will just come. "Maybe it's my fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn't. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner. That my game was built on flash and not fire. Maybe its my fault that you didn't see that failure gave me strength, that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God Given gift and not something I worked for every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game, or maybe You're just making excuses." This commercial epitomizes modern day kids feeling entitled as Michael talks to a group of athletes and lets them know that they're just making excuses! There is something inside every single one of us, and it us up to us to be patient enough and determined enough to bring the greatness out of ourselves. There is no shortcuts on the road to success, it is a long staircase that with the correct attitude is entirely manageable. CBA has developed a team first attitude and pushed every member of the academy to put in the work before expecting glory. 

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