Awards Can Focus on the Wrong Thing
The college game recently crowned its latest national champion. And with this weekend determining the NFL’s two contenders for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, the 2018-19 football season is about to pass into history.
Before it goes, I can’t help commenting on the individual awards that are such a familiar part of sports—each trophy or accolade attracting ever-increasing media adulation and hero worship.
However, be it Most Valuable Player, the Heisman Trophy, or similar award, such honors belie the true nature of a team sport.
The last time I looked, neither Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, nor any other feted quarterbacks of the modern era were playing one-on-11.
The problem with individual awards is the way they mischaracterize the people they are supposed to honor. When too much attention (and money) gets focused on an individual player, the concept of team goes out the window.
Singling out particular players as “the best” ignores the reality that without their team, they would literally be nothing.
Everyone plays a role in carrying a team to a championship, starting with the coaches designing the game plan down to the trainer keeping players fit.
Even the lowly water carrier squirting refreshment into players’ mouths during timeouts deserves a pat on the back.
Forgetting the “We”
It isn’t just football that gets swept away in this individual awards mania. Whatever one’s endeavor, there is some kind of award attached to the field.
Even if largely restricted to a particular niche, one can get easily carried away with “my” accomplishment and forget the “we” who helped it happen.
Having written or edited dozens of books and thousands of articles, I especially appreciate the team effort that goes into any published work. Whether on a book cover or a web article, a byline only signifies the lead person who helped shape the piece. Without editors, proofreaders, typesetters, designers, and others along the production line, said book or article would never come into existence.
For that matter, without the countless numbers of computer software designers and engineers working behind the scenes, none of us would have the equipment on which to compose the material.
I don’t discount the importance of the individual who is often out leading the way and inspiring those in the rear to do their best and rise to greater heights.
But at the same time, paying too much attention to a talented individual promotes the “look at me” persona that fuels too much present-day discourse.
While we’re getting excited about the talented superstar who is an All-American, we should remember those who made that person’s accomplishments possible.
After all, when they toast the Super Bowl winner in a little over two weeks, the trophy will go to the team, not the player who scored the most touchdowns.