Teamwork and sport

First soccer team of Bagé, called Sport Club B...
First soccer team of Bagé, called Sport Club Bagé, in 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A team is an interesting thing – a group of people all with the same aim, working together to some sort of objective. Individually each person knows his role in the team and relies on others in the team to achieve the desired objective. There is a great deal of trust in such a group relationship, as one under performing member can result in the team as a whole reaching their goal.

This interdependence of the team members can lead to strong bonds outside of the group project – the members of a successful team are frequently close friends outside of the team environment. This can make it difficult for a new team member to fit in initially.

English: Ryan Valentine scores the goal that k...
English: Ryan Valentine scores the goal that keeps Wrexham in the Football League. Français : Ryan Valentine marque le but qui permet au club de Wrexham de se maintenir dans la ligue de football. Italiano: Ryan Valentine segna il gol che mantiene il Wrexham nella Football League Deutsch: Ryan Valentine schießt das Tor das Wrexham den Klassenerhalt in der “Football League Two” sichert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There may be personality clashes within a team, leading perhaps to physical interactions between team players. The scuffles and fights may well “clear the air”, and allow the team to function better in the team environment with most of the interpersonal tensions resolved or reduced. A divided team will never perform as well as a united team.

English: Kitting up One of the few people to b...
English: Kitting up One of the few people to be happy having his nuts squeezed tight. Helmet mounted torch on the left of the picture and video camera on the right. The diver is reliant on his support team when kitting up. They can’t help with an itchy nose though. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A team will have its support staff – in a sports context it will have the manager, the coach, the medical staff, the team drivers and so on. They are so important that they could be considered to be a part of the team, even though they don’t actually play the games themselves in the most part.

This inclusiveness can of course be expanded out as far as the supporters of the team, but this is not usually done. In amateur sport there is more reason to include the supporters as they are usually mothers or fathers of team player and often fill the roles of coaches and managers and provide transport to match for the players.

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Supporters of a professional sports team do have a large role to fulfil though, that of providing the revenue for the team, the support staff, the stadium, and other ongoing expenses.

They also provide support on the game day, but I wonder how much that has an effect. Obviously the crowd will make a noise when the teams first come out onto the field, but when the game is being played it is likely that the players will be concentrating on the game and the crowd noise will just be a background noise.

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Nevertheless, the crowd does have an effect. When the teams come on to the field the players have the leisure to hear them and respond to them and when the team is pressing for a score, the sound level from the supporters is going to increase and be noticeable to the players. However the intensity of play of the attacking team is liable to be higher at those times anyway.

There have been times when matches have been played to empty stadiums, either for safety reasons or if it is expected that friction between the fans would cause violence. Sometimes I, seem to remember, teams can be penalised for some off field offence committed by the fans, the management or the players.

The referee signals that a foul has been commi...
The referee signals that a foul has been committed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It would be interesting to get the teams view of what it is like to play to an empty stadium, but I don’t know if the players have been seriously asked to report what it is like. It’s unlikely to have no effect!

In sport at the grass roots level players are unlikely to specialise over much. They all may take turns at being goalie for example and every kid wants to score goals or touchdowns. Coaches at this level often enforce substitutions and switches so that every kid gets a go and enjoys himself/herself. That’s what sport is about at that level.

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But even at a quite low level player start to specialise, fulfilling a specialist role in the team as defender, or attacker, or bowler or batsman. One player will also be called on to be captain, and read the run of the game and set the strategy. Sometimes the strategic role will not be on the field as in American Football where the coach may make the strategic calls. In this case the captain’s role is much reduced.

Sports, especially the contact sports, can be considered to be ritualised warfare or at least ritualised conflict. It can possibly reduce tensions between different nations or rival groups, but is rarely specifically undertaken to do so, and indeed supporters sometimes come to blows during tense matches. Sportsmen who through personality or skill have an impact on the course of the game are treated like heroes.

English: Jack Williams, a player on the Denver...
English: Jack Williams, a player on the Denver Broncos American football team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sport sometimes makes the players very rich. At the top levels of basketball and in English soccer, for example, players may make millions of dollars or pounds during a relatively short career. Other may only earn relatively little. In order to try to prevent this becoming out of hand some sports use a “salary cap” to restrict excessive salaries and allow relatively poor clubs to compete on a more level basis with the richer clubs.

Fairness is considered to be obligatory in sport, at all levels. If a player is considered to have behaved unfairly he or she will be punished according to the laws of the sport. He or she may be ejected from the field of play or even the game. His or her team may have points deducted or the other team may be given a temporary advantage. The overall intent is to allow the team who are best on merit to win the match.

Free Kick
Free Kick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a fact of life that, especially in contact sports, that players get injured. This may be in accidental incidents on the field of play, such as a collision between two players or they may occur as a result of stress as the player exerts himself or herself in playing the game.

New players may temporarily or permanently replace injured players, and old players may “retire” from the game. The team will be constantly changing and the skill of the captain and the other players in supporting players leaving or joining the team can go along way to ensuring that the team relationships are harmonious and the team melds into an efficient unit.

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