Life is a team sport

Professional sports are a billion dollar industry, lives are made and ruined on the success of those players and their game. Professional sports teams organize and support their players with the world’s greatest nutritional, medical, physical, and psychological care. Winning sports teams can lower a city’s crime rate and save it from economic collapse. If the military organized itself more like a sports team – with the people at the top treated the flourishing of the people at the bottom as their highest priority – the world would be a better place.

Yet foolishly most modern work places operate on the military model. One person is in charge of 5 who are each in charge of 12 who are each in charge of 20 and communication can flow down from anyone but is only supposed to flow up through idiotic winding channels.

All workplaces use the word team now though. Frankly It’s insulting.

It’s an open lie, we all know no one at the top means it. It’s just part of the brainwashed corporate new-speak. And gestures of respect when you know the person doesn’t respect you feel so condescending.

I love teams, I believe in the power of teams, my neck tattoo says “Together We Are What We Can’t Be Alone” so yeah go team.

On sports teams everyone gets to indulge their mastery. Workplaces now focus on eliminating personal deficits, bringing everyone up to average because capable is all they care about. Good teams focus on people building up their strengths and letting the strength of the team as a whole cover the deficits of individuals.

Because the modern work place wants people to be interchangeable parts, they want us to be disposable. And I see the logic, people change jobs more than ever, sometimes you need to fire someone for legit reasons so they can’t be too indispensable, and with any tenure type system you wind up with overpriced complacency.

Feeling that you play a vital role is important to modern mental health, however. It’s the difference between excelling at your job and showing up for the paycheck. So also touching on what I said about playing to your strength instead of just trying to eliminate weakness you also achieve vitality with specialization on your team. You wouldn’t have your hockey team skate onto the ice willy-nilly then expect your goalie to rack up goals just because your forwards have fucked off. Let your goalies be great goalies.

Sports teams do operate as interchangeable parts on one level though: players get traded. In hockey you may have to play alongside who physically attacked you last season. And you have to make it work. So teams have team building exercises, they talk about being there for the team and being there for the game. What they don’t do is ignore it as long as possible until someone quits or gets fired.

It’s easy to say that sports is a billion dollar industry and they can afford to nurture the talent, or at least say they can’t afford not to, but things are different at our level of workplace and I don’t agree. I think the more likely culprit is that the leadership at our level is mostly people who stuck around long enough to get promoted. They’re big fish in little ponds. They want the years they put in to result in the freedom to punish people who won’t listen to them.

I’ve worked a lot of dysfunctional places and that’s why I’m so proud to work at The Gateway still. Because regardless of everything we’ve been through, the team is strong.


Singer/songwriter, jerk.

Posted in Pragmatism
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