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Jordan Bean | Sacked

It’s all about me

Published: Monday, December 9, 2013

Updated: Monday, December 9, 2013 09:12

A nine-yard first down run becomes “The Cam Newton Show.” A dunk in the middle of the second quarter is a chance to give a menacing stare into the crowd. Batting a first-and-ten pass away in the secondary gives you a right to wave your hands and do a little dance.

There’s a culture in sports — the “me” culture. Every play, every down, every point is a chance for athletes to celebrate and draw attention to themselves. It’s as if they were the only one in the play. The offensive line didn’t give Newton the time he needed to scramble. The wide receivers didn’t set up crucial blocks downfield. No — it was all about Newton getting to do his trademark celebration so that he can make sure all the eyes are on him.

Every player has a right to express themselves how they choose; however, I can choose how I perceive and react to it as well. And my perception is that the winners and losers both share common characteristics.

Derek Jeter, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady, just to name a few, are “team guys.” You’ll rarely hear them use the words “I” or “me.” It’s always “we,” “the team” or some variation of these when describing the events that happen on the field. A leader adopts this attitude of putting the organization in front of themselves. They assume the responsibility for the bad and redirect that for the good.

At the beginning of the season when Brady’s numbers were bad, it was never, in his words, the receiver’s fault. It was that he wasn’t making the passes and he wasn’t grooming the players properly to be in a position to win games. Now, with the offense rolling, it’s that the receivers have developed and are making the plays, not that he finally has people catching his passes. The blame was assumed and the praise deflected.

It’s not all that surprising that so many players elect to congratulate themselves because the fans and media have created this situation. We feed their egos. From a young age, the star athletes are told how great they are. Scouting services give them four and five star ratings, raving about their abilities. College coaches court them around campus offering them everything they legally (and sometimes illegally) can, giving them the impression that they’re above the others.

They’re given awards and flown across the country in first class for games. They’re drafted in the first round, given millions of dollars at a young age, and treated as superhuman. Does the media-appointed nickname “Super Man” for Newton ring a bell? If you tell someone that they’re special enough times, those who aren’t mentally strong enough will come to believe and act on it.

It is again not surprising to see that those who put the team first were often snubbed across their careers. Brady was a backup for some time at Michigan and drafted in the sixth round. Wilson was told he was too small to succeed in the NFL. Jeter hailed from a small Michigan town called Kalamazoo.

Athletes with something to prove will play like it. It doesn’t matter how much success they achieve, there’s always a chip on their shoulders. Those who are constantly told that they’re better than the rest will play like it too. Success will get in their heads and inhibit them from more in the future.

It’s time for these players to grow up. Their actions are immature and once this attitude stops, the winning will start. As Coach Casey once told me in a conversation, “Everyone is replaceable.” Someday, these players will be the ones replaced too, and maybe then they’ll realize that the game doesn’t revolve around them. Until this attitude is cleaned up, to the players — you’re sacked!

Jordan Bean is a sophomore majoring in economics. He can be reached at Jordan.Bean@tufts.edu.

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