Sports gives the modern man the opportunity to learn lessons he would have learned on an entirely different field. Though the stakes are drastically reduced, one can still learn the value of teamwork on the athletic field. There are numerous reasons athletic teamwork is quite valuable.
The first is that one steps out of one’s individuality in being part of a team. We are naturally individualistic, pursuing our own, disdaining others for our good. In team sports, it is entirely possible to be selfish, but the task is harder. We have a coach to bench us, teammates to rebuke us, fans to boo us. We thus have a built-in antidote to selfishness: the team. Its very presence works against our natural desire for self-refracting glory. When we acquire team experience, we set a good course for ourselves for (as heightened as this may sound) the rest of our lives. Don’t believe me? Try it. Play team sports for twelve years, with all the difficulties of prejudiced coaches, bad circumstances, jealous teammates, and you can’t help but take a hit to the ego. You learn a certain brutal humility at the hands of team athletics that is necessary and good.
The second great benefit of team sports is that we must learn to appreciate the contributions of others. Teamwork is a great thing for the formation of character. It teaches you not simply to avoid individualism and self-reliance, but to actually be thankful for the work of others. Even the most vainglorious of athletes slaps hands with his teammate who makes the shot. You see, there is a restraining impulse built into team sports. That impulse forces those who would only value themselves to appreciate others. This disposition is crucial for later life. Everyone knows an office all-star who thinks he is the fulcrum point of everything in the company. That guy, whose type we’ve all encountered, was part of the minority report from the world of team sports. Team sports take many such a boy who would become such a man and molds them into more of an “appreciater.” That is no small thing when one considers the great value of appreciating others in later life. In the family, the office, and the church, one must perform as a part of a team. Having others beside oneself restrains us and calls us out of self-appreciation. That, friends, is never a bad thing, and it’s found on a field near you.