Mind Over Sports

The Myth of The Team

Posted on: September 15, 2006

The more we believe we’re part of a team, the less productive we become. I realize this runs counter to conventional wisdom, but it’s true. We hear about star players, the ones expected to perform miracles, the ones a team depends on. A team with a star player is bound to lose if other players sense their contribution is less important. They don’t put out 100 percent. They let the basketball star rebound and shoot, instead of chancing an aggressive mistake that may turn over the ball. With two out, they wait for the slugger to come to bat, and don’t risk trying for a stolen base, lest they fail and be accused of losing the game before the slugger could save it. The result is a team with one or two givers (the stars) and a lot of takers, persons who sit back and take advantage of the star performance instead of putting out 100 percent themselves.

A case in point: June 4, 2006, it was announced that St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols would be out indefinitely with a strained muscle and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Jim Edmonds, who himself was about to be placed on the disabled list, was assigned to take over Pujols’ spot at first base. According to Associated Press writer R. B. Fallstrom:

Edmonds, who had been limited to one pinch-hit at bat in the last seven games by an abdominal injury, went 3-fo-3 with an RBI double in the fifth and a run-scoring single in the sixth, and walked and scored in the first after entering the game in a 3-for-29 slump.

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