Basketball
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The Character of a Team Player

I get tired of professional athletes making zillions of dollars and then, after having a good season, complaining that they deserve more. They want their multiyear contract re-negotiated.

It’s just wrong. What happens if they have a bad season? Do they go to management and say, “I want to renegotiate my contract to a lower salary because I did not do very well last season?” Of course not. And have you ever heard management ask a player to take a lesser salary in the middle of a contract because they played badly the previous year? A player makes a commitment to a contract because he feels that, at the time, it is fair or a good deal. If we agree to something, we should honor that commitment regardless of the circumstances that might come later. Setbacks and unexpected successes happen, but they should never lead to dishonoring a commitment.

This brings up a great example of a player in my own backyard for whom I have a lot of respect: LSU’s quarterback Joe Burrow, who just won the Heisman Trophy. The first thing Burrow did when he was presented the Heisman Trophy was to thank the offensive linemen he plays with. He named each one, and then went on to mention the team’s receivers and finally his entire team of “brothers.” After recognizing his team, Burrow recognized Ohio State and southeast Ohio, where he comes from. He addressed kids from his hometown encouraging them that they can go for their dreams too despite hardships, like facing hunger, which is an issue there. And lastly, Burrow found his coach’s face in the crowd and thanked Coach Ed Orgeron directly by saying, “I am forever grateful for you,” and, “you will never know how much you mean to our family,” with tears streaming down his face, and for that matter most everyone else who watched his speech. 

Burrow’s speech exemplifies his character and his team-player attitude. He may be an amazing athlete on the field, but he’s also an amazing team player off the field. Burrow recognizes the people who helped him get to the position he is in. Burrow recognizes his teammates who play alongside him. Who catches the footballs he throws. Who runs into the end zone and score touchdowns. He recognizes his coach, who has mentored and guided him as a player and person. And what says even more about Burrow’s character is the fact that he used his winning position to address the issue of hunger in children from his hometown. Team character is exactly what Joe Burrow has.

Teamwork revolves around character. It involves thinking about others first and what is good for the team. It involves motivating people even if you are not the star player or first or second string. Character is the difference-maker when it comes to championship teams. If you are on a team, take a minute to ask yourself if you have the character of a team player? Do you give a damn enough to have that kind of character?

We want you to join The GIVE A DAMN Movement and pledge to educate and promote the values of GIVE A DAMN. Take the American Accountability Pledge at www.giveadamnbook.com, and, if you wish to learn more, feel free to email me at mlewis@giveadamnbook.com or call me at 504-905-4646.

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