There's No I in Team, But Me Plays a Big Role

One of the local high schools recently dedicated an area adjoining the gym as a sports hall of fame. I would like to tell you that I attended because I was inducted, and most of you would not know the difference. The problem is it would change this piece from an honest commentary to fiction. I know that much of our news these days is reported in an area similar to what Catholics know as limbo. Therefore, I can get away with using that quasi-news or quasi-fiction technique for this story. But unlike many of our political pundits, I have this thing about the truth.

The truth is I am not sports hall of fame material. I played football and basketball in high school and two years of football at Virginia Tech. My skill level in both sports at best could be called average. I don't think my name ever was on the front page of the sports section, and I don't remember being mentioned on the short list in the race for the Heisman Trophy. The best I can figure is that the only record I might hold to this day (if they tracked it) would be the most offensive charges in a single basketball season, which, unfortunately, happens when you finish football season and immediately step on the basketball court. It wasn't pretty.

I attended the dedication because several of my friends helped to create this addition to the high school. I wanted to be there to support them and thank them for all their efforts. I am glad I attended because one speaker told a lesson that his high school basketball coach taught him. It involved ten two-letter words, but those few words speak volumes. The ten words are "If it is to be, it is up to me."

Anyone who has played a team sport has heard a coach try to inspire teamwork by saying "There is no I in team." I believe the long time Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey once boldly commented on the growing lack of team loyalty in pro sports. Garvey said, "The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey. The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front. The new ballplayer cares about the name on the back." I know that using Steve Garvey's quote might unintentionally stir a debate on the issue, but I am not going there with this.

At first glance, the ten two-letter words I heard at the Hall of Fame dedication seemed to contradict the "I in team" wisdom and support Steve Garvey's words. As I let the words sink in, I realized that there was no conflict. For a team to have any chance of success, individuals must take that first step. They must commit to not only the team, but also to taking the personal actions necessary to help the team.

Even though the Heisman Trophy slipped through my hands, I learned some good lessons while playing sports that have helped me throughout my life. Sports taught me that you can't talk your way to success. It takes personal commitment to a goal and a team effort. It also takes full understanding that you will never achieve a thing without acting. That is where we find the me in team. It is that commitment to do what it takes to achieve something.

The same principles apply to everyday life. Today, many people are quick to criticize and slow to act. We often complain, but don't act. We face many challenges as a country and world. We can't talk ourselves out of this. It is more important than ever to remember you hold the answers, but nothing will happen if you don't act. For you, your family, your community, and our country, you can no longer sit on the sidelines. So, please, repeat after me, "If it is to be, it us up to me!"