Teamwork – What does Teamwork Really Mean?
What’s going on here? According to an article with ABC News, it reports that women’s college basketball is better than men’s college basketball. It goes on to say that all the best female players of college are playing college basketball and only a fraction of the best male players are. In women’s basketball, there is far more talent actually on the court in a typical game, season or championship tournament. Which is to say, more of the best female college-age players are playing college basketball.
The article goes on to say, “No doubt, the women’s tournament has a very different character than the men’s — and I don’t just mean the scarcity of dunks. Big upsets are extremely rare, and teams perform relatively closer to their expectations. But you don’t tune in to witness madness; you tune in to witness greatness”.
University of Notre Dame is a testament to women’s basketball popularity.
South Bend is my home town, which is a small town of about 50K people. The University of Notre Dame (ND) gives South Bend a place on the map. My father was a Double Domer, which means he received his BS and MS at ND. My daughter is also a graduate of ND. I guess you could say, ND is in my blood. My parents still live in South Bend and purchase women’s basketball tickets and not the men’s basketball tickets. They report that the women basketball games are much more exciting, which is a testament to the article from ABC news.
One obvious reason for the popularity of our adoration is that American women are the best team athletes in the world. They rock. They rule. What’s not to love? They’re good sports, too, apparently unpolluted by the violence and greed that plague men’s sports.
Now, as millions of girls grow up playing team sports, they too are discovering how to embrace victory unapologetically and other essential life lessons. Here’s some of what team-sport athletes know:
They know who their teammates really are.
Most women are good at friendships, but how many have teammates who don’t just sympathize, but help us achieve success? A friend might say, “I don’t want to start a business with you because it might hurt our relationship.” A teammate says, “Of course I’ll do it with you: we share the same vision and passion, so we’ll be successful.”
They know how to compete.
Non-athletes tend to avoid competition and believe friends shouldn’t compete. Athletes don’t see competition as divisive; they use it to connect. Athletes play hard in practice, knowing their best efforts help teammates improve. They shake hands with opponents, grateful for the challenge.
They know how to lead.
Women athletes need to be the sort of person who’s worth looking up to. The captains and leading scorers need to bring hope and enthusiasm to the team each day. People become good leaders by practicing. Role modeling is the best way to communicate how to become a great leader.
They know how to bond.
When I speak to my women business owners, the complaint I hear most often is, “The women in my office don’t support each other.” Girls who learn to compete only over beauty and boyfriends grow up to be women who don’t bond in the work place, don’t share information, don’t mentor. Team athletes support other women. Athletes have a shared vision of who they are.
They know how to take risks.
Athletes don’t always succeed, but they’re willing to take public risks, which inspires women whose fears of looking foolish keep them safely seated on the sidelines.
They know how to ask for help.
In basketball, athletes on defense need to yell, “HELP?” Such public pleas are humbling and debunk the Superwoman myth. We really don’t have to be the perfect worker, mother, partner, friend. We can and must ask for help-in life, as in sports.
They know how to forgive themselves.
When girls start paying sports, they say, “I’m sorry” a lot. But eventually they stop apologizing and focus on their next achievement. This is very appealing to those of us who torture ourselves with self-incriminations!
They know that women are strong, successful and free.
With their high-fives, hugs and aggressive, competitive play, female team athletes represent who many of us want to be, or want our daughters to be. By pursuing victory in a context of friendship, support, respect and celebration, team-sport athletes are redefining what it means to be an athlete, and what it means to be female. No wonder we love them. They show us our future: female bonding, and female excellence, at it’s best.
You women rock!