I define a “team” as a group working together to accomplish an objective. I’ve heard we are in the age of “me, me, and me,” one has to wonder is there any room left for the team. A friend of mine state blunted, that he would rather be the star on a losing team than ride the bench on a winning team. This led me to ask, how many also feel like that. Like they would rather be the star on a losing team or a supporting player (on the bench) of a winning team?
When given this choice, I guess it would be a 70/30 and, at best, a 60/40 split in favor of being the star. We are Americans, and I don’t deny that we thrive on contribution and being the star. Besides, being a significant contributor on a losing team makes the wins when they finally arrive that much sweeter because of the struggle it took to get there. Not a flawed concept or reality when experienced.
Being a role player on a winning team does not mean you are less critical to the team literally. A role player may not be as important relative to the team’s best member, but he or she is essential in his or her own right, which is not to be discounted. A good team has a deep bench, and bench players are vital to the team’s overall success. To state one would rather — by choice — be on a losing team as the star informs of a desire not to be a part of the team, but, be more than the team. The type of individual that is likely to withhold effort when not in charge, or not the star and central focus on the team.
Consider, there is no guarantee the losing team will ever experience the thrill of victory. The team could be reconciled to perpetual loss and never learn how to win. Two, the intangible mental effects of losing (failure) can have a lasting impact on an individual and team. The Buffalo Bills went to the Super Bowl consecutively four years in a row before management, free agency, retirements, and trades dismantled the team of skilled veterans. One has to wonder if mentally they believed they could dominate the regular season and playoffs, but never fully believed they could win the Super Bowl after the first loss to the NY Giants. The Knicks/Bulls rivalry during the Ewing/Jordan era is another example. The two teams met in the playoffs seven times (with the same core team each year) between 1981 and 1996, with the Bulls winning six of those series. Maybe the Bulls were just the better team, but one has to wonder if the Knicks began to defeat themselves mentally when playing the Bulls. Considering that both the Bills and Knicks were relatively competitive winning teams, it would be negligent not to acknowledge losing franchises with regard to the sports analogy. The Detroit Lions have been, on the whole, perennial losers. They have had some huge stars — Barry Sanders, Scott Mitchell, Herman Moore, Megatron — but they have yet to truly experience victory consistently. One has to wonder how much does the history of losing impact that franchise. If you are out for individual accolades, maybe being the best player on a weak team is for you. Do know, losing is just as infectious as winning, and proceed with caution.
My view, assuming you had the opportunity to choose, get on the winning team at every opportunity. One, the experience of winning is infectious and leaves a lasting impression on the individual of what it takes to win. Two, the level of competition on the team will improve your performance overall. Consider, some of the weakest students at the most competitive schools are better educated than some of the best students at less competitive schools. Three, bench/role players often receive an opportunity to assume the star mantle, and when the opportunity is presented, they often succeed. To continue using sports as an example, Tom Brady sat behind Drew Bledsoe, Aaron Rodgers, sat behind Brett Favre, Barry Sanders, sat behind Thurman Thomas (the list goes on and on), and each will be or are in the Hall of Fame. Finally, the intangible mental impact of winning (success) is an extreme confidence builder, and confidence is vital to overall success individually and as a contributor to the team.
To conclude, I see life much like a draft, rarely do most of us have the opportunity to choose our team. We are drafted and make the most of the opportunities presented. However, if you have a chance to select your team, do not hesitate, and do not shrink from the competition; do get on the winning team. Instead of being a star among lames, earn the position of a star among greats. If being the star is not in the cards at the moment for whatever reason, enjoy your wins, make your contributions, and respect your role. Do learn and be ready, an opportunity to be the star will likely present itself in time. More importantly, star or role player, you are a member of a great winning team; no one does it by themselves and LOSING JUST PLAIN SUCKS.