UConn’s Coach Gene Auriemma’s video on selfish athletes has gone viral as he expresses his frustration and anger at coaches and programs who allow selfish play from their players. His video has struck a cord around the country because there is a pervading sense of irritation from people frustrated by the attributes of selfishness and self-promotion.
Our friends in the NBA have expressed major concern over the state of affairs in USA players who place a premium on cool and less on work ethic, attitude, and enthusiasm.
What is creating this selfish player and what can we do about it as players, parents and the overall basketball community?
First, we have a problem with contempt in our society. Contempt is easy. It’s easy to scoff, to put others down, to show disdain. In acting, it’s much easier for actors to act contemptuously than with love, enthusiasm or passion—it’s easy to fake disdain or contempt but everyone can spot a fake when trying to show real heart and emotion. Advertisers cannot sell professional athletes trying to act like they love something—they have to show contempt and scorn because it is the most believable. We have a society of advertisers using cool as a tool to sell.
Second, we’ve had a power shift from the team to the individual. Branding from Nike, Under Armour and the big name companies no longer back teams they back people. There is a premium paid for a person’s persona, power, and prestige. Athletes are emulating what they see. They see the body posture, chest thumping, and braggadocious behavior of the major stars and think there is a connection. They want what their idols have and they use the easiest path to get there. It is easier to emulate acting cool than it is to replicate the pro's crossover or hesitation step.
Third, parents have made their kids god and kids have made NBA players their god. When we make someone who is not god, God and give them our entire happiness, hope, and purpose, we will create seriously selfish and narcissistic people.
Fourth, we have a generation of people who think they are better than they really are. How many wanna-be trainers, parents, and people are walking around thinking they should have been in the NBA or WNBA. I just read a synopsis of a book about a guy who was “on track to be in the NBA as a middle school kid”. He is writing this about himself. He talked about how he got injured and had to realign his dreams. This is delusional. No one in middle school should be talking like they have a straight shot to the NBA. There is a difference between honest goal setting, reality, and positive thinking. If you know people who tell stories about how they should be in the NBA, move on. You get in the NBA because you deserve it. If you are bitter because you didn’t get discovered, you were not good enough. Thinking you are better than you really are is based on too much self-focus and self-promotion.
So what can we do?
1. Encourage people to have meaning and purpose beyond college and professional sports.
2. Require student-athletes to be people of character. If they are selfish, they sit.
3. Get advertisers to show passion, service, enthusiasm and joy instead of just contempt, power, and dominance.
4. Value team in your life and in your home.
5. Expect more of yourself and those you lead to be people who make everyone around them better. When you are on the court, your team should be better because of you. You are there to serve the team not the other way around.
About NBC Basketball Camps
NBC Basketball Camps mission and philosophy is that basketball can be an amazing tool to help instill life lessons of character and leadership. Basketball does not create character, it reveals character and it is the intentional work of coaches and programs to use basketball to help call athletes to a higher and better way to live. NBC Basketball Camps began in 1971 and have expanded to six countries to help every camper walk out of camp a stronger player and a better person. If you love basketball enough to work hard and you believe in the importance of leadership, self-discipline, gratitude and mental toughness, you need to be at NBC Camps. Find out more at www.nbccamps.com/basketball
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