Cheering a Team to Defeat!!!???
Spring is the perfect time of year! For me, the season starts to come to life beginning with NCAA March Madness, and then fully blossoms with the NBA playoffs in April and May. If you know me well, you know I’m a huge basketball fan. What can I say — I love team performance while watching each individual team member contribute to the overall results. And I enjoy seeing the coach provide the inspiration — and faith — in his players. That’s pure magic to me — not to mention great leadership in action.
What has captured my attention this year is seeing college basketball bring out some pretty serious fan hatred. In fact, 49% of fans polled by USA Today rooted against eventual NCAA winner Duke University at one point.
Duke’s head basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski (pronounced shi-shef-ski) was quoted in USA Today as saying: “That happens when any program at any level of sport has continued success and high visibility… that’s just going to happen.”
Really? Success breeds hatred? What’s that about?
And the NBA is no different. Just look at the Los Angeles Lakers. They’re the NBA team a lot of fans love to hate. Even though they boast 14 NBA title wins, these champions have the swagger of Kobe Bryant drawing the wrath of many fans of the game.
Even LeBron James, the back-to-back league MVP from the Cleveland Cavaliers, has his detractors. There’s a video of him purposely throwing his two separate warm-up jerseys just out of reach of a ball boy in Chicago — that’s going viral — with 820,000+ views.
As a culture, we have a lot of die-hard sports fans who rise and fall with their teams, enjoy the stories and live vicariously through the wins and losses. There is nothing wrong with that process because it makes the victories even more sweet. But that’s very different from choosing an “enemy” team and actively wishing them to crash and burn.
Wishing others to lose is so foreign to me. What sense does it make to intentionally choose negative thoughts?
I don’t get what prompts a person to start to hate an athlete or team whose values or style clash with her own. While the athlete or team is minding their own path to winning, you wish them to fail, and have little or no impact on the athlete or the sport you follow. Instead, that kind of negativity ends up having far more of an effect on you.
Maybe the same is true for the game of life. We sometimes look at competitors — both internal and external — as the enemy. We wish them to fail. We pull against them. And maybe even resent their success as if it’s at the expense of us.
So as you watch your favorite teams — or sport your finest business suit — take the time to pose these questions and observe your answers:
1. Am I taking care of my business – or someone else’s?
2. Are my thoughts helping me to achieve the success I am gaming for?
3. What am I learning from observing others’ success – and how does that enhance my leadership?
Success is not a zero sum game. There is enough to go around for everyone. All of us go through cycles of failure and success. Ups and downs serve us if we learn from them and advance to our own next level.
Here’s a valuable reminder: there are always better ways to cheer a team on while enjoying your game, rather than wishing someone else’s to crash and burn.