-Tyler Normand, Contributing Writer
Recently, MC intramural basketball season started, and as someone who loves to compete, I wanted not only to play, but to win. A few of my Shawreth brothers started a team, and I gladly joined. My teammates are competitors too, but there was a difference between them and me—I wanted to do it all by myself. My mindset was that if the ball was in my hands, I alone was going to get the ball through the basket.
My strategy proved to be a terrible one. I did not make a single shot. The whole game, I was trying so hard to make the dazzling play all by myself that I didn’t even hear my teammates trying to communicate with me. Now that I think of it, I don’t remember passing the ball the entire game. Out of pride, I wanted so badly to be the go-to guy who makes every shot and leads his team to victory. When my pride failed to receive its reward, I became frustrated and even began lashing out at my teammates—teammates who never stopped motivating me even though I was missing shots and we were losing. In the end, we lost as a team, but I was still focused only on myself. This time though, instead of thinking I could do it all, I didn’t think I could do anything. In practice later that week, one of my teammates looked at me and said, “This is a team sport.”
What did it mean to be a part of the team? Processing that thought in my head, I realized something important; all the weight of achieving the goal and winning the game was not solely upon my shoulders. In that first game, I tried to play a game of one versus five and that was never how it was supposed to be. Maybe I can make a few shots here and there, maybe I’ll have a hot hand for a few minutes, maybe I’ll get a steal or two, but every shot and every steal? For whatever reason, I am not going to make it happen all by myself. That’s why I have my team; so they can help me and I can help them and we can achieve something great together.
This concept is not reserved to a field or a court. This concept transcends sports. We need other people, and other people need us. Maybe someone is working to get their grades up, but they struggle to understand the material. They are not stupid or dumb, but they may begin to believe they are. They try and try, studying longer and harder, but the exam is getting closer and they feel that their comprehension of the material has not gotten any stronger than it was when they first started the class. They need someone to show them how to study or to better understand the material.
Maybe someone struggles with depression. Their burden makes them feel alienated, isolated, and alone. They can fight it all they want, but often the thoughts and the feelings seem like an overwhelming adversary. They may think that nobody can do anything to help them, and even if they could, they probably don’t care enough anyway. They take the weight of this fight completely upon their shoulders, and it wears them down so much, what was once only an illness of the mind manifests itself into physical symptoms. They need someone to listen to them and understand them.
Maybe someone is married, but they have hit a rough patch. So many problems seem to pile up one after another, but they insist on trying to fix it themselves. They put on an act so the neighbors never have to know. The burden weighs so heavily that they can’t even look their spouse in the eye because they feel they have failed the one they promised to love for better or worse.
Maybe the fight is against an opposing army, and the teammates are the fellow Americans in camouflage. A soldier needs to be reassured that no matter how bad the fight gets, his brother is going to fight with him. He asks, “Do you have my six?”
Maybe someone has just been diagnosed with cancer, and their entire world has come crashing down. They have been thrown into a fight for their life, a fight they didn’t even want to fight. The physical toll upon their body is one very few people could ever fathom as survivable.
In the words of Stuart Scott, former ESPN anchor known for his energy and kindness, who recently passed away from cancer, “So, live. Live. Fight… And when you get too tired to fight then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you. That’s also very, very important. I can’t do this ‘don’t give up’ thing all by myself.”
Maybe you are fighting something. I have no clue what, but maybe you are. I can’t begin to understand how you feel, but I tell you this; life is a team sport. Sometimes you can’t do it alone; you can’t make the grade; you can’t give 100 percent; you can’t fight anymore. Maybe you are temporarily unable and just too weary to go on. Please, surround yourself with good teammates who will motivate you, encourage you, instruct you, guide you, and if it comes down to it—will carry you.