HIGH AND TIGHT Teams Make Sports Great

I’ll admit it – I used to make fun of field hockey.

I thought it wasn’t a real sport. I mean, they wear skirts. There’s not much contact. The whistle blows way too often. Yet, after attending almost every home game of the Georgetown field hockey team for the past two seasons, I was led to wondering why it is that I can’t help but look forward to watching the Hoyas take on opponent after opponent.

The reason, I think, is two-fold: watching a sport, just about any sport, played well is unequivocally entertaining – and the one thing that can add to that experience is if the team playing is a truly great team. There’s something about great teams, whether it’s Georgetown field hockey or the New York Yankees, that just draws us in.

Great teams are hard to find. They require so many different aspects that when the combination happens, it’s often by pure luck.

Possibly the most important element of a great team is the people it’s made up of – the players and the coaching staff. These people don’t need to be superstars or MVPs. But they need to want to be. They need to, like Hoya junior goalie Jessica Herring, play every game with an intensity that makes you wonder what they ate for breakfast.

But the thing about these people, these great athletes and coaches and managers and mentors, is that they don’t just have moments of greatness. They are great, inspirational even, every single day.

Could there be a more quintessential example of unwavering greatness than Yankees manager Joe Torre? His relationship with baseball is a little like yours with your family. As much as he needs it, it needs him. He is part of the game and the game is part of him. As the game comforts him, fans of the game take comfort in his just being there.

The way these people go about the business of their sports is a supremely important element of a great team – they inspire pride in their fans and their teammates, their parents, their coaches and their opponents.

One of the most remarkable moments of this field hockey season was Herring’s perfect save of a penalty stroke against VCU, inspiring her teammates to visibly improve their play and go on to win their third-straight game. How a team responds in these pressure-filled challenges can often define its greatness. It’s not necessarily whether they win the big game or break the record, but it’s whether they compete with pride and take responsibility for their wins and losses – and the nice thing is that if they do that, it will most likely be wins more often than losses.

Herring’s save is only one example of how the field hockey team members feed off of each other’s energy. With just a handful of fans in the bleachers at Kehoe, most of the cheering comes from either the sidelines or between them on the field. From the coaches to the captains to the freshmen, they recognize the importance of inspiring each other.

One of the best measures of a team or a player’s greatness is how they effect others. The Yankees have no less than an entire country rooting for them – who could deny the greatness of that, in and of itself? That a player, or a team, can put such pride in the hearts and minds of others is what makes sports great.

Although we might say it’s not right for our heroes to be sports figures, that we should look up to presidents or scholars or activists, it’s really no surprise that we don’t take our own advice. Where else can you find a more accessible and simple stage for stories of triumph, courage, desire and good old-fashioned hard work?

They’re right in front of us. They’re in the men who played last night in our nation’s great city. They’re in the women who are 9-3 and face their toughest opponent of the season tomorrow. They’re in our football team, who dedicated their season to an alumnus killed in the World Trade Center. They’re in our rowers, who run to the boathouse in the dark to sweat on the Potomac while we’re asleep.

Sports are emotion – they are glory and loss and triumph and failure and pride.

And that’s the greatest show of all.

High and Tight A(nother) Summer of Our Baseball Discontent … -Oct. 2, 2001

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.

HIGH AND TIGHT Teams Make Sports Great

I’ll admit it – I used to make fun of field hockey.

I thought it wasn’t a real sport. I mean, they wear skirts. There’s not much contact. The whistle blows way too often. Yet, after attending almost every home game of the Georgetown field hockey team for the past two seasons, I was led to wondering why it is that I can’t help but look forward to watching the Hoyas take on opponent after opponent.

The reason, I think, is two-fold: watching a sport, just about any sport, played well is unequivocally entertaining – and the one thing that can add to that experience is if the team playing is a truly great team. There’s something about great teams, whether it’s Georgetown field hockey or the New York Yankees, that just draws us in.

Great teams are hard to find. They require so many different aspects that when the combination happens, it’s often by pure luck.

Possibly the most important element of a great team is the people it’s made up of – the players and the coaching staff. These people don’t need to be superstars or MVPs. But they need to want to be. They need to, like Hoya junior goalie Jessica Herring, play every game with an intensity that makes you wonder what they ate for breakfast.

But the thing about these people, these great athletes and coaches and managers and mentors, is that they don’t just have moments of greatness. They are great, inspirational even, every single day.

Could there be a more quintessential example of unwavering greatness than Yankees manager Joe Torre? His relationship with baseball is a little like yours with your family. As much as he needs it, it needs him. He is part of the game and the game is part of him. As the game comforts him, fans of the game take comfort in his just being there.

The way these people go about the business of their sports is a supremely important element of a great team – they inspire pride in their fans and their teammates, their parents, their coaches and their opponents.

One of the most remarkable moments of this field hockey season was Herring’s perfect save of a penalty stroke against VCU, inspiring her teammates to visibly improve their play and go on to win their third-straight game. How a team responds in these pressure-filled challenges can often define its greatness. It’s not necessarily whether they win the big game or break the record, but it’s whether they compete with pride and take responsibility for their wins and losses – and the nice thing is that if they do that, it will most likely be wins more often than losses.

Herring’s save is only one example of how the field hockey team members feed off of each other’s energy. With just a handful of fans in the bleachers at Kehoe, most of the cheering comes from either the sidelines or between them on the field. From the coaches to the captains to the freshmen, they recognize the importance of inspiring each other.

One of the best measures of a team or a player’s greatness is how they effect others. The Yankees have no less than an entire country rooting for them – who could deny the greatness of that, in and of itself? That a player, or a team, can put such pride in the hearts and minds of others is what makes sports great.

Although we might say it’s not right for our heroes to be sports figures, that we should look up to presidents or scholars or activists, it’s really no surprise that we don’t take our own advice. Where else can you find a more accessible and simple stage for stories of triumph, courage, desire and good old-fashioned hard work?

They’re right in front of us. They’re in the men who played last night in our nation’s great city. They’re in the women who are 9-3 and face their toughest opponent of the season tomorrow. They’re in our football team, who dedicated their season to an alumnus killed in the World Trade Center. They’re in our rowers, who run to the boathouse in the dark to sweat on the Potomac while we’re asleep.

Sports are emotion – they are glory and loss and triumph and failure and pride.

And that’s the greatest show of all.

High and Tight A(nother) Summer of Our Baseball Discontent … -Oct. 2, 2001

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.