The False Nature of Teams: Reflections on the Ohio State win over Michigan

I saw some of the most bizarre behavior during the Ohio State football game at Michigan in Ann Arbor over the weekend that its worth some observational notes. I don’t watch much college football all though I enjoy the ambiance of all fall football. The details are often too boring. The students are not yet perfected to the level of the pros and I don’t enjoy watching them. I think colleges hold back people; it doesn’t enhance them. They are good for educating people into procedures and to be good employees, but not so good in turning out unusual thinkers willing to push the limits and during the game my concerns were more than confirmed. If the goal is to find one’s place into some pecking order of procedural thinking, colleges do what people spend their money on. But they do not make leaders—I find that colleges openly lie about this objective and they charge way too much money for it, yet they convince people to pay it due to these sports programs.

Watching the Michigan side, complete with Tom Brady providing commentary in favor of the “Blue” of his former school there were these bizarre statements about teamwork, and that the team is greater than any individual, any player, any coach, anything. This was astonishing to me because I hear that come out of the mouths of many people all through my professional life from the statehouses across the country to the intimate business meetings that happen hour by hour. People say these really dumb things and it makes you wonder where they get this information. Well, I know that the colleges have become in America excessive liberal factories trying to program political activism into their students and charging a lot of money for the opportunity. In trade, most companies, especially large ones agree to hire the kids from the colleges because secretly they just want nice employees who won’t rock the boat with new, breaking thoughts. They will just do what they are told and suppress any frustrations that might arise from the arrangement. But here, at the Ohio State game was lies about the arrangement, that no individual is more important than the team and that’s just not how the world works. The snake oil salesmen have obviously been hard at work in the broadcast booths of our nation’s college football games.

In the end the game was a blowout in favor of Ohio State winning 56-27. The point of the whole exercise was to make people who have attended these universities over the years, which is the point of all college sports programs, is to give those who have graduated, a continued value for their money spent. These days its like getting DLC content for a completed video game. It gives the participants a feeling of unity and a kind of family atmosphere in those massive 100,000 people stadiums where these games are played. But right after the game is done and everyone goes home, the specifics are forgotten and its off to the next thing. The whole experience is to unify people into the team concept of college sports and to coax them into continuing to spend money on the perceived results. For the amount of money that we are talking the whole scam is pretty pathetic.

So it went at the start of the game and during all this fluffy commentary about team work being so much greater than any individual, yet the results of the game was all about individuals being better than others, and the rest of the team sat on the sideline cheering them on along with the people in the stands. The terms, “we won” as was the common term used after the game, or “we lost this one,” were ludicrous. Ohio State had better individual players who picked up the team and took them to victory. In this particular game the quarterback and the running back were the two main positions where exceptional play took place, but most of the rest of the game was just a bunch of average people fulfilling their positions. Sure, the quarterback needs someone to throw the ball to, and the running back needs blockers—but in those positions, most anybody can play those roles, which is normal for the college experience. Most any graduate can be hired or replaced, and nobody would notice. But, the exceptional players J.K. Dobbins finding holes to run through or some of those deep, accurate passes from Justin Fields weren’t part of some team other than they needed to follow the instructions of the leaders in running the proper routes and getting open to make a play. The individual efforts were far more important than any collective message about unity.

Tom Brady’s comments in support of Michigan were bizarre as well. Let’s try an experiment, let’s take Tom Brady off the New England Patriots professional football team and see how many games they win. Or let’s take away their now famous coach. The lie that a team is what wins football games is told everywhere in modern culture, people buy it completely due to these kinds of recreation events justifying their comments, but reality is not being observed. The hard work that Tom Brady has always put into the game is why his teams have changed the players but they always continue to win. He is the stabilizing factor; the players come and go but the victories are the results of the many extra hours of hard work that Brady does to stay ahead of the competition. The teams under him get the ability to win a Super Bowl ring by sitting on the bench as opposed to playing for some other team where they might be expected as individuals to do more. But the truth is, they are irrelevant to the winning process, but Tom Brady is the key to a chance—and nobody else.

And it wasn’t Michigan who made Tom Brady who he is. They didn’t give him his natural talents. They gave him a chance to show it off but Brady didn’t come out of his big win over Ohio State a number one draft pick. He had to work his way up and work harder than everyone else, and still to this day he does that. That’s why he’s over 40 and still has a starting job in the NFL. Who else is going to be better than him? In the end, it comes down to the exceptional who carry the masses—always, in sports, in business, in politics—in everything. Everything. The colleges lie to justify their roles, and the masses buy the lie so that they can feel like they are part of a winning formula. But it always comes down to individual effort that leads teams to victory. Not the other way around. Everytime someone says something so stupid as the “team” is bigger than any one person you can always know that the person saying it has no idea how the world really works, and they are faking leadership. Because leadership is not about team victories, its about doing what leaders tell you and riding their coattails to success. And like I said, a good quarterback, running back, or business partner needs someone to throw the ball to. But wins and losses do not happen as a team, they happen as a result of leadership by individuals over those hungry to be led somewhere for an effort they couldn’t get any other way. That is a truth many aren’t prepared to contemplate, yet it’s the true essence of this ever-present reality.

Rich Hoffman

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