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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

There’s No Team in I


Courtesy of Keith Allison on Flickr




There is no “I” in team—a phrase we all know that has been visibly disregarded throughout professional sports. So-called “teams” are composed of individuals seeking the greatest personal gain rather than the common goal of winning. Where have all the teams gone?

Last year, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson skipped training camp because he believed he deserved more money. He had been the leading rusher in the NFL since 2008 and felt undervalued at his existing $1.065 million salary. After missing the entire preseason, Johnson agreed to a four-year $53.5 million contract extension making him the highest paid running back in the league.

But Johnson scored only four touchdowns last season, fewer than half his prior season total, and the Titans failed to make the playoffs. This year has not been any better: they are 3-6. Johnson tried to justify his poor performance, saying, “It’s just a situation where I’m going to be only as good as my line’s going to be.” Whether or not that’s true, the Titans might be able to afford a better line if Johnson did not account for nearly fifteen percent of the team’s entire payroll.

Johnson is not alone. Professional sports are littered with such greediness. To a Yankees fan, Alex Rodriguez comes to mind.

In 2007, A-Rod signed a ten-year $275 million contract with the Yanks, the largest in major league history, and his stats and health have declined ever since. He batted .111 in this year’s post season and has played in 221 of the team’s last 324 regular season games.

The Yankees have the aging vet for the next five years, until he is 42 years old, and they owe $114 million on his contract. A-Rod is a sinking ship, and an expensive one.

Great teams are not comprised of individuals working for themselves, but rather, of those willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the group.

After the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals, Stuart Scott asked Dwayne Wade about giving up his role as “the catalyst of the team” to LeBron James. Wade responded by saying, “We made a decision two years ago to become a team…I had a role to play. It might have changed a little bit, but at the end of the day we all had one common goal, and that was to become the champions.”

Wade certainly has the attitude of a champion. True that the Heat have the third highest team salary, but money does not necessarily buy a championship—just ask the Yankees.

Some players have lost sight of why they started playing sports in the first place letting egotistical goals replace team ethics. Fortunately, players don’t win championships, teams do, so until Paul O’Neil and Bernie Williams step out of retirement, teams like the Yankees are not going to accomplish much.