Posted on 21 August 2012 by Five0ClockCharlie
Posted on 08 August 2012 by Thraxxus
Americans, most, love Football – American Football. We love the hits, the game, the competition, the smell of it all. We talk about the game when there is no game. In the offseason we discuss what happened in the previous seasons and what might happen in the next season. We focus on the players, the teams, the draft, who is going where – theorycraft really. In effect we fill time where there is no football with discussion about the football that isn’t there. We have learned to take this game, and all that it involves, and raise it up on a pedestal, making the players demigods, or have we?
This is a football player. His name is Barry Sanders. He is considered by many football officianados to be one of the greatest to play the game. Barry retired from football just after the 1998 season – he had played for just nine years professionally. In that short time Barry became legend – in football that is. He was 5’8 and weighed 203 lbs. Tiny by professional football standards – but it didn’t matter, he was great. Barry Sanders, the legendary football player. Question: What did Barry Sanders need to be legendary?
Most people will quickly talk about his physical attributes, how he was the perfectly designed runningback, his understanding of the game, his heart and will power, his selflessnes. They will talk about him as a player, and only him, because the question implies that. The answer though is far more vast, and far less understood. Barry Sanders played on a team, which is a group of men each playing a variety of positions – 53 on the team, 45 dress for a game. So Barry Sanders needed them right? What about the teams prior to the team he played on each professional season? We should count them as well as they helped to make Barry Sanders who he was right? What about his opponents teams? Each professional season he played against no less than 16 of those. By my count, players alone, that means that each season Barry Sanders could say that his legend was affected by roughly 1000 players, again – each season. What about College? High School? He played there as well. Barry Sanders encountered thousands and thousands of players in his career, from begining to end.
Does it end there? Where do these players play football? Where do they practice? The teams play in stadiums, and practice in practice facilities and stadiums. Where did those come from? Every single place that Barry Sanders played and practiced at affected his game in some way – didn’t it? Nine stadiums, minimum, each season to play in (1 home, and 8 away). Practice facilities, another Nine, at the least. Again, per season. What about the prior seasons? What about college? High School? Didn’t all those places affect his legend in some fashion – they helped to build his legend didn’t they?
Those places were built and maintained by someone, weren’t they? Surely these colossal structures didn’t just popup out of thin air. Someone had to design them, buy the location, acquire the building materials, have knowledge of how to build such a structure, project managements, builders. The list goes on and on really. Dozens of people? Hundreds? Thousands? Per facility. How many? How many people were involved in each and every one of these facilities construction? How could they have built those places without the materials to build them? Where did those materials come from? Where did the wood come from? The concrete? The steel?
What about the uniforms? The coaches? The water boy? Locker room guys? Groundskeeper? Team Owner? Manager? Physical Therapist? Masseuse? Nutritionist? What about the doctors? Referees? Linesman? Cheerleaders? What about the fans? Were any of these people an effect on Barry Sanders? Did they interact with him? Surely an argument can be made that at least some of these people had an effect on his game right? What if the physical therapist had wrapped his ankle poorly one game? What if he wrapped it better than any other ankle he had ever wrapped before? What if he was perfect at HIS job?
This line of thinking can be taken to the extreme even more ridiculous than it has already been taken here. In fact, it can go back in time, to those that played before Barry Sanders – what they brought to the game. Truly, we can get silly with this line of thinking – or is it really silly?
As parents, in our society, we tend to value what society values. In the USA, Professional Atheletes are valued above almost anyone else – publicly anyway. They are regaled as heroes. Demigods. We raise them up above all things, and forget how they even got there, and who helped them get to those great heights. Tragically this has lead many parents to try to get their own child into that position, even if said child doesn’t want to be there – even if said child is both incapable of doing so and would hate it if they were. Why? Why do we drive our children to be something that they are not? Why do we strive to push them to be something they would hate to be?
Why is it so wrong to be one of those other people? The builder. The architect. The doctor. The groundskeeper. The physical therapist. The ad writer. Why is that so wrong? They are all needed. They are all valuable. They are required for Barry Sanders, any Barry Sanders, to become legend. They are all, in some way, a part of that legend – even though they are not actively represented in our memories of Barry Sanders.
President Barrack Obama recently said “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” He took a lot of flack for that statement. The more cantankerous Republicans took his statement as a belittlement of the business person – lessening their accomplishments. That is one way to take it – not the way I took it. I am not defending Obama, or anyone else who makes a statement like the one he made – I am simply seeing it in a positive light. That business owner’s business isn’t actually possible without others being involved – at the very least the customer. The materials they need, the establishment, the vehicles, employees – all of it, is involved in the success of that business, and thus that business person.
Why forget them? Why dismiss them? Why pretend that they had no effect? To be positive for a moment, something that is not easy for me, people have a place. In any successful endeavor there are many factors that came together for that to happen. People, places, materials – again, all of it. Perhaps it is best that we remember those things from time to time, and help those that help us to become the legends we aspire to be.