You’re convinced of your own skill, but the coach/captain keeps putting you on the second team. What are you going to do?
You’re a girl playing mixed, and the boys keep looking you off when you’re wide open. What are you going to do?
You’re the coach of UNCW, and you’re annoyed that people have preconceptions about your spirit or your style of play. What are you going to do?
Let’s just assume that you’re right. You are a good player, a spirited team. There’s no moral obligation on you to do anything different. The fault lies entirely with someone else – a captain, a boy, other teams. Why should you change? You’re perfectly within your rights to get angry, to complain, to say ‘It’s not my fault.’
But let’s look for a minute at a different side of the issue. Not whose fault it is, but whose problem it is. And the answer? It’s yours. You want to play 1st team, to be thrown to, to be respected by other teams – and these things aren’t happening. Are these other people really likely to fix this for you? Get real.
But can you do anything about it?
Well, yes. Go and practice until you’re so obviously the best that you get picked. Become a better thrower than the boys on your team. Make your spirit so exemplary that others have no choice but to notice.
Is that fair? No. It’s not fair at all. It’s wall-punchingly frustrating. They seem like idiots, and yet you’re the one working harder. If you only care about who’s to blame, then you’ll probably find this very difficult. If you care about being the best player you can be, the best team you can be, about taking personal responsibility for your progress, then you’ll find it easy.
Everyone faces difficulties. For some people, they’re excuses. For others, challenges. For the people who reach the very top, the concept of whether it’s fair or not doesn’t enter into it. Tiger Woods didn’t get into the Augusta clubhouse because everyone else recognised the unfairness of their policies, but because he gave them no choice.
The question always has to be – what can you do about it?
I have nothing to say about whether or not UNCW deserve their reputation. I know nothing about it.
But I do know that a team which avowedly wishes to have a better reputation, to be respected for its victories and not just remembered for the incidents, but who choose to take no personal responsibility for it – “We are never going to win any spirit awards and that isn’t something we emphasize in any of our practices or coaching,” – is focussed on blaming others and not on trying to fix it.
Perhaps you have to be more spirited than other teams if you want to lose that reputation. Perhaps that’s not fair. But very few things are.