Scoot: Do Sports Teams Reflect the Cities they Represent?
by Scoot,posted Nov 6 2013 9:28AM
The Boston Red Sox won the World Series, and there is a shared feeling that the Red Sox were destined to win because the city of Boston rallied around the team after the Boston Marathon bombings.
Do sports teams absorb the attitudes of the cities they represent? Before the Red Sox played their first home game at Fenway Park just days after the Boston Marathon bombings, Red Sox star David Ortiz told the crowd to “Stay strong!” The public address announcer said to the crowd, “We are one. We are Boston Strong!” and a new spirit was born in Boston.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, did the strength and resilience of the city of New Orleans contribute to the Saints becoming an elite NFL team? Drew Brees and Sean Payton joined the Saints in 2006 and that began to spark a new attitude with the Saints and their fans, but talent alone was not always enough to alter the culture of a winning attitude. Throughout sports, there are endless examples of how the passion and inspiration of less talented teams and athletes led to victory over greater talent.
The major challenges that cities and communities face and overcome often seem to inspire teams to new levels of greatness. Not to take anything away from the impact of Brees and Payton have had on the Saints, but their talent was also provided a unique stage in a city that displayed remarkable courage and resilience. The Saints fed off the city and the city fed off the Saints!
In September of 2006 when the Superdome reopened 13 months after it was a microcosm for the magnitude of the disaster caused by Katrina, the Saints faced the Atlanta Falcons in a nationally televised game. U2 and Green Day touched not only the Saints and their fans, but also a nation when they sang, “The Saints Are Coming!” On that night and on that stage – the talent of the Saints players met the passion of a city and a nation and no challenger could have beaten the Saints in that moment in time.
As the city of New Orleans continued to rebuild its structures, as well as its soul, a nation watched and there was new respect and appreciation for New Orleans. The Saints became a symbol of the city overcoming astronomical odds and went on to win the Super Bowl in 2010!
Every year since Katrina and the Brees/Payton presence has not led to a stellar year for the Saints, but one thing is obvious – the Saints have become a better team as New Orleans has become a better city and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. The Saints and the city of New Orleans have become respected winners.
The Boston Red Sox are another example of a team that fed off the challenges and resiliency of a city in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Tragedies and disasters provide humans an opportunity to prove their strength and courage. When tested – we rise to the occasion. Individuals, teams, cities and nations demonstrate the depth of their character and will when faced with a challenge.
In 1977, Queen Elizabeth was celebrating her Silver Jubilee and there were celebrations throughout Great Brittan. That summer at Wimbledon, Virginia Wade, the British player, seemed destined to feed off of the pride of the United Kingdom by winning Wimbledon – and she did!
In 1980, the young U.S. Olympic hockey team shocked the world by beating the Soviet Union, a team that had dominated Olympic hockey since 1954. Sports Illustrated titled the US victory – “Miracle on Ice!” The US hockey team was comprised of amateur and collegiate players and the Soviet Union team was essentially a pro team equal to an NHL team.
The Cold War with the Soviet Union had reached one of many peaks in 1980 and tensions between the U.S. and Russia were a serious threat to world peace. The 1980 Winter Olympics were held in Lake Placid, New York – on American soil. Just a month before the start of the Olympics, President Jimmy Carter had issued an ultimatum to the Soviet Union – withdraw troops from Afghanistan or the U.S. will boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow. Russia did not withdraw troops within the timetable given by the U.S., and America, along with some other nations, did boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.
With the odds against them, the young U.S. Olympic team seemed to personify the strong sense of American pride and they beat the Russians, which inspired exuberance throughout America!
Passion and motivation may be even more important than talent and we see examples of that throughout our lives. Most of us can think of the times when we felt that it was our passion and motivation over our talent that led to winning a game, landing a big client or even attracting a companion. I have always considered the human element of emotion to be an integral factor in determining which team might win a particular game. Emotion is a greater force than statistics and physical talent.
If sports are a metaphor for life, then we learn how important it is for us to find the passion and motivation it takes to lead us to our peak performances. Passion and motivation are the intangible elements that produce peak performers in life.
And if a city or a nation can inspire a team to reach a higher level of performance – then we all have the ability to inspire ourselves to reach higher levels of performance – more through passion and motivation than talent.