In our current society, we tend to downplay or even forget what our leaders do for us. We take them for granted. With all the flaws we see in our leaders, we rarely see the good things they do. But if we are ever without one, we see exactly what they do, and how much they are needed.
As we see in every season of every sport, teams have lost their leaders, or have new leaders emerge. Whether it is a coach or a player, they can have immediate impacts, for good or bad.
Coaching, even in the pros, is important. We all saw what happened to the New Orleans Saints at the start of last season. They were absolutely lost. They had lost Sean Payton and looked like one of the worst teams in the league. This year they returned to the playoffs, advancing to the divisional round.
If further evidence is needed, we can look at the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh. They went from the laughingstock of the NFC to a championship contender in just one year. They now have been to three straight NFC Championship games. The same could be said of the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks and the work of Pete Carroll.
Recently, the Weber State men’s basketball team has seen yet another emerging leader. In his press conference after a game, WSU senior Byron Fulton mentioned that after their first conference loss, freshman Richaud Gittens texted all the players on the team, telling them to stick together.
Gittens downplayed what he did. He just saw it as something he has always done.
“I’ve always felt like, no matter how old I am, no matter what team I’m on, I can always lead in some way,” he said, “no matter what it is. It’s not just up to the seniors that have to get the guys together. I took it upon myself to text everybody. I said, ‘I know that we are all down about the loss, but I’m really proud of you guys.’”
One person who didn’t downplay the fact that a freshman stepped up to lead the team in a tough spot was head coach Randy Rahe. He said he was impressed with Gittens’ courage to step forward.
“I thought that was very impressive coming from a freshman,” Rahe said, “especially coming from a guy that didn’t perform particularly well. The last thing on his mind was how he played. He was more concerned about the team. That’s where his focus is.”
It is amazing how little things are so quickly forgotten in the world of sports. Coaches have to call timeouts to remind their players to box out or to not jump off sides. This is something a leader does. The players do the same thing. They are the voice that can calm in the storm. Just hearing a reassurance from someone you trust can make all the difference for one’s confidence and nerves.
Whatever sport you play, you need a leader. Someone to take the lead and force others around them to play better. Someone who will take blame if things go wrong, even if it doesn’t fall on them. Someone to rally the downtrodden. And if your leader gets injured, someone else needs to step up and direct the troops.
Even the lowliest player can have an impact. But it has to be someone.