Editorial—Team Speak

This morning I managed to catch the last little bit of the Women’s Olympic Gold-Medal Soccer (or Football as it’s known to most of the world) match.  As you probably already know (spoiler!) we won.

It was messy, and, at least in my completely untrained opinion, the Canadian team was more or less outclassed by the Swedish team, but the Candian women held on well enough to bring it to a penalty kick shoot-out, and there, not having to deal with team play, Canada managed to bring home the gold.

This is obviously nice for Canada, and an exceptional thing for these women, but to me it showed something more.  It showed how an extremely solid team performance can outclass a group of extremely talented individuals—unless outside forces constrain the team from operating together.

It seems telling that our only other goal during the game was also during a penalty kick, again, divorced from the team as a whole.  And while I’m not trying to take away from the athleticism or abilities of these women (I certainly wouldn’t be able to keep up with them for even the first few minutes, never mind two grueling hours) I hope their coach takes the time after the celebration to use that match to school them in the importance of the team.

When the Swedes got hold of the ball, they invariably passed it to someone.  Occasionally it would get taken away by a Canadian player, but more often than not, another Swede was there to collect it.  It was almost graceful, like a carefully planned dance. In contrast, when the Canadian team had the ball, they simply seemed to try to ditch it as far away as possible.  If someone was there to receive it, it was happy coincidence, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of passing, certainly not successful passing, going on.

Now take that thought, and turn around and apply it to our various systems.  Our electoral system, for instance, even though it’s supposedly about individual candidates, in reality it’s about the parties, and in the real politik sense, it’s not even about that most of the time, but rather about the single individual actor leading the party.  This is a view held by and promoted as well by most of our media, because, let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to create a story centered around a single person than it is to write a story of a whole group trying to make positive changes.  And in return, our political apparatus warps itself to better take advantage and support that media focus.

Do you know the name of your local MP or MLA?  If you do, you’re in a small minority of Canadians.  Do you know the names of the leaders of the various parties?  Probably, especially the party in power.  Yet, when push comes to shove, who is more likely to listen to you personally?

Like the Canadian soccer team, we, the Canadian public need to start considering our actions in more of a team manner.  This is not about your freedoms, this is not about my freedoms, this is about making sure that the team wins.  But our entire society is built to work against that, from our media reporting to our sports to our politics.  Is it any surprise that so many people seem to be unable to think of themselves as part of a wider society, but only look at their own point of view?  I’m not sure how to fix this.  But I think acknowledging that it’s happening might be a good first step.    Enjoy the read.

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