Saturday, January 17, 2009

Football is the ultimate team sport

You hear it so often: "There's no 'I' in team."

The true definition of the word "team" in sports is defined as a group of players in a game or any group organized to work together.

Sports such as volleyball and soccer are considered team sports because they rely on teammates passing the ball or setting up teammates. For now, however, let's focus on what is commonly known as "The Big Three" - football, basketball and baseball.

The question is not "if" they are team sports but which "is" a team sport to the greatest extent?
The question that might best draw a conclusion is which sport will an impact player have the least effect in making a team better?

Some folks call baseball an individual sport but that statement is pure baloney quite frankly. The World Series trophy reads "2006 World Series Champions - St. Louis Cardinals" not "2006 World Series Champions - Albert Pujols."

Baseball is a team sports centered around an individual matchup of pitcher vs. batter. If the batter hits the ball, however, the pitcher needs fielders behind him to make plays.

The teamwork aspect also comes into play when teammates converge on infield popups and flyballs because there is an emphasis on communication. Teamwork is also necessary on double-plays and relay throws from the outfield.

In baseball, however, one or two outstanding hitters or pitchers can also mask a lot of weaknesses. Exhibit A would be the 2001 World Series Champion Arizona Diamondbacks, led by the studly pitching tandem of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. If a team has a pitcher strike out say 10 or more batters, all of the sudden a team's suspect defense is less of an issue.

In addition, if a team has one or two dominant hitters, it can dictate that other hitters in the lineup might see better pitches.

Also keep in mind that the only player on a baseball team that does not play defense is the designated hitter.

In basketball, the teamwork of executing a fastbreak or pick-and-roll can be beautiful to watch. There's also communication involved in playing defense.

However, there are only five players on the court at the same time. Therefore, if a team has one or two superstars a team can be significantly better even if it has Larry, Curly and Moe in the lineup.

In football, there are 11 different players on offense and defense in college football and the NFL.
High school football (particularly smaller ones) has some two-way players but sheer numbers suggest that one impact player is less likely to have an impact than in baseball and basketball.
Even if a player is a star running back, he is only as good as the line that blocks for him.
If a star player is a middle linebacker, he is only as good as the defensive tackles in front of him.
If a team has a Hall-of-Fame quarterback throwing for all kinds of yards, he will not make a mediocre or below-average defense better.

Teams that fit that description might outscore mediocre teams but it won't work against better defenses.

Upon further review: All three are team sports but, for my money, football wins this argument and is a team sport to the greatest extent.

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