Wednesday, January 2, 2008

What Makes a Good Team?

Apologies in advance for attempting to introduce an intellectual discussion into a sports blog, but bear in mind, we were very drunk at the time this originally happened.

Mickos (my MAIT partner in crime), myself, and five other dwarves (long story) were on a plane to Wales to watch the Wallabies play the Welsh in a rugby test match. It was in celebration of the birthdays for myself and my brother in law, which happen to fall on the same day. We'd arrived at the airport a couple of hours early and needless to say, we all made a bee-line to the bar. About twelve rounds later we managed to get ourselves on the plane and were on our way.

Mickos and I were easing into a couple of in-flight refreshments and, as we tend to do this many beers in, started an intellectual (in most cases, this term fits rather loosely) discussion on some aspect of sport. On this occassion the topic was "what makes a 'good' team?", and my explanation ended up coming out pretty well so I thought I'd share it here.

The angle I was coming from actually started because I was reading a book on Zen Buddhism (longer story), called "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Anyway, we started out by thinking about it as the qualities of the team itself (leadership, quick thinking, mental toughness etc.), but it quickly became apparent that the "goodness" of a team can't be measured objectively like this. The reason is that a team that displays these desirable qualities on one level (for example, the champions of the local state or province), when compared to a team chosen for a higher level (say, for the national side), they're not that "good" anymore. Is it then a matter of perception? Well not really, because there are some teams that are generally accepted as good (certain Australian cricket teams, USA basketball teams, New Zealand rugby teams etc. are accepted by everyone as being "good").

Well where the hell did that leave us (and flight attendant can we have two more beers over here)? "Goodness" then is neither a direct quality of the team, nor directly attributable to perception. One drunken epiphany later and I (a little too loudly) came up with my own explanation: goodness isn't subjective or objective, but is found in the relationship between the two - it actually lies at the dimensionless point at which subject and object meet!

There you have it then, the "goodness" of a team is actually an event rather than a characteristic. It's the event at which the subject becomes fully aware of the object. I'm going to have to give this a little more thought, but it seems to work reasonably well and lines up with some other aspects of philosophy. Anyway, if you've read this far and have any thoughts of your own let me know.

I'll stop channeling Lao Tzu (for now) and get back to watching some more sport and swilling some local lager.

That's how I'm seeing it.


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