Life Lessons From Sweaty Bodies

My passion for the Kangaroos Football Club has sadly not been as fruitful this year as for fans of the Western Bulldogs and Sydney Swans. They will contest for the ultimate reward in Australian Rules Football in Saturday’s Grand Final. This great event that claims its own public holiday, provides a basis for so much that is good in Life. It show-cases a teamwork ideal that is shared around the World. To the uninitiated, there are 18 players belting around the field with an endless energy tantamount to blow-flies in a bottle. Despite what can seem like random behaviour, their coaches have planned strategies that incorporate individual skill-sets that magically act in unison towards a team goal. They also have the foresight to combat the intense individual movement and combined action of the opposition who are working in parallel on their own strategies and tactics to further confuse and enthral spectators.

Individual Intensity

The frenetic, take-take-no-prisoners approach and amazing physical requisite skills include Olympian athleticism, amazing hand-to-foot co-ordination and mystical aerial ball management. However, the participants have also studied strategies and tactics for hours every day that dominate their dreams and they exhibit phenomenal powers of concentration to execute their learnings for 120 minutes of game-time. These are then flexed on-demand as required by whatever coaching instructions are sent during the game to interrupt their muscle memory.

Exhaustion and Exuberance

At the end of the game, although some players have won and some have lost, all are exhausted from performing as well as possible. At least this time, there is longer than a week’s renewed training and scientifically individualised recuperation before the first game of the next season. The winners are exultant in their victory.

Best On-Ground Performance

Something that seems to be natural in its announcement from the awards dais, is the medal for best player on the ground. One might wonder how such an award can be allowed in an event that has its result determined by a concerted effort by all the winning players than is superior to that of the opposition. A corresponding anomaly of most team sports is that awards are struck for the player judged to best over the term of the whole season – even more confounding is that in Australian Rules this award is based upon the voting of umpires (referees) after each game when in fact, these arbiters are employed for their skills in managing the rules of the game. i.e. Their role requires a strict focus on the game per se as distinct from the umpires’ knowledge of the standard of skill and performance of players and whether they have been executing respective their game plans, of which the umpires have absolutely no knowledge. Whatever argument this might cause, it is usually the case that one or a few players seem to stand-out more than some others. And these players gain more share of media “voice”, salary and endorsements than others.


It is interesting that we consider the true champions those who are not arrogant with their anointed success but genuinely acknowledge the need, ability and assistance of their team-mates, coaches, support staff, family and friends. We can all readily draw comparisons between sporting heroes of this ilk who seem to have longevity both on the track and in the appreciative segments of our minds and those who eschew coaches and teams for the glow of their narcissism.

Just as sporting champions gain success as cogs in the well-oiled machines of their extended teams, so it is too in research, public service and business. While individuals may invent the basis for certain technologies, drugs, policies and numerous other activities, it takes teams to hone and modify them ready for implementation, let alone the actual activation in their respective environments.

The Winners’ Cup

While we have been conditioned to accept the challenge of competition in which some thrive and many even find it intoxicating, successful accomplishment is rarely without the empowerment of a greater team effort. I wonder how many people view their participation in the many facets of their life in this way.

Whether the Swans or Bulldogs are ahead at the siren on Saturday, it will take more than a few champion individual efforts no matter how sustained or mercurial, to achieve the ultimate goal.

Go Doggies!

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