I write about Team Mentality a lot. I believe learning how to work together as a Team is a very critical skill we all need to master in order to be successful in family management and business organizations.
The concept of supporting a common goal, using the variety of skill sets each teammate brings to the table, and understanding why we all have to subordinate our own ambitions in order for the greater collective unit to achieve the highest degree of performance, is unparalleled in molding strong families, winning teams and effective business coalitions.
Mike Tomlin, head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers decided to offer his team a chance to work out their conflicts about whether or not to participate in the kneeling protests during the pre game National Anthem ceremony during this past Sunday’s NFL game in Chicago. He said we can either go out onto the field united, and do everything together, or we can stay in the locker room until the anthem is over. He was reported to have said, “Whatever we do we’re going to do 100%, we’re going to do together. We’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”
Good coaching principles Mike!
But Tomlin had a big problem, his team is divided. They couldn’t agree on how to proceed. So coach Tomlin told them to stay in the locker room. He knows, they have a job to do. The Steelers were not there to win political points, so stay out of this.
But one player, a former Army Ranger, Alejandro Villanueva simply could not abide by the idea that he should stand down from honoring his Ranger buddies lost or wounded during his three tours in Afghanistan. After all, they too were his teammates, but now he had only their memories to recognize. So he went out of the tunnel against coaches orders and held his hand across his heart while the crowd sang the anthem. He broke his promise to his football team in order to do the right thing for his Army Ranger teammates in battle.
The conflicting loyalties of Alejandro Villanueva are a perfect metaphor for what is troubling our culture. Some people feel like America has been good to them and they are eternally grateful for it. Some feel that America has come up short and they are perennially unhappy about it. Some people gave their life so the other people could complain. Villanueva was there. He saw some teammates take their last breath, so he could come home and make a living playing professional football.
Coach Tomlin is furious with Villanueva because he had the gall to stand against his command to stay out of the frey. He considered his actions as undermining team morale.
But isn’t what Villanueva did precisely what the whole national anthem protest is all about? Isn’t Villanueva doing what the other protestors want to do? They want to use the flag ceremony to highlight their issue about police brutality towards people of color. To show unity and support for their brothers on the civil rights front?
Villanueva used the flag ceremony to honor the dignity his Ranger teammates earned by sacrificing their lives for all of us to live in a society where we can protest all we want. Villanueva is being vilified for his decision.
I contend it is hypocritical to condemn him for choosing one set of teammates over the other, when the protesters are essentially coming from the same moral high ground. The difference is Villanueva was sharing the flag ceremony for the purpose it was intended to be used for: Honoring our country, our service members and first responders, and to celebrate the sacrifices many who came before us made so we could live in the greatest country in the history of mankind.
The purpose of the National Anthem has nothing to do with race or skin color or religious affiliation or police prejudices or whether you are a legal citizen or not. It simply honors the ideas that America represents in the timeline of world history.
The other side is hijacking the ceremony to put their civil rights complaints into the spotlight, and to cause civil disharmony to degrade and disrupt the political agenda of President Trump and the voters who elected him, who they consider to be fools. We know what the real agenda is, because these protests didn’t happen during the last administration.
Fans are speaking out across social media, and many are supportive of the protesters cause but resentful of the process. Besides, football is sacrosanct, it is meant to give us all relief from persistent bickering over politics.
As for the claims that both groups are being divisive, I am sure Tomlin has his opinion.
Now he can relate to the difficulty Trump is having trying to unify the country. But the President can’t tell everyone to stay in the locker room to avoid controversy.
If I were Trump, my next Tweet would go like this:
“Whatever we do we’re going to do 100%, we’re going to do together. We’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”