Being part of a team

Published on: February 7, 2019

Positive Talk

Whenever I use sports analogies, it turns some people off, but sports are a microcosm of life. Microcosm being from the Greek mikros kosmos : mikros, small + kosmos, world. Sports are a parallel world small enough for us to study and from which to learn some important lessons. Today, let’s look at the world of sports and see what can be learned about being a team player in the game of life.

• Play your position. Each player has an assignment. It may be to cover a specific area of the playing field, pay attention to a certain opponent, run interference for another player or just be at a designated point at the right time. When players leave their assigned areas, collisions with other players can do real damage. Losing track of the competition when it is your job to watch them can be disastrous. Being out of position when others are counting on you to be there can result in many dropped balls. As an example, last summer I watched a shortstop make a great stop, wheel around and throw the ball to first. With uncanny accuracy, the ball went like a shot right to first base. It then bounced into the fence and careened into the outfield. A great play was ruined, and the winning run scored, all because the first baseman was out of position. The first rule of any team player is to know his or her position and to be there when needed.

• Know your competition. Athletes in all sports know the value of watching game videos. Pitchers can tell by watching them how some batters will set up for either solid hits or bunts, and batters can learn the kind of pitch that might be coming at them just from the way a pitcher prepares and delivers the pitch. Boxers watch videos to find out when the opponent drops his guard or how he might telegraph his punches. I once watched a play-off game along with an entire team that was sitting in the bleachers and making notes on the actions of a team they would face in a later round. The team that took the time to observe and make notes won the match, and one of the victorious players told me that the personal scouting did a lot to make the victory possible. You may not have videos of your competitors off the field, but you can collect their printed materials; you can talk with others about their methods of operation; and you can learn about their products and/or services.

• Be as versatile as possible. Some of the greatest players in sports history were not great just because they played one position well, but because the team could call on them to play a number of positions. Babe Ruth pitched, batted and played the outfield. Johnny Bench was a great catcher, but he also led the league in home runs twice and RBIs three times. To be a greater asset to your team, take the time to learn some of the other positions. Start with the one that directly affects you. If one of them cannot perform, could you pick up the slack? If you can, you will be recognized for your value to the team.

• Never forget that it is a team, and everyone’s contributions are required for success. If it were not for the second string that shows up for scrimmages, the first string could not sharpen their skills. That star quarterback would not walk so tall if the guards and tackles missed their assignments. No matter what your position on the team, take credit for the team’s success. I think this is an important thing for team leaders to remember when they are passing out kudos. Never forget to acknowledge the people who showed up to play but might be forgotten by the fans—or management for that matter.

Life is one of the greatest games of all, and it is more fun to play if you are a team player. Play ball.

William Hodges is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. Locally, he hosts an interview-format television program, Spotlight on Government on the Tampa Bay Community Network. He also hosts a Sun Radio show — Veterans Corner (schedule below) — for military veterans and their families. This show can be listened to at 96.3 FM or online at at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He can be contacted by email:

Veterans Corner schedule for February on WSCQ 96.3

Veterans Corner radio show, hosted by Bill Hodges on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. on  WSCQ FM 96.3 Sun Radio, or listen online at


5 & 19Manuel A. Guevara Ruiz, Manager Veterans’ & Peers’ Initiatives Crisis Center of Tampa Bay

Whether you are depressed or one that you love is the person who needs help, it all starts with a phone call to 211. This crisis line is there for you and is staffed 24/7 with people qualified to help anyone with a problem.

7Andrea Hutchins, Manager of Communications and Marketing Hiring Our Heroes

Need a job or know a vet or a vet’s spouse looking for a job? Listen in to hear about their Job Fair on Feb. 22 at the Amalie Arena.

12Mike O’Dell, President of Veterans Helping Veterans.

Mike has dedicated most of his life to making sure veterans are given the help that the red tape agencies cannot give.

14 — Joel Laborde, M.D., Section Chief, Community Care James A Haley Veterans Hospital

If you are a vet who depends on VA medical care, what happens if you find yourself in a civilian hospital? Dr. Laborde has the answer to this.

21Jan Basssett, SCC DAR Chapter Regent

Colonel George Mercer Brooke Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is a vital part of our military community. Listen and learn what they do. 

26John M. Rosentrater, Director Sarasota National Cemetery

Part Two about our national cemeteries. Learn about your benefits now.

28Major Robert Ura, Commander District 4, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office

Major Ura discusses recent changes in qualifications for deputies as they apply to former military personnel applying for a position with HCSO. 

Replays are generally on Tuesdays following their original play date on Thursday.