Football isn’t just a game; more specifically, it’s a competitive sport. And the object of a competitive sport is to win. To win games, to win championships. If you’re not winning, then you’re not doing well enough. And anybody participating in a competitive sport should want to be a winner without being told that they should want to win, or how important it is to win.
The National Football League is full of adults. Largely young adults, admittedly. But they understand the concept of winning and losing, and the majority of them have been playing football most of their lives. They probably have some sort of opinion about winning. At this stage of the game, nobody should need to be motivated to try to win games.
That’s what Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said yesterday when he was asked about how the team can change its messaging to better reach the young players on the roster. It’s nobody’s job at this level to get people to want to win. It’s part of your own job to have that motivation.
“You know what? If you have to give guys a message at this point in the year with where we are, then maybe it’s time you get guys in there that don’t need a message”, he said, pretty pointedly. “People need to understand what this is about”.
The Steelers are sitting at 5-5-1 after dropping their last two games and tying a winless Lions team. They are now outside of a playoff position, and they have the most difficult schedule remaining, including two games against the Baltimore Ravens and contests against the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“Like I said, hopefully we don’t have to say much, but just reminding guys that the little things matter”, he said a bit later when asked to elaborate more on how they can better communicate the messaging. “Little details, just things like being early to practice or early to walkthroughs, early to meetings. Just the little details are always important”.
But one thing you should not have to do is to preach about the stakes of a game and what a win or a loss means. Every win is huge. Every loss is huge, at least unless you’re at the end of the regular season with no postseason stakes to play for relative to the division and seeding.
Honestly, this is how I’ve always felt about these topics, including things like ‘bulletin board material’. If there are guys who need that sort of stuff to play to their fullest capabilities, then why are they there in the first place? Shouldn’t you always be giving maximum effort to be trying to do your job? Do you need to be told to try hard?