Selfishness and the Benefits of Team Shoes

Posted: October 2, 2016 in Opinion, Sports, Things I Love

I posted a photo of Cam Newton’s pregame choice of footwear today, and a few people wondered why I didn’t like them. Well, number one they’re butt-ass ugly:


And number two, if those atrocities don’t scream “look at me” I don’t know what does. Was Cam not hugged enough as a child or something? Good Lord.

Look, I know I’m in the rapidly shrinking minority here, the game has changed, blah-blah-blah. You wanna know something?

I don’t care.

To me, it’s still a team game, and in my opinion anything that sets you apart from your team is a bad thing. But hey, it’s the pros, where the athlete has more power than the coach.*

*Usually. I don’t see any of Bill Belichick’s Patriots wearing any wild attire that sets them apart from their teammates. On a related note, New England has been to six Super Bowls since 2002 and have won four. 

But back to shoes. As a high school coach, it’s a whole different situation at my level. My team is one of the few who still buy team shoes. I’m lucky in that my parents and administration understand why we do this, and I also know some coaches who aren’t so lucky.

A lot of parents would say things like, “My kid can wear whatever the hell he wants to wear! If I want to buy him a pair of $1471.00 Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost Glows, then damn it, I’m going to. My kid deserves it!”

But seriously, those shoes cost $1471.00.

Anyway, yes, you’re welcome to buy little Isaac those shoes, he just won’t be wearing them on our basketball team.

Why, you ask? Well, there are a few reasons, among them being the fact that if everyone is uniform in their appearance, it helps foster team unity and the fact that we’re all in this together. It helps develop a cohesiveness, ya know?

Also, if one guy is wearing a pair 0f $275.00 Nikes and another is wearing a pair of $55.00 Asics it’s just a bad deal all-around. Some players simply can’t afford the really nice shoes. Little things like that can lead to trouble down the road.

Therefore, what we do is choose a nice but affordable shoe that everyone can afford. And if they can’t, we have a few generous Bearcat fans that will help out along with an agreement they will be paid back. Remember my story entitled “Trusting Robbie“? That sort of explains things nicely.

Finally, damn it, it just looks better. As I alluded to before, when we’re all uniform in appearance it helps us to look like an organized, well disciplined team. Same for our tradition of dressing up and wearing ties to away games as well as wearing our Bearcat traveling gear to home games.

It’s a team thing, man. You sacrifice together as a team. Plus, the more little sacrifices you make for your squad, the more you have invested. And the more you have invested, the more you care about our team and our basketball program.

One final point to my story. Years ago I was at the Ohio State Basketball Tournament and a scout from a mid-major college sat down beside me. We began talking, and he told me he was there to watch a particular player, one I happened to be somewhat familiar with since he played in a county adjoining ours. As the teams came out to warm up he looked down at the court, pointed, and we had this conversation:

“That’s not him with the orange shoes is it?”

Sure enough, the player he was thinking of recruiting was the only player on his team to wear bright orange shoes. Every other player on his team wore white. At that point I reluctantly responded:

Yep, that’s him.”

With that the coach closed his notebook, slid it under his seat, and sat back to watch the game.

He wasn’t interested, precisely for the reasons I wrote above. He didn’t want a selfish player, and those shoes told him all he needed to know about the kid.

So anyway, this week I’ll get my seniors and returning lettermen together, they’ll pick out our shoes, and that’s what every player in our program in grades 7-12 will wear. And when the young guys get older it’ll be their turn to choose.

Bottom line, if a player doesn’t like the policy then they must feel they’re more important than the team and we probably don’t want them anyway.

Make sense?


Gimme a holler.

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