Monday, October 11, 2010, 9:38 a.m.
By Ron Thompson
Basketball season has begun, and with it, another year of high expectations based on practice and preparation. While games won't be played for a few weeks, teams are revving up.
I have noticed recently that some players from the high school to the professional ranks seem to be missing a key ingredient toward their sports: a fundamentally sound work ethic.
To me, many of today's young athletes seem lacking a sturdy framework that supports their talent, and helps build skills toward becoming exceptional students, athletes, owners, or executives. Simply put, many players or coaches don't seem willing (or able) to "grind." Why?
Is it poor conditioning; lack of motivation; insufficient rest? Could the lax approach by some simply represent a generational shift? Has the definition of hard work changed? Why are some athletes given gold stars for minimal achievement after giving minimal effort?
It appears that some coaches are allowing players to give bare effort instead of producing to capacity. Players who hustle (or "grind") are now seen as rarities, or exceptions. Seeing players give their fullest efforts was once the norm.
Hard work is indeed hard work. Some AAU coaches have filled their players with delusions of grandeur; the NBA often drafts players based on potential rather than actual performance. Those players must be sure that they're not short-changing their prospective employers, their core supporters, and, most importantly, themselves. Praise for potential corrodes many teams from within, leading parents, coaches, and players to have a false sense of success.
This air of entitlement frustrates me to no end; it invades spaces from home to office, classroom to the basketball court. It could be problematic for anyone who tries to address that issue, which may explain why some coaches, employers, or teachers get resistance from players, workers, or students when they try to correct unproductive effort. Does that then result in these authority figures ignoring problems, or even lowering expectations? Do some coaches lower their players' expectations as a consequence of having lowered their own?
People cannot simply be told about hard work; they must have a tangible definition.
We must be mindful that hard work is often defined by those who come before us.
Hard work defines itself. Ask Kobe.