If You Work Hard, Do You "Deserve" a Reward?

Ever since I’ve evolved to like the life of the mind more than the life of the athlete, I’ve worked to keep my basketball career intellectually stimulating. One key component of this is my role as captain.

Last season things were going terribly and a lot of people had their own personal gripes/complaints/questions about a whole host of things. I found myself fielding late night calls from guys wondering why they weren’t getting playing time, and secondarily, what I thought about the team’s prospects going forward.

I have serious reservations about the college process, but the one good thing that comes out of it is it ensures that most students will work really really hard during high school and then "fail" by not getting into their #1 choice. For overachievers, this is a critical experience, because our whole life you’re indoctrinated with a falsehood: "Work hard, and you can do anything." (And I posit it’s SO much better to fail NOW than endure the mid-life crisis that David Brooks anticipates will happen to my generation in a big way.)

In basketball, it’s the same way. People assume that if you put in the time and effort, there should be a personal reward (playing time – it’s hard to look beyond yourself, no matter how well the team does). I was trying to articulate this to a teammate a week ago. Even at the high school basketball level, four years of blood, sweat, and tears doesn’t guarantee shit. It should guarantee an opportunity to prove yourself, but after that, it’s about putting the most competitive 5 on the court.

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