Performance Versus Potential · 23 August 2014
As people prepare for a new football season, I pause to wonder what armchair managers think about what the Seattle Seahawks did in the offseason.
After the NBA draft, I had to wonder about the status of professional sports. Top picks were made from kids not even in their twenties yet. There were kids who became millionaire athletes without even stepping onto a court. Apparently, it is all about potential. Do not get me wrong. I do not begrudge those people their money or fame. I just wonder about the message it sends. I wonder how many people see pro sports as an analogy for life. I wonder how many young people think they are entitled to a good job just because somebody told them they have potential.
As foolhardy as paying untested athletes may seem to the average sports fan, it is even more incredible to me that professional soccer teams sign kids who do not even have two digit ages. I remember reading about one of the premiere teams in Spain signing a seven-year old and a Dutch team signing a toddler who it seemed to me could barely walk (See Real Madrid). Real Madrid was ready to put the seven-year old into their soccer player making machine, where he would learn to be a professional soccer player and hopefully how to read and write. At least that is what my jaded mind was thinking when I read the article a few years ago.
Which brings me back to the Seahawks.
It seems to me that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have the right formula. The general manager and head coach are willing to pay talent. But only once it has manifested itself. They are not willing to throw good money at potential. They are old school. They want to know what they are getting for their money.
Schneider and Carroll also take intangibles into consideration when they sign players. They want people who will fit their scheme. They want players who will add to the mystical thing called team chemistry. They know that players who are disciplined and will work as a team are the ones who will succeed. They know that doing things right and getting the job done will create wins. And they are willing to hunt for the players who can subvert their own goals for those of the team. They do pay top dollar for top players. As long as they are willing to be part of the team.
I have been a jaded professional sports fan for many years. Much of it stems from the perception that the identity of a team becomes the identity of a superstar. With football, that is usually the quarterback rather than any defensive player.
Call me old fashioned, but I miss the days of the No Name Defense in Miami and The Orange Crush in Denver. I miss the days of dominant defenses in the NFL. Which is why I am rooting for the Seahawks. I like that Schneider and Carroll place a premium on a dominant defense.
And, of course, a really good offense.
As an armchair manager, I like the moves that the Seahawks have made. I like that they have a great offense to go with the best defense in the league. I like that they recognize greatness when it is proven rather than paying for potential. I like that Schneider, Carroll, and Company want to put together the best team that they can instead of piecing together a hodgepodge of players to complement a superstar. I am not sure what other armchair managers think, but I like what the Seahawks have done in the offseason to get ready for some football.
© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Published 31 July 2014 in Take 2 | The Seattle Times
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