You’ve probably seen by now Jeff Walz’s press conference after No. 7 Louisville’s recent loss to No. 5 Maryland. The Cardinals are 7-2 this season with both losses coming over fellow ranked opponents – but that’s not good enough.
“You went home a loser, and then you worked at it if you wanted to be good.”
Walz was fired up following Thursday’s (Dec. 1) 78-72 setback to the Terrapins. He sounded off on the ‘trophy kids’ generation where everybody is a winner and went on to express his frustrations about “the society we’re preparing for.”
Any competitor or coach has likely echoed or experienced similar frustrations – Walz just said it out loud and on a public platform. I have never been a college coach. But as a former player, and someone who has spent a lot of time in the college athletics world, I have played witness to similar attitudes.
I was one of them. I was one of those kids who thought I deserved more playing time. At 18-years-old, I couldn’t see past my own selfish intentions. Bluntly put: I did not get it. Thankfully, though, I had people who told me to suck it up.
“You have to work to be great.”
I had people like Jeff Walz telling me to roll up my sleeves and go to work, and for that reason, I had one of the absolute best student-athlete experiences over a five-year span. College basketball isn’t supposed to be easy. Winning is HARD, which means the means of getting there is also HARD.
That’s where we fall short. Why do you think players transfer without even giving it a chance? The easy, comfortable path is valued more than patience and persistence. What these same players also don’t realize is that what is at the end of an easy, comfortable path isn’t nearly as rewarding as what is at the end of the latter.
“You figured out a way.”
I wish I had answers for why our society is so afraid to step on toes and accept that not everybody can be a winner. We don’t all get trophies. There is no friendship bracket as Walz brilliantly put it. Are the kids themselves to blame? Absolutely. But so, too, are the people who enable kids to play the victim.
To me, the only way to debunk this “trophy” generation is to take on a Jeff Walz mindset. But one step further, swallowing your pride for the greater good of the team. Do you know how many problems could be solved if every player to play the game focused on the team? Suddenly playing time and the stat sheet – other than the win column – are irrelevant.
“You’ve got to have a will.”
What our society is really missing are more team players; more people who show up to practice or work and just get busy to make everyone around them better; more people who couldn’t care less about personal gain if it means the team is winning.
Instead, we are engulfed by a vicious cycle of entitlement and self-pity. This alone detracts us from loving the game and loving the people going through the same exact trials and tribulations we are.
I wish a team-first mentality was the nucleus of our society, but it is far from it. The nucleus of our society is indeed becoming what Jeff Walz talks about. But it’s fixable if we have the will to fix it. It’s fixable if winning and the team is important enough. It’s fixable if we not only love the game, but respect it.