February 19, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 78  

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Sports leaders a different breed

By David Lee
Gazette Staff

It’s too bad sports fans are caught up with winning all the time.

In a pursuit where statistics are often the sole measure of success, it is ironically the intangible qualities possessed by an athlete that can make him or her a great leader. Being a leader in sports requires a different mentality than leading elsewhere, and while winning is a part of that, it’s not the only part — not by a long shot.

Sports leaders needs to be extremely dynamic, since the situation they are faced with is always fluid. Though pre-game preparation is necessary, sport leaders are often required to motivate their teammates to perform at the highest level in the face of staggering odds. Even within amateur sports, leaders are an integral part of any championship-calibre team.

Sports leaders need to be inspiring. When the chips are down or the game is on the line, they need to be able to turn the tides, right the ship or enact any other sports cliché. Teammates need to be able to look to their leaders in times of trouble and find the confidence in their face.

However, a leader doesn’t have to be the best player on a team. Many professional teams have realized this and have leaders who are instead admirable for other characteristics, such as drive, passion, grit and determination.

Within the NHL, captaincy is very important to a team, and those named captain consider it an honour. Again, the captain is not always the most skilled player, but is the person that will always give his best, play hard and back up any teammate.

More than anything, a sports leader must lead by example. Whereas a business leader can delegate tasks or a politician can lead by image, a sports leader needs to produce results. Though it might not always be a game-winning goal, leading by example can also be embodied by playing through pain, playing solid defense or doing the little things right.

Those who are effective leaders within sports often ply their skills elsewhere, though they are sometimes misunderstood outside of sports as unintelligent or unrefined. Regardless, a sports leader is at his or her best when they put their money where their mouth is.



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