Teamwork: Who wants it – Who needs it?

In my Book, Plato and Socrates: Baseball’s Wisest Fans, the two enigmatic ancient Greek philosophers ponder the many elements that make Baseball their favorite Pastime, but also thoughtfully point out ways in which it could be even better. The following is the final chapter of the Book.

Socrates and Plato


Chapter 12

The Deed is Done!

“Socrates, what is your perspective on the prospect of resolving the apparent conflicts which seem to have prevailed since Baseball’s inception? Beneath the evolution of its undisturbed periphery, deep questions of impropriety have gone virtually undetected, or unacknowledged, by a complacent ‘unexamined’ mentality!”

Socrates pauses to consider Plato’s question and exclamation, then remarks, “There does not seem to be an adequate sense of ‘teamwork,’ the very essence marking the intricate design of the ‘Activity’ itself, between all parties involved in the network of organizational integration.” To which, Plato responds with lamentable refrain, “If mankind could get by without ‘teamwork,’ very few would concede an actual desire to depend upon others for any part of their livelihood or existence. Independence and individuality seem inherently at odds with the concepts of mutual acceptance of and tolerance for one another’s human pre-dispositions.”

Socrates tempers Plato’s lamentation with, “However, the climb of civilization out of the miry depths of chaos into its current state of universal integration was predicated on man’s ability to function as co-inhabitants and world-wide ‘team players’.”

“Certainly those individuals who participate in team sports are considered prime prospects for espousing the concept of working together for a common good,” affirms Plato. “Teamwork in sports can be construed as a strategy by which team members try to unify their individual efforts to promote a higher and collective goal of winning a particular prize that all players must share,” he confirms.

Socrates adds that, “The real essence of teamwork is a factor of compatibility from which an apparent challenging situation may gain a solution through cooperative endeavor. Compatibility is a substantive alliance between two or more distinct entities to promote harmony. Cooperation is the only feasible means to procure and establish an effective sense of Teamwork! Uncooperative participants are incompatible with the high goal of achieving a unified sense of teamwork. Inability to cooperate with high moral and ethical standards and practices would jeopardize the foundational structure of the ‘Team’.”

“It seems you’ve remembered one of the main tenets of my major written works,” Plato accepts as flattery. “As certainly as universal harmony would be an aspiring goal of world-wide teamwork, so it could be instigated by the examples set at any of the simple and modest levels of current athletic competition by the participants whose minds are set for such an ambitious endeavor,” he eloquently completed.

So, the newly formed co-op for ‘conflict resolution’ begins another search, a tangent to the other but destined eventually to coincide with the original. “Let us be creative and think about what it would take to establish a team of such remarkably cooperative individuals that the spirit of love, camaraderie, and success, would no doubt permeate the entire environment and eliminate any hostile element of personal or communal dissent,” encourages Socrates.

Plato responds, as would any enthusiastic student, to an intriguing enterprise, “Let’s see! What would it take to begin such a revolutionary entrepreneurial venture? Would it not first take the philanthropic concern of an enterprising executive(s) (owners) whose love of the game supersedes the traditional ‘bottom-line’ mentality of most ‘Entertainment Czars’?”

Socrates mentally recalls the recent acquisition of a prominent Team in Los Angeles with just those very promising credentials, as he interjects, “This unusual breed of ‘Benevolent Benefactor’ (reflective of your own Philosopher King, or statesmen), would he not have to be a multi-billionaire whose livelihood didn’t depend upon receipts garnered at the turnstiles?” “Or, he’d have to be a person of enormous faith in the other-worldly, intangible concept of ‘… what blesses one, blesses all, and vice-versa,’ as posited by our beloved metaphysical colleague, M.B.E.,” proposed Plato, without an iota of cynicism!

“His investment would be based completely on the sound and unwavering belief that ‘Good’ is the source and emanation of an honorable and worthwhile endeavor– the ‘seed within itself’,” as Plato recalled of a scripture. “His intent would have to embody the thinking of our nineteenth century visionary whose every project enlisted the contemplation of her original textbook words, ‘… right motives give pinions to thought and strength and freedom to speech and action’,” insisted Socrates.

“So these prospective ‘Men-of-Vision’ might first want to set their sights on providing to ‘the community’ a team of ballplayers that works its ‘Magic’ with exemplary character and athletic abilities that would instill pride and comfort, on and off the ball field, into the hearts and minds of its adoring fans,” Plato envisioned aloud.

“Secondly, the General Managerial position, Field Manager, Farm-Director, and other administrative assistants would have to incorporate the astute personnel-profiling tools that would enlist only those individuals whose aims and goals were compatible with those of the administrative web (not hierarchy), and whose athletic talents warranted their being part of the big-league ‘Team’,” Socrates continued after hopeful reverie.

“Thirdly,” promoted Plato, “since selfishness, greed, and flagrant unseemly behavior on and off the field are counter-productive to meritorious service and community well being, ball-players should be drafted, chosen, or solicited first on the basis of their character, then on athletic ability.” “Would not this standard almost seem too radical for contemporary agencies for scouting talent,” queries Socrates? “However, character-building credentials could easily translate to skill development, if the instructional aspect of the Organization is under the supervision of an administrator with impeccable understanding of the mechanical principles applicable to the ‘game,’ like our JFP, or another of such qualifications”, reminds Plato. “Is there anyone else with such a credential,” asks Socrates, incredulously?

“So! Since optimal physical skills would not be essential at first, and strong moral and ethical character would be a ‘must,’ the rationale for this revolutionary presumption is that, since (righteous) thought precedes (controlled) action, technique for superlative functioning is easier taught to one with a sound and principled work ethic,” Plato paraphrases JFP.

“It would seem that Team Unity in a professional sports Organization must incorporate a mutually caring and considerate relationship between the players and the assistant-administrative personnel, and the executive administrators, not unlike the supportive sentiments in the Republic, and Laws, as proposed by a renowned contemporary of my own,” quips Socrates admiringly at his flushing protégé!

Plato, graciously accepting his patron’s acclamations, submits, “Each entity has at least an indirect influence on the success and well-being of the others. However the executive branch of the Organization wishes to handle the varying accommodations, acknowledgment of this subtle fact must always be under consideration, namely, ‘You are only as strong as your weakest link’.”

Socrates then makes a casual biblical reference to a man named Paul whose certain epistles confirm that not a single part of the body should be taken for granted, abused, or in anyway not cared for as the rest, even those commonly considered inferior or less honorable. One verse, states, “…if the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? The head cannot say of the feet, I have no need of thee.” “The man is well acclaimed and note-worthy in all his discourses,’ assures Plato!

Plato continues, “The Web of organizational tactics, discipline, and dissimulation should start from the center where the executive offices feed outwardly in concentric order to those who carry out essential duties according to their respective positions within the network. The ball-players hold the most enviable position at the peripheral end of the web, where most attention is paid by outside observers. The glamour aspect of professional sports is augmented by the high-profile notoriety of prominent personalities and the extreme celebrity status of ‘star’ performers.”

Socrates quickly asserts, “Although an individual’s monetary worth should be commensurate to the actual relative value he provides to the team, no one should be paid such an exorbitant amount so as to create an unnecessary dissention among personnel of slightly inferior ability. One player does not a team make.” To which Plato postfixes, “And, with regard to the wisdom elicited by the rhetoric of JFP, I conclude, ‘once it is established that the secret of success (even in Baseball) is not predicated on the predisposed, abundant abilities of the so-called ‘natural-ballplayer,’ but in learned and assimilated techniques taught to those receptive and humble minds willing to expand current horizons, public scrutiny will no longer have to cater to the egotistical whims of selfish non-compliant players, and ego-centric lives of arrogant ‘glory-hounds’.”

And in summation, Socrates dispenses an anecdotal resolution to this depiction of a great ideal gone awry. “Begin again, at the beginning! But, this time, start the entire venture by following an absolute Principle, and derive the blessed benevolence, spoken of with profound succinctness, by our distinguished metaphysician, when she reflected this divinely inspired thought, ‘to begin rightly, is to end rightly’.”

The End

Post Script: Ecclesiastes: 9: 14 – 16

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