The University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team is one of the most successful college sports programs in the country — The Huskies haven’t lost a game in over two years and are competing for a fifth straight national title, but UConn is finding it harder than ever to recruit talent with a strong work ethic.
Geno Auriemma, UConn Women’s Head Coach for more than 30 years, is frustrated at the prospect of trying to find enthusiastic players and had some strong word’s to say about the attitude among current athletes. Players aren’t playing for the love of the game or to support a teammate, they’re playing solely for themselves. “They haven’t even figured out which foot to use as a pivot foot, and they’re going to act like they’re really good players,” Auriemma said.
“They’re allowed to get away with just whatever, and they’re always thinking about themselves,” he said. “Me, me, me, me, me. ‘I didn’t score, so why should I be happy?’ ‘I’m not getting enough minutes; why should I be happy?’ That’s the world we live in today, unfortunately. Kids check the scoreboard sometimes because they’re going to get yelled at by their parents if they don’t score enough points. Don’t get me started.”
Auriemma made the comments during a press conference at last year’s Final Four, but they were recently shared by hitting coach Matt Lisle on Facebook. The post must’ve struck a chord because Coach Auriemma’s comments have now been viewed over 35 million times. The general consensus among coaches is that it is a combination of factors, but predominantly too much of a “me” culture in youth sports, too much parental involvement and the shifting of the focus to winning, rather than just playing.
John O’Sullivan, a former college and professional soccer player, agrees and has started the Changing the Game Project as a result. “It is our responsibility as coaches to teach kids to be humble, to be hungry and to be a great teammates. It amazes me how many coaches ignore this responsibility because a player’s talent might lead to a win.”
Larry Robin, a father of two in Westfield, New Jersey, says he see the same mentality in the workplace, too. “While I can’t ‘bench’ people at work, I can tell you that the people who move up in my world are almost always the people who are smart and have really good attitudes. Those are my all-stars as well!”
If you have children that play sport, sit down with them together and watch what Coach Auriemma has to say, because attitude goes way farther than talent can ever take you.