Coach Vince Lombardi and His Philosophy Is Winning everything?
Winning isn’t everything it’s the only thing” is a harsh reality in today’s dog eats dog society. Vince Lombardi the author of this quote was a football coach who took the worst team in the league, the Green Bay Packers, and made them into a perennial powerhouse. He was and still is considered to be one of the best coaches ever to coach in the sport of football. His statement holds true in today’s game because it is both the athlete’s and the coach’s goal to be the best in their profession. Other coaches who are still coaching developed similar philosophies about sport ” winning isn’t all that matters. I don’t care how many games you win, it’s how many championships you win that counts.” (Messner P46) All athletes, who play sports, play for that chance to be a champion. Not only do athletes and organizations strive to be number one, but so do those in the ‘real world’ that work everyday jobs. People in the workforce also strive to be the best at their jobs because with success comes rewards. This may be a selfish reason to be successful but without it, the world would not be as advanced as it is today.
Many sources were used in order to fully understand what Vince Lombardi really stood for. A very helpful source used was ESQUIRE magazine. It included an article printed in 1997 entitled “When football mattered”, by David Maraniss. This article described Lombardi’s coaching style and how the players respected him and how he respected his players. Athletes who have played for Lombardi spoke on how his coaching philosophy helped them become better players and better people. The article also spoke of how Lombardi lived for football and how he thought about it constantly.
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This article was a key component of this essay because it expresses how the athletes felt about their coach and how the coach treated his players. The official Vince Lombardi website was another useful source. Vince Lombardi Jr. set up this site. It gave the reader a summary of the many achievements Vince Lombardi achieved throughout his coaching career. There was also a brief review of his famous speech “What it takes to be no. 1”. The speech explained how Lombardi thought football should be played and the discipline, commitment, and sacrifice that was needed to be number one.
The Toronto sun also proved to be a valuable source for this paper. The article in the January 25, 1997 edition of the Toronto Sun explained the road to success for the Green Bay packers and gave an insight into how Vince Lombardi could take an average team and make them a serious contender. Another site that proved useful in determining what kind of man Vince Lombardi really was the Barnes and Noble site. It offered a book review of his personal biography. This revealed what kind of man was actually beneath this rough exterior. A novel call Power at Play by Michael A. Messner was another very good source. This book provided other useful statements made by Lombardi on the importance of winning. Many Lombardi supporters stated their opinions on winning also.
This book also had statements from those who did not support Lombardi’s theory and it gave the ethical implications of why they did not. This provided the argument necessary to the essay. The other source used in this paper was an Internet site called Southendzone.com. It was created by the Green Bay Packers in order for their fans to be able to examine the history of the organization. This site contained many facts about Vince Lombardi and the many achievements he had. This site provided some much-needed information in determining why he felt so passionate to the game of football, and why his players respected his theory. Each of these sources can prove that Vince Lombardi’s statement of “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” is still very fitting in today’s society.
For Vince Lombardi, there was no room for second place. He viewed winning as an all-the-time thing. He said “You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.” (Southendzone.com) This is the cold hard truth about professional sports. If your team is not winning then your team is losing money because the fans will not support a losing team. For organizations to be successful the players must strive to be the best at what they do.
Many teams that have been favourites to win championships have lost because they are not willing to work at winning. A good example of this is the 1999 New York Rangers. This is a team that should have won the Stanley Cup. They will be lucky to make the playoffs. This is why in sports you have to compete at the highest level because it is the difference between winning and losing. How much work you put into it while you were competing also determines how successful you will be. This is why Vince Lombardi pushed his athletes to win. If Vince Lombardi had sat back and not pushed his players to win, it would have been disrespectful to all the players and to the game of football as well.
The negative of Lombardi’s ideology is that most people do not succeed at what they are doing and it brings along a feeling of failure lowered self-esteem and problems with interpersonal relationships. This is a tremendous negative to Lombardi’s beliefs. However, it is still positive to push people to succeed. For those that do succeed it is worth it.
What Vince Lombardi taught his players by disciplining them was to focus on winning. He treated all his players differently. He knew some needed to be motivated by being yelled and others required their space. He was seen as an adept psychologist ” he rode some players hard but stayed away from others, depending on how they responded.” (Maraniss, Esquire 1997, P82) Another example is when Travis Williams danced a jig after scoring a touchdown and Lombardi called him over and said, ” try to act like you have been in the endzone before.” (Maraniss Esquire 1997, P83) That is all he had to say and the player got the message. This is because he was so respected by his players. Nowadays if a coach asks a player to do something they refuse to do it. The coaches are too nice to the players now and if a coach happens to get angry with a player the media makes the coach look bad. The Bobby Knight story is a perfect example.
He has a similar coaching style to that of Lombardi’s. Both of these men demand respect from their players. This is a very important point for people who do not play sports to understand. When a coach is constantly screaming it seems very negative and ruthless but in most instances, it is for the players own good. Coaches, as motivation use yelling. This is why Lombardi would yell at his players. It is not because he hated the athletes it was because he knew they were capable of being better. In fact, quite the opposite is true of Lombardi ” he loved the players above all else, yet circumstances would force him to turn away from them.”
(Maraniss Esquire 1997, P82) For a coach to care so much about his players is such a rare and wonderful thing. This is the type of mentality that sets Vince Lombardi apart from so many other coaches. When a coach cares this much about his players it means he has an emotional attachment to his team that will only make the team a stronger unit. A lot of people in our society think that the coaches are demeaning the athletes by screaming and yelling at them when all they are trying to do is get the best out of each and every athlete. There are some coaches who demean the athletes and that is a problem. People like that should not be coaching. This is not what Vince Lombardi was doing. He would yell at only those who were motivated by his yelling, the other players he would just speak to. He pushed these men to be better players. By disciplining them and by pushing them so hard he made them better players and more importantly better people.
A negative to this type of philosophy is that it makes those who compete hard and do not succeed feel very negatively about themselves. For those who gave it their all and happened to come upon the losing end of the game, they should not feel badly, they should be happy that they played their hearts out. This is the obstacle faced by Lombardi’s theory of winning at all costs because it says second place is for losers. Although losing is no fun, if you played your hardest there is no reason to be ashamed of losing.
In the sporting industry teams or individual players are judged by their performance. There are trophies in every league for the most valuable player (MVP) and for the best team. They were created so those players could have a goal to achieve each and every time they competed. If success were not rewarded people would not try to become better. Many coaches including Vince Lombardi feel that you should ” never be satisfied with your performance”(Messner P46) because it is believed that humans are capable of getting better through hard work. The theory of pushing yourself to get better is very important and does not only hold true in the sports world it is also important for those in the business sector. If doctors gave up looking for cures to diseases would society accept it? The answer is no. The same holds true for athletes. If they are not trying then they are cheating the fans and themselves.
This is what Vince Lombardi refused to let happen. He made sure his players were ready to play and if they weren’t he would get them ready. Vince would tell his teams that ” you never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you. The score on the board doesn’t mean a thing. That’s for the fans. You’ve got to win the war with the man in front of you. You’ve got to get your man.” (www.cmgww.com) This is a very important statement because it is true in the real world also. To be the best you must compete against others, and if you want to come out on top you must work harder than the other person must. Vince is saying that on the field you have to win the one-on-one battles against your opponent, if you don’t you are not trying hard enough. These are the types of statements that Vince taught his players to be better than the rest, to set higher standards for themselves and to strive for excellence.
Sometimes it is impossible to win and this is something Vince Lombardi would not accept. If they were playing a stronger team he would not use it as an excuse he would expect his team to win all the time. Even if the players felt they were not as good as the other team they would still try their best to win. The reality is ” that behind his seemingly quaint notions of spartan discipline, team love, and obedience to the leader, he was surprisingly adaptable.” (Esquire 1997, P82) His philosophy relied on adaptability above all else, reacting to conditions quickly enough to bend things his way. All he wanted was for all his teams to be champions. It is all right for coaches to have high expectations for their teams and athletes but to look down on a team because they finished second is not right. Because sports are so competitive and getting more competitive each year the chances of winning every year are nearly impossible.
In conclusion, by reading this paper it can be seen that having a coach such as Vince Lombardi has both its negatives and its positives. Focusing purely on winning and not the enjoyment of the sport can be harmful in many ways but it can also be very helpful to an athlete’s performance. There is a healthy mix of fun and winning that must be met. Focusing only on winning can push the athlete away from the sport very quickly. If athletes are not enjoying what they are doing then they will want to quit playing and go into early retirement. The reason athletes begin to play sports is because of the pure enjoyment of the game. So if the element of fun is taken away and they do not enjoy playing anymore then no salary amount will keep them in the game. Even though Vince was hard on his players he made sure the players still enjoyed playing. It was never his goal to push players out of football he just wanted them all to be winners.
The players learned very quickly that with a coach like Vince coaching your team you had better show up to play each and every night or else he will be all over you with negative criticism. Although some people see this as a negative I believe it is positive to have a coach who tells you what he thinks. Coaches who take control of teams such as Vince Lombardi are irreplaceable and can be an integral part of any team. With coaches such as Vince, you knew heading into training camp that it was his way or the highway and the players respected that. He treated every player fairly. Vince Lombardi believed that if he did not take control of his teams quickly he would lose their respect forever. As a coach being respected by your players is the most important aspect of coaching.
Without respect the players will not listen to the coach and the team will not be successful. The negative aspects of a coach such as Vince Lombardi are that you are never good enough in his eyes. No matter how good you play he will always say you can do better. Some people might agree with the coach always criticizing but I believe once and a while everybody needs a pat on the back for a job well done.
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