“They can because they think they can”
When babies are born they really are quite useless – The only actions they take part in are the ones that are biologically programmed into living beings to be done without having to consciously think about doing it: Breathing, sleeping, going to the toilet and crying to express the need for something; be it food, a new nappy or just the same feeling they had while in the womb, being wrapped in safe warm arms. It’s what they do – Eat, sleep and poop. Oh, and cry – You can never get away from that one!
As they grow older they start to develop a very basic sense of awareness of what is happening around them and their parents or other close family members being around them all the time, they become the focus of the baby, listening to them talking, the sounds they make as their voice leaves their mouths, rather than the actual message being conveyed. Their actions and movements. In their developing brains the signals being sent are ones of mimicking these noises and movements. Because that’s how growth and development work.
Why am I talking about babies here? What does this have to do with the NRL – Just bare with me, there is a connection here and this does actually mean something.
As babies grow a bit bigger they start making noises, they’re not talking to you – Babies don’t know how to talk, they’re just trying to mimic the sound vibrations you are making. However the way that babies mouths and tongues develop can play a trick on us as we stand there repeating “Mum mum mum” or “Dad dad dad”. When the baby mimics the sound it is delivered in the way it is because of the above mentioned mouth and tongue development. This development makes sounds like “Ma” and “Da” the easiest noises to make – Along with other short simple sounds, that we don’t correlate with anything because they’re not important to us.
So baby starts repeating “Ma Ma Ma” and we jump up and down and do the hokey pokey and praise them because OMG my baby is saying MUM! Really until there’s a clear “Mum”, your baby is mimicking sounds by vibrating their tongue with little use of the vocal cords, but that’s beside the point..
The point is because we have such a positively reinforced reaction to what we WANT to hear as our baby addressing us, the babies immature mind see’s the happy, clapping and smiling person standing in front of them as an audience and will continue making the noises because their biological need for affection and comfort is being met. Your baby didn’t learn to talk in that instance, but through the consistent and positive reactive approach to the situation (Appeasing our own ego’s, somewhat), we instil the idea in their developing minds, that if they keep trying, if they keep copying more words and actions we will keep praising
They can because they think they can.
They can because they think they can, because our reaction as basically their “God” showed and told them that they could do it, so they kept trying, because the happy approval and praise made them keep trying so they could feel that feeling of approval again and again.
That is teaching them and that is them learning.
It’s the same with walking… Most toddlers first steps are “Falling, with style”, but by Christ no mother is having that, my baby just walked. Even if they have now face planted. Again we make the biggest fuss praising them, how clever they are and when did they become such a big boy/girl – Come to mummy, come on walk to me. They take those steps because we are there holding out our hands, telling them they can, but assuring them that even if they fall – We’re right there to catch them.
That’s how teaching works. People who can achieve something and achieve it to a high standard the first time they do it – They aren’t the rule, they are the exception to it. Reality is for the majority of people we need to suck at stuff for awhile before we start sucking less. We need to get flogged 48-0 once or twice, before we start not losing by quite so much. We need to fail in order to learn how to succeed.
But that process becomes fragmented when outside influences are involved. You see, whereas mum and dad are the: “They can because they think they can” cheer squad – The rest of the world is not and just to put it plainly, some people out in the world can be real arseholes. They will see you struggle and for some reason they will take it upon themselves to be the commentary team for your failures, throwing it on your emotional 6 O’clock news constantly just so that the self esteem and confidence that your parents worked tirelessly for years to ingrain in your sub conscious can be taken apart brick by brick in less than a tenth of the time that it took to build.
What once was that you can because you think you can becomes:
“Mum and dad just told me that because they love me too much to tell me that I suck at that, they just want to spare my feelings”
Then you hear that enough times, that your failures and weaknesses begin to define you and become as much of your personality as any other trait. You become someone who thinks maybe I can’t because they’re all telling me that I can’t do it. Which can lead to a few different things:
- Blatantly not bothering to try if you’re not good at it the first time, because you just suck at it, you’re not going to get better, it’s bullshit anyway.
- You try too hard to be perfect at it straight away, even though you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing – Or you lack the confidence to tell yourself you WILL be good at it, you just try too hard and then you give up way too easily when it becomes an exhaustive process (No one is perfect – Let’s clear that one up. Absolutely NO ONE! No one in the history of ever and if they tell you they are or that other person is, they are wrong. Which is evidence of them not being perfect in itself)
- You try and when you don’t succeed the way that you were expected to by the people around you are left with that heavy feeling of disappointment. There are people who say that you’re rubbish and why are you there anyway. They have a million different reasons why you suck – But just remember, what they say of you, says more of them, than it does of you.
The last point now brings me to how this connects to the NRL.
I will say before anyone jumps in to say these guys are not babies, they’re grown men. Yes they are, but they are human at the bottom line and humans have basic primal needs.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Source)
We’re going to focus on the top two tiers for the purposes of this blog post and discuss how these two tiers appear to be addressed by the NRL, The Cowboys as a team, the media and the collective and hypothetical fans – I haven’t got any individual quotes to put in here – That’s their circus and their monkeys in a specific sense – But in a general sense, I’ll blog about it because it’s always something that’s troubled me.
So many comments, assessments and conclusions are completely disregarding pretty much every single primal human need of the guys who play for the Cowboys. I am not going to explain each point and why and how they’re being disregarded. It’s really self explanatory if you read what you and others are saying and that’s something you can do some self reflection on… But, here’s my comeback to the disregard being paid to these needs.
The Cowboys are a side that to me have come along in leaps and bounds over the years, I remember vaguely when I was younger them seeming kind of irrelevant and inconsequential when it came to teams that made an impact in the game. However there are only two certainties in life and one of them isn’t how a football club was in the past is how they will be in the present and the future.
(I am no big fan of JT but those opinions aren’t for this entry – But I thought i’d preface with that, so people didn’t think I was being a bit two-faced ;))
However I can give credit where credit is due – For all the things I don’t like, I do like that he advocates vehemently for the players who are on his team, I like that he is not a selfish leader for the Cowboys. I like that he advocates for people who do not have a voice loud enough to be heard in our Indigenous communities. He appears to genuinely care about these things and care about his team, while also showing them that he is their captain and their leader.
Their captain and their leader.
He is not their shoulders that they are carried on. He is not a one man team. Despite what commentary and presenting teams and the media will suggest. When a team plays in Townsville they are not “Playing JT”, they are playing the Cowboys. The 13 men on the field and the ones sitting on the bench as interchange as well. He was 1/13th of the team on the field. He is a good player. Some would say the greatest of all time. The next Immortal. Whatever you want to call him, they’re all titles he can wear proudly and look back fondly that his playing and performance invoked those thoughts…
I don’t know JT personally, so this is purely me saying this based on common decency as a human being, but I don’t think he will look back fondly on his team being told they suck without him, especially by people who call themselves fans of the team. But not by anyone, it’s rude for one and it’s completely false. They do not suck. They lack the leadership that JT provides them – Because he has been providing them with the I can because I think I can mentality. He took a club that was inconsequential and he didn’t carry it, he taught it to walk and talk and made them believe that they could win because, even if they didn’t – They have to suck a lot before they can become really good.
I truly believe that if pretty everybody I see stop telling the Cowboys and anybody else that will listen that they cannot because they suck without JT. They will be able to rebuild the bricks that JT built in them and stop believing that without him on the field, that they’re nothing and start believing again that they can because they think they can. But they can’t hear that voice JT put there over the deafening sound of defeatists whose assessments make them doubt not only their capabilities without JT but their abilities as overall NRL players.
Cowboys is not a one man team. JT could not run onto a field solo and compete against a team of 13 and win. If he proves me wrong, I will admit that he is the GOAT. But if we approach the team and being realistic instead of idealistically putting him on a pedestal, we know that it’s not possible.
All the players in that team are there because they displayed something that stood out to the people who select the Cowboys side. Every single one of them. Whether people have the ability to recognise it in them or not. They all have a role to play and they have been chose to the there because out of the options that were presented to the selectors, they are the best people to be in that team. They are not there because they have the ability to ride on JT’s shoulders like little clowns in a clown car. They do not exist in the team to flatter him, or protect him (Although they do – Because they respect and care for him)… But most of all they were not selected to be in the Cowboys side to be emotionally trained by the masses to believe that without him they are failures.
JT does do many things for the team – Kicking and controlling the plays and leading – But that’s not something that makes him better than the other players, or more important – That makes him someone who does the job he’s employed to do as one of the halves combination, as the goal kicker and as the captain. If he couldn’t do those jobs effectively and efficiently after all these years, then alternate employment options should be explored.
JT doesn’t carry the team, the team carries each other. His team mates doing their jobs so effectively and professionally through their own hardwork, their own merits and their own skill is what makes the job look so easy for him to perform. Their ability and their efforts in working together is what affords JT the opportunities and the freedom of movement and time to deliver the last tackle kick options that people think are so phenomenal. If the team around him wasn’t doing their job properly, it would be much more difficult for JT to perform at what they call the JT Masterclass level.
Without JT on the field the team is the same team that assists JT to create these opportunities. They are the same players, they have the same skills and they have the same capabilities.
The only thing that is missing from them when JT isn’t on the field, other than his leadership, is the belief that they can achieve without him, because people have dedicated far too much time to convincing them that they can’t