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Want To Know What A Real Team Looks Like? This Team Just Showed It By Quitting (It’s A Team Of 10-Year-Olds)

They did it together. The authorities gave them a choice. They chose something above winning.

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 15 Feb 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

 

American business doesn't always do team very well.

That's partly because America doesn't always do team very well.

American culture is deeply committed to individualism. The mere thought of all-for-one and one-for-all can smack of, well, communism.

I present, therefore, the kids from St. John's School in Clark, New Jersey.

These fifth-graders are all part of a Catholic Youth League basketball team. They were headed for the playoffs.

There was a slight problem. There were nine boys and two girls and this is a Catholic League Basketball team.

League officials had heard that this St. John's team was good, but they'd only just been made aware that this team was, perish the concept, made up of boys and girls, This was, well, not allowed. Or at least that's how it seemed.

Certainly, after some deliberation, the Archdiocese decided it didn't approve.

Still, as NJ.com reports, the team turned up to for its first playoff game against St. Bartholomew the Apostle in Scotch Plains.

They were ready. The refs, however, weren't. They told them they'd been instructed not to work the game if St. John's insisted on including the girls.

The parents asked the kids what they wanted to do. The kids voted not to play at all.

They forfeited their chance at the championship. The other team went home and the St. John's kids played a scrimmage among themselves just for fun.

Let's try to leave the religious aspect out of all this. Will you try with me? We can do it together. (I'm biased. I was brought up a Catholic and, well, you know. And here's the Washington Post with a full reminder of the issues at hand.)

It's more uplifting to focus on the idea that these kids might have been just old enough to know what the concept of a team truly means.

The kids seemed to understand why it was important for each member to stand up for the team.

They'd played together for four years. They had, presumably, won together and lost together.

They'd also, one imagines, seen all the individualistic NBA showboating on ESPN just once or twice.

Yet here they were actually giving something up for the sake of that team thing.

Of course, it's much harder to replicate when you become an adult. In business, everyone has an idea of their own career path and what's quaintly called "personal growth."

Sexism abounds, perfidy too.

Sometimes, though, you'll come across people in business who still believe in team not just as a nirvana-sourced idea, but as something that, if everyone fully commits, offers a little more meaning in return.

As one of the players, Kayla Martel, told NJ.com after the whole team voted not to play: "It has a big impact on me because it shows that they care. I'm part of them just as they're part of me and they don't want to break that bond just like I don't want to break that bond. I think the rules are ridiculous."

Rules sometimes are.

You can decide that these kids' parents must have influenced them. You can even say that in a week or two they'll regret it.

Somehow, though, their story made the news.

Why? Because this sort of teamwork is extremely rare.