I've noticed a lot of criticism of professional athletes and sports in general. And although there are certainly enough premadonna's and spoiled little rich kids in the business, there are a lot of useful benefits to team sports.

In high school I was captain of the baseball team and went to college on a sports scholarship. After school I played in Central America and Europe for years until I just got too old to keep up with the youngsters anymore.

I played second base and so was part of the "double-play" duo in the middle infield. My shortstop and I worked together almost Ninja like. He knew where I was going to be and what I was going to do before I ever did it. We communicated via unspoken hand signals and other gestures. We each had responsibilities as part of a team in order for the team as a whole to succeed if even to the detriment of the individual.

Like the hit-and-run play where the runner on first takes off running as the hitter swings away. Many times the runner will be thrown out allowing a man on third base to score a run. In the score book the runner from first goes down as "caught stealing" and it negatively affects his base stealing percentage, but the team scored a run.

On long hits to the outfield almost every player on the infield had a role to play in getting the ball back in to the infield and trying to throw the runner out. Every situation had a collection of plays specifically designed for it and which was communicated to the rest of the team by the catcher. He was the on field captain.

Of utmost importance were: listening, knowing ones responsibilities in every situation and working together. Characteristics that are usually lacking in most "team" environments today but which are crucial to success whether it be business or personal.

We also learned sportsmanship which led to character. We learned how to lose and learn from our mistakes. We learned how to lose with dignity and pride. We learned how to win with humility and respect.

Athletic competition has a lot of virtues and if kept in this perspective can be beneficial.