How Team Sports Are Like Working In An Office

In the past few years Sean has played on a couple of sports teams. He played baseball for a couple of seasons and now he’s playing soccer.

What I have observed in watching Sean play soccer and baseball is that team sports are the precursor to working in an office.  You’ve got the same cast of characters, only in miniature.  Basically the nose picker and whiner and the kid who just lies down in the outfield grow up to get jobs.  So we make Sean play sports, not for the exercise, but to develop his interpersonal office skills.

In sports and at the office, there is always someone who thrives on drama; every minor scrape is life threatening.  Their dream is to be carried off on a stretcher.

There is also someone who is constantly kissing up to management – they live to report every minor foul and inequity.

There is the dude who always shows up about half way through the game but takes full credit/commission for the win/sale.

Then there is Mr. Chatty Pants who is like a gnat buzzing around your head. He likes to chat you up while you are trying to keep your eye on the ball.  And then in the name of teamwork, he takes credit for the goal you scored.

And many others.

I worked in a number of different offices back in the 70s and 80s and in all honesty, I didn’t do very well. I never seemed to be able to figure out how to navigate office politics and personalities.

Had I played soccer when I was growing up, I might be a CEO now instead of a blogger.

33 thoughts on “How Team Sports Are Like Working In An Office

  1. Oh how true, team sports (or really any kind of team activity) is learning how to work with teams in the workplace. When I interview people, I ask them about what kinds of activities they enjoyed as a kid. The answer gives me an idea of what kind of team player they are. I don’t look just at sports, but also things like music or theater or any other kind of activity where individual success was dependent on team success. Really anything that shows me that they have the skills to participate in a team environment because there are all those people you talked about in a team and by playing those sports, you learn how to be successful and bring a team to success despite all the nose pickers and whiners. 😉

  2. Perhaps this is why I have always reviled both team sports and office work. In fact, the longer I worked in an office, the more I resonated with all those Russian novels and short stories where office drones retire to the attic with an existential crisis or hallucinate their boss has turned into a giant nose.

    I remind myself of this on the days the kids drive me especially crazy.

  3. Hahaha! This is too cute!

    I was never allowed to play team sports growing up (too strict parents). I don’t handle office politics well either and now am wondering the same thing as you…

    I think I was the little girl on the team kicking the ball into the wrong goal. Jumping up and down in happiness, wondering why I’m getting yelled at. I always have really good intentions and yet somehow managing to screw it up royally.


  4. Very profound! And yes, you hit all the office “personalities” right on the money. I wonder which one people consider me…?

    Since I’m known as “steady” and a pretty good listener, I seem to attract the drama type.

  5. my kid is a cross between the one laying in the grass and the drama queen…hopefully, playing sports will help her grow out of that. this is her first year playing soccer, and she’s only three…so we’ll see how it goes 🙂

    during practice she likes to make grass angels and at her first game someone stole the ball from her and she cried the rest of the game lol

  6. I just had a converstation with the developmental pedatirician about if a team sport might be good for my son — then we also talked about if my daughter would enjoy a team sport– and we decided that the constant transistion from home to practice to home for dinner…not to mention games– ect…ect… would be just too much… Ah, well.. I didn’t mean to have my comment be a book about MY life… ooops! thanks for listening!

  7. That’s a great connection! Made me think of my husband. He said he was the kid that was overly distracted by the bug on the ground and the cloud that looks like the dinosaur in his dreams. Today he’s the Director of Business but the rabbit trails that he goes diving down MUST be very much like the 6 year old ‘J’.

  8. Hahahaha! That is so true! The kicker is, you can also usually figure which members of the cast of characters those kids’ parents are in their own offices!

  9. Sometimes I think the same thing about school. I have a nephew who has some behaviorial issues and last year they isolated his desk in the corner by the window. And I thought to myself… “that’s kinda what everyone strives for in a job – a corner office with a view.”

  10. I did play on a softball team once when I was like 11 or 12. I was put way out in right field (Or is it left? Which ever one is behind 1st base). I had really bad distance vision and depth perception so I couldn’t see the ball very well and I couldn’t tell if I should run up or back up to get the damn ball and the one or two times it came towards me everyone started yelling at me “Mftdgdqth the ball! Mfthdgth the ball!” I couldn’t make out what they were yelling at me other than something about the ball and the more I ran forward or back or whatever, the more everyone yelled at me to do something I didn’t understand. So I cried.

    Thats pretty much how it went when I worked in an office too.

    Yup, I’ll stick with individual sports like golf and figure skating and blogging.

  11. I played organized sports as a kid and I still don’t do well at the office politics. I just keep my head down and do my job and hope I don’t get called on a foul ball.

  12. What a great analogy. I wonder what this will mean for my boy. Try as we might, my hubby and I have been unable to get him to participate in team sports. He prefers running, biking, swimming… anything that he can do on his own. He is quite social and gets along well with other people but is not a team kind-of guy.

    * * *
    Me neither. I tried to make myself be a “team player” all through my 20s and 30s because the worst thing you can be in America is “not a team player”. But I’m just not. I just like to do my own thing. I have no leadership skills either. The second worse thing you can be in America.

  13. I sat game after game as my daughter sat on the bench on her soccer team, but oh how she cheered everyone else on. Today she is in Human Resourse.

    I think you’re on to something…

  14. I hate the office drama. I am back in the work place where it is all women. I have one word UGH! Is that even a word? Glad you are a CEO…of your blog.

  15. I love your note in the comments! Brilliant comment. (Right field, BTW.) When we have that silly saying of “you never really leave junior high,” we really should be saying, “you never really leave the swarm ball field.” (You know? Soccer?)

  16. If you had played sports growing up, the world would be a much more boring place. No Antique Mommy? No thank you.

    My kids don’t do team sports—in fact, none of them have ever asked. They’d rather run, climb, swing or make up new sports on their own (Soccer-Golf, anyone?). Their teachers report they aren’t crazy about group projects, either.

    Life is a group project in itself. It’s good to be left alone sometimes.

  17. Lord have mercy, I hope you aren’t right.

    My twelve year old ALWAYS wants to play soccer then never wants to go to practice. Then during the game she spends more time pushing her bangs out of her eyes than she does playing.

    Your observations might not bode well for her future!

  18. This is great! And you might not be a CEO, but think how much more fun you are having as a blogger! 😉

    * * *
    True, but the pay stinks. On the other hand, my job is secure.

  19. Hmm . . Can’t say what that would have done for the business community, but it certainly would have been a loss for the blogging world!

  20. I always LOATHED team sports. I hated every minute of it. I don’t know why. I really enjoyed high school band. And I did enjoy the fencing team. But all of those ball-sports? Ugh.


  21. I read your blog just for the sheer fun you impart, and this entry was no exception – thanks for my chuckle on a Friday afternoon……

  22. You are brilliant! I never would have thought of that particular analogy. It’s so true!

    I guess this is what I have to look forward to soon, as I just (grudgingly) signed up both kids for their first “sports” ever. Ugh!

    I played soccer for a few early years but quit when I was 12 and I saw the goalie get her nose smashed in by the ball. It had never occurred to me that I could get really hurt until then!

    One of the happiest days of my life was the day I quit my office job and jetted off to flight attendant training. Hardly ever worked with the same people twice unless I wanted to, and never dealt with the same customer for longer than the flight. I can put up with anything for a few hours!! I miss that job sometimes…

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