If more people applied the concept of teamwork to life, like athletes do on a championship team, how much better off could society be?

The thing about being a sports journalist is that paying attention to sports is my job. And quite often, it provides a splendid buffer from having to pay too much attention to news stories.

But the last few days, the headlines have been tough to shake, much less ignore.

The events in Charlottesville last weekend are tragic, maddening and bewildering all at the same time. Mostly, it’s questions of why and why do people think and act the way they do.

Thoughts and theories bounce around in the mind and it doesn’t take long to come back to the world of sports. Because there are times when you start to think that if people approached life the way athletes approach their roles as teammates, society might be better off.

Maybe it sounds simplistic and too ideal, but think about all the different games, teams and athletes you’ve played on and watched over the years. Remember how the team was united for a common goal, which is victory. Remember how the athletes worked together, took care of their role and supported each other to achieve that goal.

Sports is a bottom-line pursuit and the only reason athletes step on the field is to win. That’s it. Sure, learning teamwork and improving your individual skill set comes with the territory, but those are by-products of the ultimate destination and separate ingredients for the primary goal.

Ever talked to an athlete after a tough loss? Tried to say “but you scored three goals” or “but you had a great play in the second quarter”? Memo: If you have to start your sentence with the word “but,” athletes don’t want to hear it. Stats and praise don’t go far in the face of losing.

It’s all about winning and there are no shortcuts to the top. You take care of your job and what you can do to get that win. That’s where you want to be.

That’s why, as we reflect on the state of things following what went down last weekend, we wonder how this teamwork approach in sports can work in our day today lives. Because don’t we all want to win? 

Just as more cooperation, more trust and more work make winners out of sports teams, those same ingredients are needed to make winners of the human team. Because like it or not, we are all on the same team.

And when we think back to all the winning teams we’ve watched over the years, we’ve seen groups of people come together and work. Different races and genders unite for that common goal and we don’t care who gets the job done, as long as it gets done.

Is it really that simple? 

It can be, and it doesn’t really take all that much to make happen. In this country, we’ve got plenty of programs, committees and foundations to combat the evils of hatred and racism.

Noble pursuits, all. But not necessary. Because the real change needs to happen individually, one by one. These views that encourage nationalism based on race are taught. Which means the opposite can also be taught. 

Or, coached. Just as athletes are coached to do their job within the framework of the team, we too can coach others to do their share off the field. That’s best done by example and really, it’s not that difficult to do.

Make no mistake, this racism and ugliness is everywhere, not just the South. But even if we can’t make it disappear completely, we can make it insignificant by the way we hold ourselves accountable.

Just as we hold our offensive linemen accountable for clearing running lanes, just as we hold the volleyball setter responsible to get the ball up for the hitter, just as we rely on the No. 4 or No.5 runner to get team points in cross country, we can hold ourselves accountable to get our jobs done in the game of life.

And our job as teammates is to understand that we’re equals, that no one teammate is more important, or superior, than another. That’s as much mental as it is physical, which is why it all starts from within. Doing our own part to make this team we’re on a success, and a winner.

The world of sports isn’t perfect, for sure, but the concept of teamwork is. So maybe it’s a good time to step back and remember that no matter where we’re from, we’re all on the same team.

And we all have a job to do.

Chavez is sports editor at The Daily Messenger. Contact me at rchavez@messengerpostmedia.com or follow me @MPN_bchavez