What are some important attributes we can appreciate by observing top sports figures? Character? Perseverance? Fearlessness? All of the above when athletes embrace their unique position to set examples and serve as role models. All too often, however, this does not come to pass.
Never mind off-the-field behavior. It was recently reported that as a league, NFL players had gone 33 days without an arrest – a record number since journalists officially began keeping track 5 years ago. These problems are already well-documented and disturbing. But what of demeanor exacted on the gridiron? This past week, we witnessed actions that I would argue crossed the line “between the lines”. Enter: Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Known for his fragile psyche, Cutler’s performance against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night was remarkable not as much for his multitude of interceptions as for the meltdown publicly directed at his offensive line and, more specifically, teammate JaMarcus Webb. Tired of one too many sacks and rushed throws, Cutler was spotted on the national NFL Network broadcast screaming at his teammates in frustration, followed by actually bumping Webb as he walked by. At the post game press conference Cutler defended his actions, saying in essence that he was there to win and when people did not perform he was going to let them know about it. It all came off rather infantile, really.
While there is no denying the pressure and extreme physical nature of sports, aren’t each of us also under tremendous pressures day-to-day? How we react to adversity in offices and boardrooms (and playing fields) can define who we are and set the tone for our entire organizations. Dressing down a colleague in public (in Cutler’s case in front of millions of viewers) and then turning physical (however mildly) would be, in our world, grounds for censure if not outright dismissal. Hopefully, Cutler’s outburst and inappropriate reactions made the masses uncomfortable – and enough so that we all take a good look at how we are communicating with and treating those with whom we interact. We all should care about our work, but we should care about those we work with even more.