When Everyone Is "Swiping Left… "

In Mental Toughness
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The Miami Dolphins started their NFL season getting their asses kicked at home by the Baltimore Ravens, 59-10. 

That’s the kind of score you’d expect to see in a college football game, where the talent gap between the best and worst teams is much larger than amongst the pros (where the gap is usually in discipline and cohesion, not in talent). 

Word is, some Dolphins players contacted their agents after that debacle of an opening game and told their agents to try to find trades to get them off of the Dolphins roster ASAP. The anonymous source said that the trade-seeking players don’t want to be part of a “tanking”  football team, which is when a team is purposely losing in order to secure a high draft pick next Spring.  

I get the idea of tanking from an organization’s POV. 

If you see your team as not good enough to compete for a championship, it makes more sense to just lose as much as possible and get a high draft pick — a star college player who can get the team closer to competing much faster than the current fight for mediocrity. 

Just like in the NBA, for non-contending teams, NFL rules favor losing to angle for draft choices over losing by trying hard. 

It’s different for the players, though.

I doubt there are many players who want to be on a team that’s losing on purpose. Unless you’re a borderline-roster player who’s just trying to prove you belong in the league, you want to be part of a team that’s actually competing. 

However, any player who has enough leverage — a proven track record of career success — to even think of requesting a trade isn’t in the space of trying to prove he belongs in the NFL. You’ve already shown that you can play. So, unless you’re playing less than your best on purpose to make the team lose, how could a player see “the team” as tanking and not include themselves as part of the problem? 

If I’m an established player who thinks my team is trying to lose on purpose, that must mean I’m not as good as I thought I was. 

Just my presence alone, combined with that of at least a few other players, can counteract that strategy. Then, if the organization is really trying to tank, they’d have to trade me — my performance is making the team TOO GOOD. I’m messing up the plan.  

I understand that football is more of a team sport than my sport of basketball; a football team has 53 men on its roster and 11 on the field every play, compared to basketball’s 15 and 5, respectively. Along with the rules of the game, which limit what each player is allowed to do, the impact of one individual on a football game is not as strong as that of a basketball player, where any player can perform any task. 

This isn’t about skill. It’s really about ownership. 

No, not ownership like being the founder of a business or the title holder of a piece of real estate — ownership meaning, “if I’m involved in it, I’m responsible for it.” 

If a Dolphins player thinks the team is tanking, I would think that player should take it personally that any team he’s on could tank, rather than looking for a way to jump off the (supposedly) sinking ship (remember, they’ve played only one game so far). 

I don’t know if this is a new thing or if it’s always been present, but it seems like people are more apt to “swipe left” and bail on a less-than-ideal situation these days, rather than tough it out and figure out how to make it work. 

It seems that more often, we see opportunities as disposable, and will switch them out interchangeably until we find one that works for us, rather than stay in one spot and make that one work. 

I don’t see this as a measure of loyalty. It’s a measure of mental toughness. 

I wrote The Mental Handbook to help you lay the foundation for that mental toughness, and you can get that Handbook alone, or as part of the Bulletproof Bundle, my FOUR best books on Mindset. 

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