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Great Teams Don’t Always Win


By Dr. Paul Dennis


The question is, “who is the best team of all time?” This question has often caused very passionate debates among friends and sports aficionados. There are so many different teams to choose from depending on your criteria.



If the criteria are based upon skill, ability, cohesion, and winning, then the 1972 Team Canada squad that participated in the Summit Series might be a consideration. Heroic performances from Phil Esposito and Paul Henderson allowed Canada to win the last three games of the tournament and defeat the Soviet Union. The gold medal winning 1992 USA Olympic men’s basketball team consisting of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan dominated other countries and were nicknamed the “Dream Team”. They would garner some votes. A case for top honours could be made for the Chicago Bulls, Montreal Canadiens, New York Yankess, Miami Dolphins and many more.

The team that I would vote for is a US college football squad, the 1958 University of Buffalo Bulls. But the criteria I have chosen does not take into account winning. The Bulls were invited to participate in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Florida against Florida State. During that era, racism and segregation was still well entrenched in America, and the world of sport did not escape its wrath. Prior to departing for Florida, the team was informed that African-American athletes were not permitted to play in the game because of their colour. There were two African-Americans on the roster. The coaches left it up to the players to decide whether to take part in the game. The team unanimously chose to boycott the event.



That decision was monumental in America and the sports world. The players knew that it was wrong to exclude their teammates based on their colour. The University of Buffalo team chose to stick together, remain united and take a stand. They treated each other with respect. They demonstrated cooperation, perseverance, courage and discipline. They are true champions in every sense of the word even though the team didn’t win. Currently there are concerns over a lack of respect for one another in sport. Perhaps we can remember what the University of Buffalo showed us … to always ask ourselves the question: “am I doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, for the right reasons?” If the answer is yes, then we are holding ourselves to a higher standard. If the answer is no, it’s never too late to change.


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