The Glamour of Being a Role Player

In sports, we all have faces that we associate with the game. In football you may think of Julio Jones or Le’Veon Bell or Aaron Rodgers. In basketball Lebron James and Kevin Durant dominate the headlines. Even in less popular sports there are names and faces that help you identify with that sport. Most of the time these players deserve the spotlight they are given. If I were to ask you what sport David Beckham or Wayne Gretzky played I am comfortable in saying that I bet you would be able to tell me what sport they played. This is because they have earned it. They are some of the best ever at what they do or did and there is no denying that. Those players are good and all but I want to talk about the role players. The guys who fly under the radar but who help make these superstars who they are.

Neymar, Messi, and Ronaldo were 2016’s Ballon D’Or finalists. This is the award for the best footballer in the world

Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Neymar are three of the biggest names in world football right now. All three make millions and millions of euros a year outside of their actual team contracts with endorsements and other naming rights deals. It is important to note that all three of these players play in an attacking position. In sports, the attacking side of play is traditionally more glamorous than the defending side. Most of the names you associate with sports are because of their attacking prowess. Ronaldo, Messi, and Neymar score goals and win their team’s games. There is no denying that, but someone has to get them the ball and that starts in the midfield. If there was no midfield to move the ball from defense to attack, these guys would not be as good as they are. If the defense was not capable of stopping the opponent’s attack, there would be no chance to give the midfield the ball to assist these stars in scoring. Lastly, if the goalkeeper could not make a save, the defense would have no ball to pass to the midfielders who could then go on to supply the attackers.

What I am trying to say is that there is a trickle down effect that is needed for a superstar to be a superstar. In sports we hear this phrased a lot as, “This is a team sport” or “There is no I in team.” So why do I write this at all if we already know this? Because those players that work behind the scenes deserve more credit.

I’ll give you a great example of this. As I write this, the first week of the NFL season has passed. Unsurprisingly Antonio Brown had the most recieving years this first week. Can you tell me who was second? Was it Julio Jones? Dez Bryant? Jordy Nelson? I’ll give you a hint. I’ve talked about him in a previous article. You must be thinking, “Mike Evans did not play this week Karl….” You’re right and it was not him. It was Adam Thielen. In case you forgot, he is a wide reciever for the Minnesota Vikings. You may not be a Vikings fan but if you saw pictures of the Vikings vs Saints game, they were probably of Dalvin Cook, Sam Bradford, or Stefon Diggs. All of these guys played great. They all were a big part in Minnesota’s victory yet there was no sign that Thielen is the second leading reciever in the NFL as of this publication. His presence on the field drew defenders away from Diggs so that he could make some ridiculous plays and score two touchdowns. Thielen does not seek out the attention or demand targets, he is there to do whatever it takes to make the Vikings better.

That is why role players are important. They do not want the spotlight. They do not need to be on the cover of Fifa 18. All they need is the opportunity to help their team. Week in and week out, they couldn’t care less if they made a Top 10 play or set a record in recieving. All they care about is working as hard as possible for the team they love. That is why they deserve the glory. Just as much as the stars do.

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