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Individual Awards or Team Success – What Matters Most?


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LONDON, August 16 (Associated Press) - One of the most challenging things in professional sports is the conundrum between team success and individual plaudits. Many players want to become champions, but often, being a champion means sacrificing your own personal goals for the greater good. We sat down with experts in sports psychology to get their views on what really motivates professionals across the globe.


For the purpose of this article, we will look at the Victory Hockey League, the world’s top professional league. Due to the tough nature of the league, many players only have a handful of seasons to try their luck at winning a Continental Cup, but it is clear that there are others who are truly focused on winning Scotty Campbell trophies en route to the Hall of Fame.


“I think as time has gone on, with the growth of personal endorsement deals, high-profile agents, sports have become more individualized. Now we are seeing players who think they are indispensable to their teams, truly focused on their own goals. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago, most players would sacrifice themselves for the team,” Dr. Albert Schwarz, a professor of sports psychology at the University of Leipzig, said.


Joseph Schmidt, a former hockey agent, said that good players are often asked to take lesser roles if they want to be part of a championship team, which in turn can hurt their goals and points totals when all said is done.


“If you want to be on a championship team, there are guys who would be top-line forwards who are asked to be on the second line, or guys playing on the second pairing who, on another team, would be getting top pairing minutes. It truly depends on what motivates the player and what they want to achieve from their career,” Schmidt said.


In the VHL, there is some cache for winning team awards. The famous triple crown, consisting of a VHL title, VHLM title, and gold in the World Cup, drives many players to remain on cup contenders even at their own personal, and financial loss.


Keeping a championship team together in the salary cap era is becoming increasingly difficult for GMs, especially as players know that they have a better shot at fighting off regression if they have more dollars coming into their account.


Jan Hlozek, a defenceman for the Riga Reign, said that he believed that some of the players in the VHL were placing greater emphasis on their own short-term goals, rather than wanting to win the cup at the end of the season.


“I’m not going to name names, but we recently had a guy ask for a trade who was a rookie in his first season. He had four guys in front of him on the depth chart, but he was a first round pick. His time would come, but the guys these days don’t want to be patient. They can’t see themselves as part of a winning team. I guess it’s disappointing, but we have to make the best of it,” Hlozek told the Associated Press.]



Claiming theme week this week, as my media spot next week.


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