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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

July 31, 2014 at 7:32 AM

How Seahawks’ team-first formula proves the fallacy of potential in sports

The Seahawks' brain trust of general manager John Schneider, center, and coach Pete Carroll, right, have made the team concept and performance the point of player acquisitions, like that of receiver Doug Baldwin (89).  John Lok / Seattle Times staff

The Seahawks’ brain trust of general manager John Schneider, center, and coach Pete Carroll, right, have made the team concept and performance the point of player acquisitions, like that of receiver Doug Baldwin (89).
John Lok / Seattle Times staff

BY MICHAEL T. MIYOSHI

As people prepare for a new football season, I pause to wonder what armchair managers think about what the Seattle Seahawks did in the offseason.

After the NBA draft, I had to wonder about the status of professional sports. Top picks were made from kids not yet in their 20s. Kids became millionaire athletes without even stepping onto a court. Apparently, it is all about potential.

Do not get me wrong. I do not begrudge those people their money or fame. I just wonder about the message it sends. I wonder how many people see pro sports as an analogy for life. I wonder how many young people think they are entitled to a good job just because somebody told them they have potential.

As foolhardy as paying untested athletes may seem to the average sports fan, it is even more incredible to me that professional soccer teams sign kids whose age in single digits. I remember reading about one of the premiere teams in Spain signing a 7-year old and a Dutch team signing a toddler who it seemed to me could barely walk (See Real Madrid). Real Madrid was ready to put the 7-year old into their soccer player-making machine, where he would learn to be a professional soccer player – and, hopefully, how to read and write. At least that is what my jaded mind was thinking when I read the article a few years ago.

Which brings me back to the Seahawks.

It seems to me that John Schneider and Pete Carroll have the right formula. The general manager and head coach are willing to pay for talent. But only once it has manifested itself. They are not willing to throw good money at potential. They are old school. They want to know what they are getting for their money.

Schneider and Carroll also take intangibles into consideration when they sign players. They want people who will fit their scheme. They want players who will add to the mystical thing called team chemistry. They know that players who are disciplined and will work as a team are the ones who will succeed. They know that doing things right and getting the job done will create wins. And they are willing to hunt for the players who can subvert their own goals for those of the team. They pay top dollar for top players. As long as they are willing to be part of the team.

I have been a jaded professional sports fan for many years. Much of it stems from the perception that the identity of a team becomes the identity of a superstar. With football, that is usually the quarterback. Rather than any defensive player.

Call me old fashioned, but I miss the days of the No Name Defense in Miami and The Orange Crush in Denver. I miss the days of dominant defenses in the NFL. Which is why I am rooting for the Seahawks. I like that Schneider and Carroll place a premium on a dominant defense.

And, of course, a really good offense.

As an armchair manager, I like the moves that the Seahawks have made. I like that they have a great offense to go with the best defense in the league. I like that they recognize greatness when it is proven rather than paying for potential. I like that Schneider, Carroll and Company want to put together the best team that they can instead of piecing together a hodgepodge of players to complement a superstar.

I am not sure what other armchair managers think, but I like what the Seahawks have done in the offseason to get ready for some football.

Michael T. Miyoshi is a teacher and track and field coach at Cedarcrest High School in Duvall. He has been blogging more than seven years and has been published in several newspapers, including The Seattle Times. Read more of Michael T. Miyoshi’s Musings at http://www.mediocreman.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. Opinions expressed are those of authors, and The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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