Pick Your Sport

The Underachievers

Ah…the underachievers, the culprits who are making your team lose. The underachievers are scoundrels and need to be run out of town.  They are the ones that are usually overpaid and have become overweight and complacent in their actions.  They have guaranteed contracts and will cruise until the last year of their contracts.  The underachievers don’t care if they are underachieving and usually get hurt and will be unable to perform for long periods of time.  Unlike the overachievers, they are descending in their performance level and can very well find themselves cut loose.  Sometimes they get cut loose while they are still owed millions.   Now we really hate them.   Of course, this was a harsh assessment and most of it is from our outside biased opinions.

The underachievers are not to be lumped in with the choker.  The choker is more of a short term malfunction that involves bodily functions displacing themselves at the most inappropriate time.  The underachievement involves a select period of time when the performer can’t seem to reach the level of performance that their peers, fans and media have expected of them.  The bodily function description is applicable but the sickness is more of extended affliction which can be chronic in nature. On a serious note, the underachiever moniker is the stuff that self-help books have set out to rid ourselves of.   I have read some of those books like a lot of you but luckily have never found myself in a seminar hugging everybody and denouncing my sad sack ways.

Now that we have thrashed all of those of don’t make the grade in their so called area of expertise, lets breakdown why this underachieving is happening.   There is an old description of for underachievers and it’s called the “Peter Principle”.  The Peter principle is a concept in management theory formulated by Laurence Peter and published in 1969. The theory is that the selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate’s performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and “managers rise to the level of their incompetence.” Put that in a sports context and it rings true in many situations.   Some players just are not going to reach a certain level of performance because it is beyond their skill level.   They were given the job without a much thought for their ability and long term chances to be successful.

Another aspect and reason for perceived underachieving are the hidden injuries. Every athlete’s deals with injuries and some will find themselves outright unable to perform.  Then there are the situations where the injury is not debilitating enough to take the athlete off of the field and the player tries to perform as though they are healthy.  There are many athletes who will not disclose their injury to the public and only a select few know what is ailing them.   I can imagine that aching muscles and backs are hardly reported on a daily basis.  NHL Hockey players are notorious for making vague references to injuries with the notion of not letting your opponent know what your weakness is.

Underachievement affects every damn human in the world. Call it what you will and give it select to describe a shortcoming in a performance.  Unless someone is outright lazy and finds delight in not getting the job done then we probably don’t know the whole story.  But as sports fans we hate excuses and just want our players to get the job done, all of the time and don’t whine about it.   When fans are booing in the stands and are completely fed up with losing, the ugly finger pointing starts and players will be given dunce caps. You can rest assure that the players themselves are searching for answers.   The answers don’t come easy and slumps and downturns are part of the game.  The players that are able figure it out are the ones that have longer and more successful careers.   Next time I find myself underachieving, like not getting any chores done, is it laziness? Or my aching back?  Am I not really qualified to mow the lawn?  Some of those can apply but the good thing, 20,000 people are not booing me and I am not written up in the newspaper.  The underachiever label is about as normal as anything in sports, like it or not but hopefully you are not a quitter.  There is one worse thing than an underachiever and that is quitter.  See my upcoming article on quitters, very riveting. 😉