At the beginning of the 1997 football season, there were 1,487 players in the NFL. 44 were from Penn State and 37 were from Notre Dame. That’s over 5% of all professional players! Recognizing that there are many factors that account for these two schools’ incredible success (i.e., great coaches, excellent recruiting, plenty of money to pump into their programs…), do you think the fact that neither of these teams puts players’ names on the backs of their jerseys has anything to do with it?
At Notre Dame and Penn State, the focus is on the team rather than on the individual. Players develop pride in making each other successful, not in racking up personal statistics. You won’t see any showboating in the end zone (or at least you won’t see it twice). The coaches won’t tolerate anything that puts the individual above the team.
According to the old maxim, you get what you measure. If you want a solid team, you’ve got to measure team results. If individual goals net a better incentive than team goals, your team members will not even think about the team until their individual finish lines have been crossed. Lauding personal achievement will get you terrific individual successes, but it won’t get you a team. It’s not that you shouldn’t recognize individual contributions. You should. Just don’t make them more important than team efforts and accomplishments.