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What makes a captain?

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What makes a captain? Empty What makes a captain?

Post by JRW11Evea on Wed 25 Jan 2012, 1:00 am

What makes a captain?

What makes a captain? Liverpool+v+Lyon+UEFA+Champions+League+mhHE3fLbSZul

The popular misconception is that your captain is your best player, your star.

The universal quality looked for in every captain, is undoubtedly leadership. A good captain must rally the troops on and off the field, take a game by the scruff of the neck and have the pluck to take responsibility for a poor performance (only after they’ve thrown everything at the opposition in the face of defeat!).

A captain’s level of responsibility will differentiate depending on the level of the club they play for.

Outside the professional game, a team’s captain has a very prominent role in the team. In University ‘Sports Societies’ a captain will receive offerings (often in the way of lager) and good will in return for a place in the team, with the captain also acting as manager. Whilst the system helps build team morale and camaraderie, skilled players are often overlooked, if the captain doesn’t warm to them or they are unwilling to partake in ridiculous initiations.

I, myself, have only ever been made captain twice. The first occasions was at primary school, when my head teacher experimented with giving me the armband of our football team, and needless to say the role went over my head. All I knew was that a defender kicked the ball when the other team had it! The second, a little more recently, was a term as captain of a five aside football team. Whilst we were dreadful I took the ‘Gatorade’ sweatband that was my armband very seriously although my main duty was hammering on the door of students that made up my team, still in bed half an hour before kick-off.

The effect of the armband, a boost rather than a burden.

The responsibility of captaincy usually enhances the athlete unto which it is bestowed. Whilst the armband cannot always tame some of sports wildest characters, an abrasive personality is a strong one, a trait that makes a strong captain. The likes of Eric Cantona and Roy Keane have been involved in their fair share of off the ball incidents, but no-one would doubt their ability to lead, with their antics helping them achieve cult hero status. Avid sports fans will no doubt be aware of the off the field controversy that constantly plagues Joey Barton. However similarities can be drawn between the likes of Barton, Cantona and Keane, with his bold character, and nerve makes him an ideal captain. Barton has flourished since being given the armband. His new found responsibility has allowed him to be a stronger role model, a box needing to be ticked for any aspiring captain.

The role of captain varies between each sport, and each captain will take on their own style of leadership.

Due to these differences, a captain can take a role of varying prominence. For instance in football, the captain takes a more motivational role than tactical, and their attitude towards the game, and their intensity should set a precedent for the rest of the team, whereas in cricket, the captain is very much the coach’s tactical general on the field, with the coach further from the action than in football. A cricket captains off the field duties usually include an involvement in squad selection as well as an organisational role with regards to training.

In some sports a player’s position will require them to lead.

On a rugby pitch your likely to hear the screams of a scrum half organising their forwards, and the teams fly halves calling out plays to the backs. In Rugby Union, the half backs are very much tactical leaders on the pitch, captain or not. The same can be said for a quarterback in American Football, who, when the offence team are on the field, is charged with creating and running set plays. Your quarterback calls all the shots.

Cut out for captaincy?

In this instance, does the natural leadership required to be a quarterback or scrum-half, mean that the role of captain within a Rugby or American Football becomes diminished? Will a captain feel undermined if other members of the team have increased responsibility, or is the ability to keep a team with too many chiefs, a test of a captain’s leadership? Does every sport have a position that natural lends itself to captaincy and if so, why isn’t it the case that the majority of rugby union teams have half-backs as captains, when so many offensive NFL captains are quarterbacks?


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