In sports, the captain is considered the leader. The person who is responsible for the team during their game or competitive output. They are the manager’s mouthpiece, the one who will drive the team to win when facing defeat.
When a friend of mine asked the question, do captains of football teams matter these days, I duly fell down the rabbit hole.
I looked at the list of captains that had won the English Premier League since it began and saw a list dominated by central defenders. The average personality, the footballing phenotype was that of the hard man, the rock em sock em type. Pull you up by your bootstraps and hang you by them if you fail. They set the standards, command your respect and demand your attention let alone application.
For me we are in the era where that role has been greatly reduced and leaders now need to be throughout the team. They need to be able to communicate in more than one way. A prime example would be Ander Herrera (currently a Manchester United player) who will have his arm around a player one minute and have strong words with others in the next. All of this while looking to do his own job on the field of play.
I believe captains should be emblems of their team. The game is more cerebral now. It takes poise, speed of thought and skill to truly play at the highest level. In ice hockey we are no longer in the era of the enforcer, a player who exists solely for the rough stuff. In modern business we are no longer in the era of just whipping the work force until they get to the level you want them to be.
Masculinity has evolved to allow a greater range of types to make the team. It has evolved to grant the diversity of voice or playing style, a degree of value, and the ability to work without fear.
A captain may epitomize the team’s hard work or even their manager’s style. Those familiar with ice hockey will note the use of the letter C and A. With several assistant captains, the emphasis is on not being a 1 man team from a leadership perspective.
With that in mind, I consider a potential winner of the 2018/19 season, Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson and what he stands for. I see him as a “keep it simple” captain who prefers to lead by example. He’s not a brand, he’s an honest fellow and that’s it. While he may have been usurped in terms of visibility, a Jordan Henderson may be all you need to get a tune out of the rest of the team.
An architect will create a blueprint but you’ll need a labourer with knowledge of tools and materials to build. Who’s the captain? Is it the one who screams at you to get it done or the one that spots something to be done, communicates this to the team and fills in the gaps if necessary?
We like to think of ourselves as the captains of our own ships. If that’s the case, what are you doing to ensure that the team on the journey with you is doing what it needs to?