To not work alone, but rather, together with others in order to achieve a goal.
Example: Ethan was practicing with his high school basketball team. While they were playing, their coach identified a major weakness in Ethan’s play—he hogged the ball for himself and refused to pass to his team in many cases. Thus, the coach said to him, “There’s no I in team, Ethan. Get your team more involved by passing the ball to them.”
Origin Of – There’s No I In Team
It is likely that this phrase comes from sports, where groups of players come together as a team to accomplish a specific goal. The oldest writings of this saying that I could find come from the 1960s, and it looks to nearly always be used in the context of sports. For example, in the Daily Review newspaper, 1960, it mentions a particular rule that a pitcher named Verron Law from the Pirates baseball team had:
“One of his most famous rules, although Law would be the first to admit it did not originate with him, is ‘There is no ‘I’ in team.’ Perhaps that one rule is the reason why the Pirates are out in front, winning the pannant, not backing into it.”
From the other newspapers I’ve looked at, this phrase is frequently used by coaches, players, and even newspaper writers to imply how victory is achieved not by any single individual, but through the players coordinating their efforts together. Another example comes from Titusville Herald, 1960, where it says:
“It is refreshing to see St. Joe realize there is no ‘I’ in teamwork.”
- Stu wanted to make a delicious dinner for his family but he wasn’t a good cook. So his wife told him “there’s no I in team” and joined him to help prepare the meal.
- Bronson is always hogging the ball. Because he rarely passes, his team is missing out on many scoring opportunities. The coach needs to tell him that there’s no I in team, otherwise he’ll never improve his teamwork skills.
Note: We have the meaning of hundreds of common phrases and idioms, plus learn the origin of many of them. That’s what Know Your Phrase is about in a nutshell. However, did you know that a phrase’s origin is sometimes unclear?
In such cases, here’s what will happen: If there are any plausible sounding theories floating around for how an idiom formed, these will be included on the page. If no theories exist, then a quote will typically be included on the idiom’s page. These are usually the oldest appearances of the phrase that I could find.
Moreover, If you see a quote on here that is from an old book or newspaper, this does not mean the saying necessarily originates from that source. In all likelihood, if an expression is already in use in a book or newspaper, then it’s probably older. These old quotes serve as a way to show the reader how far back in history some of these sayings go.