By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Nov 30, 2010 at 4:10 PM

The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a start that nobody could have foreseen, languishing near the bottom of their division, having trouble scoring and trouble stopping the other team from scoring.

To say that surprise is the predominant reaction is a massive understatement.

The search for answers covers a vast array of causes, but it seems the most significant and popular one is that the Bucks have a lot of new players and they are still working to find a way to effectively play with each other.

What's missing, obviously, is a sense of teamwork.

That state of affairs got me thinking about sports where teamwork is a primary goal, where it's vitally important to the success of a team.

Teamwork is the ability of everybody to focus on a goal and to work cooperatively to achieve that goal. Good teamwork leads to success. And absence of teamwork leads to coaches getting fired.

We can discount individual sports as far as the teamwork discussion goes. A golfer and a caddy have to be on the same page, but that's not what I mean.

Water ballet requires a lot of teamwork, as do water polo and luge, but I'm talking about major sports.

Baseball is off the map because it is such an individual sport. There is, of course, the idea of intellectual teamwork, with a full team believing in the strategies used by a manager. Baseball can be included in that definition but real teamwork takes place on the field of play. I think the three leading contenders are soccer (I can't believe I said that), basketball and football.

Soccer obviously requires some teamwork but the individual activities, from flopping to mugging, are performed without the aid of a teammate. Also, the soccer pitch is so large that intricate teamwork seems superfluous.

Basketball requires a high level of teamwork. Basketball coaches design plays and players have to work with each other to complete those plays. On defense teamwork is especially important as players have to help teammates and step in to cover an unguarded player after his opponent has left him open. There is probably more on-court talking between teammates in basketball than any other sport.

In addition, the non-stop nature of basketball lends itself to a kind of ballet of teamwork with incredible body contact without pads and a grace that is sometimes hard to believe. Is there any play in any sport more beautiful than a well-executed, successful alley-oop? I think not.

Which brings us to the final contender, football. I think the very nature of football makes it the winner in the battle to see which sports requires the highest level of teamwork.

Football is a start and stop game. Eleven players line up on offense. Eleven players line up on defense. Each player has to perform and work with his teammates for a play to be successful. The element of disguise is critical in a football game and that disguise requires an incredible level of teamwork to be successful.

If you've ever seen a coach diagram a play on a blackboard you would shake your head in wonder at the complicated nature of a single play. And there are dozens of them in your average game playbook. What's more, all the players may be required to change the play they expect to run once they get to the line of scrimmage.

It takes an incredible level of teamwork to pull that off, and that's why football narrowly gets my nod as the sport requiring the highest level of teamwork.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.