Basketball Season: Real-World Application of Business-Sports Analogies

I always love talking to adults who played high school sports and listen to them reminince about Friday night games, the big crowds, the close games that went the other way, the ref who blew the call in the 4th quarter. I love it because I know am I living those experiences right now and to hear people talk about their memories it helps me think about what kind of memories do I want to create right now.

Last year, I was the only sophomore on the varsity basketball team who started and got big minutes. I also was chosen to the 2nd Team All League group. These two things prompted the coach to name me co-captain of the team along with another senior this year. This is a very unusual move as juniors are rarely captains if there are other seniors on the team. But, I know I earned it, and I know that I will be able to be a strong leader on the team.

It is great to get back into the daily basketball world after being immersed in the business world since March. In the business world, people say “Let’s punt on this point and bring it up in the next presentation” or “We need a score here or else this deal will go into overtime.” It seems like every business situation could be compared to a game of ‘hoops or football or soccer. I like when people use a sports analogy – hey, people understand things better when you talk in a lingo that they appreciate…a basic tenet of oral anthropology.

My co-captain position on this year’s team will also allow me to apply some of the leadership lessons I’ve accumulated over the years. Beacuse of the nature of my company and my current role in it, it is not always easy for me to read a great leadership article and then apply it the very next day. Over the next four months, I will be able to do that.

Like in any business environment, there are substantial interpersonal issues which need to be flushed out. Egos getting in the way. People pissed about playing time. One person is pissed that I was named captain and is trying to systematically undermine my credibility. Over the past week I’ve been meeting with the coaches and my co-captain to finalize the rosters. Today, with the team set, we will be doing a goal-setting exercise.

I do need to be cautious not to be toooo business like in my approach this year for the team. Occassionally friends from school will say “Jeeze Ben, stop taking such a business-like attitude.” My automatic reaction to anything is to make sure everyone is really organized, everyone is communicating, milestones, goals, progress, etc etc. This approach is not always congruent to how people in school approach projects which is usually: First, procrastinate. Second, procrastinate. Third, and most important, procrastinate.

Over the next four months I may share some of my experiences as I work to create a close-knit team and a team that achieves excellence on the court.

1 comment on “Basketball Season: Real-World Application of Business-Sports Analogies
  • Do I have a book for you! I’m a manager at Jossey-Bass/Wiley and we’re publishing The Two-Minute Drill by Clint Longenecker (available in August). It’s a guide for managers on executing successfull and fast organizational improvement based on America’s greatest game–football.

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