Review Category : Sports

What Can Business Learn from Football?

The Super Bowl has just come and gone leaving me with fond memories of Scarlett Johansson and a new Soda Stream machine (take that, Pepsi!). The media buildup to the game with its endless hours of deep analysis inevitably applied 10³¹ (I counted) sports metaphors to business management and strategy.

What can business learn from football? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But that won’t stop people from applying sports metaphors to business.

It takes less time than an instant replay to reveal that those metaphors are mostly empty. Yes, football and business involve team play. So does kindergarten. Aside from that, football (or baseball, or synchronized swimming) has nothing to do with business. It is a limited duration contest, while business is unending. It ends in decisive victory, while it is far from clear what victory even looks like in business. It deploys physical moves that have no parallel in business. What, “go left and then run straight” is a lesson business should heed? Most importantly, football requires playing by rigidly enforced rules and regulations. There is nothing to innovate.

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