Business And Sports: A Comparative Analogue

I love formula one car racing. Some folks are passionate about soccer, I mean football. I watch football too and I enjoy it. The thing about sports is that you first go out to have fun and exercise and entertain and compete. Then the business side, lots of money from gate takings, bets are made, endorsements, branding, advertisement, so many other businesses spring up around them.

However, have you considered the sporting strategies and compare with business strategies? Remember the 2010 German grand prix, Fernando Alonso driving for Ferrari had to win. Filipe Massa while in front of Alonso and Alonso effectively blocking off the next rival was ‘merely’ told that “Fernando is faster than you”, and he got it, he pulled back or I mean somehow Alonso overtook him, and Fernando Alonso won.

The obvious thing about sport is the win or the loss. It seems to always come to that but so many intrigues and strategies. To win, we block the opponent. We make false moves and swerve the opponent. We slow it down sometimes. We pull full throttle to gain vantage position. We capitalise on an opponent’s gaffes.

Oh yes, we defend position, we go on the offensive. We look for the weak areas. When it’s over, we shake hands, hug, say nice things about the opponent and congratulate them. Remember the track from the famous musical group Abba, yeah “the winner takes it all …the looser standing small”, but we are all sportsmen and women.

Quite often, when the game starts, we size ourselves up, of course a lot had been done studying the pitch, race tracks, playing fields and pools and like we get off with the business after the feasibilities, the checks and the questions, we start off with some knowledge and of course, expectations. We meet at the field or track of business and suddenly realise it isn’t as we thought. We need to stay in the competition, we advertise more, we tell it to our friends, and acquaintances. We spy the competitors and see what makes them tick, we adapt and adopt as quickly as possible.

The players put us on the defensive, they intimidate, out-campaign us, and boy we work so much harder just to stay there. But we respect the competitors, pretend to be humble and smile when we meet but wonder on the podium while the winner seem to be standing tall, standing strong we are standing small!!!

It’s cool to play the attack. It’s all going well. The market forces are blowing in our favour. We are hot on a new business product or innovation. We push the envelope of the competition. We make more incursions into the ‘enemy’ territory. We give bonanzas; we seal deals, make more promotional plans and advertorials telling of the difference we make.

To be on the offensive has its own weakness though. We get too confident and forget to defend. We take market forces for granted; after all we are sailing with the wind! Boom! And then comes the new kid on the block. A new product! New innovation! A big hype in the competitor’s advert. A goof on our side and we are losing market share.

Faintly we hear some folks just set up bringing a big brand from across the other side of the country. A change in our clients strategy throwing us into irrelevance (remember how the Japanese and Korean Companies – Fuji, Samsung and co virtually runoff Intels from the semi-conductor business?) and so many different reasons.

The fact is the competition never rests. Too dynamic, they keep clawing, nudging, pinching, a little gain here and there and they become bolder. We organise a retreat, get to the locker room, to the dressing room, a call for break. We do pep talk, leadership retreat, set up project teams to review our product lines, etc, etc!

The game is over! No temporarily! It’s Christmas and New Year break. We make merry, even send our competitors season greetings cards. Another season, new players, new sign on, new employees, new rules, and …
Like Abba sang … “the game is on again”.
How do you compare sports with business? How does it compare in your mind, in your own view?

Akin-Longe, Business consultant and Managing Director of T&D Presss Ltd, Port Harcourt.

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