American Football Misconceptions & Business Parallels

No need to explain this in America, but if you’re reading this article from outside the U.S. yesterday was a huge sports day in the United States — the Super Bowl XLV day. As tweeted during the first minutes of the game, after three years of living in this country yesterday was actually the first time I watched a game of American football from start to finish. It was a good game, and from what I could tell, the winner deserved the win. But getting into an amateur analysis of yesterday’s game is not my today’s goal.

Today I’d like to look at three misconceptions that I’ve had (and I’m sure many others do) about American football before yesterday. I will also attempt to make parallels between the actual reality of things and business (and marketing, in particular).

Before yesterday I have had the following 3 misconceptions (and I’m sure my love towards the “proper” football, aka “soccer” in North America, has contributed to it quite a bit):

1. Brutality — I expected football to be extremely brutal. Like ice hockey, you know? One of my biggest surprises of yesterday’s night was that it isn’t anywhere as barbarous as I thought. In fact, even during a game as important as the Super Bowl, players of the opponent teams were often extremely respectful. Why can’t we be the same in business? Not to point fingers at anyone, but so often competitors choose to act plain ugly towards one another.

2. Lack of Strategy — Oh, what a misconception! Just as any team game, American football is greatly dependent on strategy (lots of planning, monitoring, smart positioning, playing with the ball, etc). How developed is your business (or marketing) strategy today? Are you actively employing competitive intelligence? Do you set benchmarks, and have clear short- and long-term plans in place? How structured is your way of doing business, after all?

3. Lack of Flexibility — While being an extremely physical sport, American football also relies a lot on flexibility (both as the plastic of individual players, and as the flexibility of the team as a whole — to adapt to the external circumstances). How plastic/flexible is your way of doing business today? Do you monitor the latest trends (to see and seize opportunities), and employ them for your competitive advantage and growth? Are you truly flexible to adjust your strategy when it’s needed?

I believe there’s much to learn from any team sport, and American football is certainly no exception.

If I have missed things that you believe belong here, your comments are certainly warmly welcomed.

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