Sports Alalogies LO16493

Jo Hamill (
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 10:30:26 +0000

Replying to LO16466 --

Juan wrote:

>2. Sports teams always play for short terms. Businesses have a 20
>or 30 year survival concern and executive reputations rise and fall
>on how well the organization prepares for what might be called "an
>entirely new game".
> This is not a big concern in sports.

Here we have the crux of the problem associated with using sports teams as
analogies. Whilst the sports season may be short, the teams do not
dissolve from one season to the next. Individual athletes may come and go,
but teams are around for years, just like businesses. Sports teams have a
survival concern, and reputations of coaches and managers rise and fall
dependent on results. Even in amateur sports, the survival of coaches
depends on their reputation.

As rules change and the incentives to win increase, sport too faces the
"entirely new game" phenomenon eg the move from amateur to professional
status in Rugby Football.

> 3. Sports teams are limited in the resources they can "field".
> Organizations can acquire entirely new kinds of resources with which to be
> competitive. This is such an important consideration for businesses - it
> encompasses new technology, new knowledge, and new resources - that a
> sports analogy over simplifies what must be done in the business model.

Aren't businesses limited by the resources they can "field"? Sports teams
can acquire entirely new kinds of resources too. Technology plays its role
in the sports world, tennis rackets are the best example I can think of at
the moment, where technology has provided the competitive advantage, track
shoes are another, oh yeah and Speedo's new swim costume.

Trouble with analogies is that they are just that, analogies. They are
illustrative in their nature, problems occur when managers try to apply
the sports analogy instead of interpreting it.

The sports analogy is fine if used sensibly, just like any other analogy.

Jo Hamill
Faculty of Medicine, Edinburgh.


"Jo Hamill" <>

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