Sports Analogies LO16567

Dr. Steve Eskow (
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 07:57:24 -0500

Replying to LO16481 --

Steve Levy supports Juan's contentions that the differences between sports
and business are so large as to make sports analogies useless and
misleading, and wonders why we insist on using such "inadequate or
incorrect terminology."

When I say the clock on the wall has "hands" and a "face" it could be
pointed out to me that I am using terminology that is incorrect. When I
say that "my love is like a red, red rose,"am I forgetting that my love
has no green leaves or thorns? (Oh, maybe she has thorns.)

All metaphors--including such not-so-hidden metaphors as "learning
organization"--can be shown to be the bringing together of two
fundamentally unlike events or objects or structures, and thus it always
can be taken for granted that they can be shown to be so different that
the metaphor is "inadequate or incorrect."

Perhaps the question,then, is not whether the metaphor is "correct," but
whether it usefully points to certain similarities which give us insight
into the dynamics of that with which we are concerned: my love, the clock,
my colleagues in business.

Thus: the team analogy, despite the differences which Juan accurately
noted, gives me a vocabulary for thinking and talking about my colleagues.

A colleague, for example, who doesn't attend meetings, grumbles about not a "team player." That characterization, for all its
inadequacies, gives me a "handle" (another metaphor which is "incorrect")
on that colleague.

I, for one, resist the biological metaphor because it doesn't similarly
give me a useful vocabulary to think through and with, one that helps me
characterize situations, events, colleagues.

If I carry my metaphor too far, if I fail to realize Juan's differences,
I'll make serious mistakes.

Those errors are like my kissing the face of the clock and trying to put
my love in a vase of water.

Steve Eskow

Dr. Steve Eskow
President, The Electronic University Network
288 Stone Island Road
Enterprise, Florida 32725
Phone: 407-321-8770; Fax: 407-321-4861


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