Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is Too Much Winning Too Much?

We've been winning a lot this Summer and Fall in New England: Red Sox won the World Series, New England beat the Colts earlier today to remain undefeated (and reinforce the chatter that they may very well be the "best football team ever"), and the Boston College Eagles are ranked high atop the College Football charts. Why, even the Celtics appear to have a legitimate shot at reversing their poor fortunes (the seeds of which were sown WAY back with the death of Len Bias).

People around here are naturally thrilled about our recent winning ways: So thrilled that they have come to expect wins as a natural outcome, rather than the result of extremely hard work and a healthy dose of luck.

Fans of the Sox, the Pats, the Eagles and the Celtics seem so smug that their teams won, win, or will win simply because "they're better than the other teams." The players on these teams know better... Would the fans understood the kind of commitment--and the luck--required to win.

A similar conundrum confronts winners in the business world. Where the public sees a business that is profitable year in, year out, they may not see the leaders who toil every day to maintain their competitive edge.

Sometimes the urge to keep winning and the burden of expectations make athletes or business leaders engage in illegal or unethical activities to keep winning or to stay on top: Doping in the Tour de France, videotaping other teams' plays, stealing signs, "writing off" debt, steroids, point shaving, taking a car for payment instead of cash, the list is endless.

Don't get me wrong: I'd much rather win than lose. I just wouldn't cheat to keep winning. Winning isn't worth compromising my integrity.

I enjoyed watching the Sox win the World Series. Watching the Patriots (even when they crush 'my' Redskins) is a treat. I like the way Allen passes to Pierce who dishes to KG. I don't expect they'll keep winning, season after season.

I just hope that when they start losing, as is inevitable in any profession, that they lose with dignity--and they encourage their fans to understand that sometimes, too much winning is in fact too much.

No comments: