Winning Isn’t Everything. No, Really. It Isn’t.

November 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

“Would need a job today.”

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Vince Lombardi’s famous quote will always resonate with me.  As a kid, I played travel hockey and some football through school.  Every coach I remember pushed winning.  Win! Or else! Nothing felt worse than losing back then.

I say back then because I believe in today’s world, winning has taken a backseat to profit.  As legendary a coach as Lombardi was, today he would be playing by a different set of rules and answering to a different kind of owner.  In 2012, Lombardi, and his winning attitude, would have very well been unemployed.

Obviously, the Miami Marlins fire-sale trade is the inspiration behind this post.  If you’re a Marlins fan (echo…) you have to be completely disgusted with what has happened.  That’s fair.  You invest time and money into seeing a winning product.  Being in close proximity to Buffalo and hearing the continuous gripes of long suffering Bills fans, we can relate.

None of us will be able to fully understand what goes through the mind of someone who has the wealth of a pro sports franchise owner.  But I can say with confidence, maintaining or, better yet, increasing their wealth is more important than winning on the field.

Here is a team with super star talent that under-performed.  Now, they have the chance to fall short of expectation somewhere else.  They’ve been replaced by less expensive prospects who will give it their all just for the shot of being a part of something special.  Some of these star players may have just relocated their families after joining the team a year ago.  Now, due to their inflated contracts and lack of performance, they’re off to Canada.

Don’t confuse winning with success.  Even though many organizations appear to be losing, they are successful.  The Miami Marlins are an example of that.  Though consistency has been hard to come by on the field, they’ve been one of the most profitable franchises in sports.  Notice that while super star talent was shipped out of town, them team’s upper management remains in tact.

Jerry Jones hasn’t won anything of significance in the NFL since the mid-90’s.  Fans scream for him to relieve himself of his day to day general management duties.  Why should he? His monument sells out and he continues to increase his wealth. The Dallas Cowboys winning a championship would be the equivalent to striking oil.  Found money. Oh, by the way, Jerry Jones is extremely successful.

Ralph Wilson owns your soul and knows it.

Closer to home, the Bills have been pumping out losing teams since Clinton was in office.  Every year, futility is the rule.  Yet, every year, you’re there for them.  You can’t help yourself.  You hope this is the team that will fill an empty part of your life.  Ralph Wilson, or any wealthy owner for that matter, knows that, expects that, and preys on that emotion.

“I’ll stop supporting this team of they don’t win!”

Cool.  We’ll just restructure, reinvent, and take our interests somewhere else where they can grow.

It’s business.  And in business, winning isn’t everything.  Money is.

Think about your goals.  If you’re as competitive as I am, your instinct is focused on winning. Now, think about them again through the filter of someone who only looks at bottom lines.    Your goal may shift from, “I want to win!” to “I want to win while providing value!”

The latter is far less sexy, but that’s the mental adjustment we need to make to ensure survival.