Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dream Team Offers Miracles?

Labor Day weekend was a sports movie weekend for me.  It wasn't planned that way, of course. However, thanks to Netflix, Moneyball arrived in our mailbox. We followed that with Miracle (1980 gold-medal winning US hockey team).

What intrigued me about both films was that each said the same basic thing but seven years apart. Is that a miracle or a dream?

The 1980 hockey team was made up of amateurs. As the movie stated, with professionals now winning gold medals, there are no Olympic dreams for young athletics. The "dream" label is applied slap-dash to professional teams without regard to the deeper meaning. If someone aspires to play hockey in the Olympics, they must first become a pro hockey player. The same is true of basketball and many other sports in the Olympics. Not a pro? No medal dreams for you.

A similar point was made in Moneyball.  Desparate to level a playing field ruled by wealthy teams like the Yankees, the Oakland A's devised a new method of selecting players for their team. Their advantage didn't last long.  As soon as the big money teams saw the validity of the analytical method, they adopted it and threw money at it.  Goodbye advantage. The A's were right back where they started, unable to compete for players and serving as a glorified farm system for well-heeled teams.

What do these two films tell us? What are they trying to communicate?

  • First, the movies show us a bit of our history, one about which I know very little. 
  • Second, we meet some fascinating people that I wouldn't mind actually knowing. 
  • Third, we see that sport is business.  Wins or medals are the way we determine our success. Being part of the game is not enough. How the game is played is no longer the point. The only goal is winning. 
  • Fourth, neither approach to hiring and management is inherently bad if properly applied. Using the Moneyball and Miracle theories, business could create winning teams using employees who are overlooked or sidelined by traditional hiring methods. Perhaps an older worker is ideal because she doesn't want your job. She just wants to work. Worried she will leave for something better? She won't. She's beyond the point of climbing the ladder. Or how about the guy who's a little off beat. Perhaps his quirkiness is exactly what your team needs. Perhaps that oddity allows him to throw a strike every time.
There are many lessons here. Wow - I thought I was merely watching two good movies.

No comments: