Tag Archives: Superbowl

What 43-8 Can Teach Us About Winning

Super Bowl I didn’t want to mention the Super Bowl because I know my friends from Europe or Latin America or Canada or Asia or Africa will tune out.

But stick with me. Read on.

When it comes to 43 to 8, we are not talking only about an American football score. We are talking about your market share reaching 43% against your competitors’ 8%; your profit margin versus theirs; your growth in 2014 versus the industry average.

What would it be worth to you if you could produce a 43 to 8 outcome this year?

For those outside of the US or the Americans who tuned out after half-time last Sunday night, 43 to 8 was the final score of the year’s biggest American sports event, the Super Bowl. What most experts believed would be an even bout between the best football offense and defense resulted instead in an outcome so unpredicted, so lop-sided, so contrary to what the mathematics and calculus of the game would suggest, that we must try to understand it, with the hope we can replicate it in whatever games we are playing.

So I spent the day talking to sporting experts, reviewing the coverage, and reading a book written by Pete Carroll, coach of the winning team, the Seattle Seahawks.  I believe there are four key strategic principles at work here that we should considering putting toward our success:

  1. Defense is (usually) easier than offense
  2. Social power is real
  3. Fight yourself, not your competitor
  4. The law of the first quarter

Defense is (usually) easier that offense
An ancient military principle holds that defense is easier than offense. Sun Tzu advises that to attack a walled city, you need 10 times the troops as the defenders. Seattle’s team was statistically the strongest defense in the country and on Sunday they had to prove it. As linebacker Bobby Wagner said, “The only way we could say we were the best defense was to take down the best offense” (source). It’s cheaper to defend customers than steal them, to protect positions than grow them, so when you must make choices, choose to defend your strengths rather than attack others’. What are your strengths? How are you defending them?

Social power is real
Whether you call it soft power or moral force, the ancient strategic principle holds: the more people rooting for you, the greater your chances of success. The Seahawks called this “12th Man,” meaning at any given time their team has 11 men on the field, but their fans, notoriously loud, have the effect of putting a 12th man on their side. The crowd gives them an unfair advantage. There were reportedly more Seahawks fans in the stadium and when they began chanting “L-O-B!” (“Legion of Boom”), their opponents could feel their power.

But the momentum was being built months before with inspiring stories like that of Derrick Coleman, the first legally deaf defensive player in NFL history. When his friends started bullying him for being different, he started trying harder. “It changed my life because I had to really go the extra step, to listen, to focus,” he explained. When people told him he couldn’t play football, he says, “I’ve been deaf since I was three, so I didn’t listen.” When every professional football team passed him up in the draft, he joined as a free agent and worked harder. “If someone tells me I can’t do it … it just makes me want to do it even more.” He became an inspiration for the handicapped nation-wide.

Click here and here for some inspiring videos.

One of my friends told me that when she heard his story she became a Seahawks fan, even though she had no prior relationship to the team. She was not alone.

What purpose is truly worth fighting for?

Fight yourself, not your competitor
Carroll follows an uncommon philosophy shared by a handful of other outstanding coaches and strategists. He doesn’t care about the competition. He doesn’t focus his team on the opponent. Instead, he wants his players to focus on beating their perfect selves. He wants them to strive to reach their full potential and every season, every game, every play, every movement, to seek to close the gap between levels at which we are playing and what we are capable of. The Seattle team played like this all season, calling it “a championship day every day.” If you forget the competition and focus instead on reaching the ideal of which you/your team are capable, what would you do differently?

The law of the first quarter
The first quarter of a game can be definitive. Across innumerable games we see a similar pattern – whoever is ahead at the close of the first quarter is more likely to win the game. If you establish your dominance early, your opponent starts questioning itself. You ignite a narrative of winner and loser, which becomes self-fulfilling. By the close of the first quarter, Seattle had control of this narrative. Only 12 seconds into the game, Seattle was ahead by 2 points (the quickest Super Bowl score in history) and they closed the quarter with a score of 22 to nothing. They had run 61 yards, their opponents only one. They had six first downs, their opponent none.

My favorite quote from Carroll’s book is this: “When you know you are going to win … you can actually perform with a quieted mind in absence of fear.” The Seahawks knew they were going to win. Their opponent was not so sure.

Are you sure you are winning this quarter? If not, how can you make sure that happens?

Inspivid: It’s Halftime in America

Everyday we spotlight one remarkable video to inspire you to fulfill your intentions and improve your life. Do you have a video you’d like to suggest? Send it to us at editor [at] intent.com.

Did you watch the superbowl yesterday? Okay, dumb question, we know. But just in case you were chatting with friends or munching on snacks when this commercial aired, we thought it too good not to share.

“It’s Halftime in America. And our second half is about to begin. All that matters now is looking ahead and finding a way forward.”

Gotham Chopra: Religion of Sports (Part 1 of 2)

God, I f’ing love Sports.

Even though I just endured an epic tragedy watching my beloved Red Sox collapse in historically dramatic fashion, while their little brother Tampa Bay Rays rose to jubilant triumph, I can say that I am believer in the Religion of Sports.

When I was growing up, my dad never understood my obsession with the Celtics, Red Sox, Patriots, and Bruins. He found sports primitive and tribal because of how they appealed to base instincts. He thought it was silly that fans like me invested so much emotion into something we had absolutely no control over. In short, to him it was the most un-spiritual thing possible to be a fan.

Au Contraire, I felt then and still do now. There’s nothing quite as spiritual as being a sports fan if you ask me. To hand yourself completely to something you have no control over whatsoever, to surrender your emotions to something you know may either grace or hurt you so deeply – and do it anyway – is an ultra spiritual act.

What we witnessed tonight – the Red Sox losing in such dramatically spectacular fashion – epitomized my childhood sports experience in a nutshell. All through out my childhood, adloescence and young adulthood, the Red Sox embodied failure. ‘Curse of the Bambino,’ ‘Bucky f’ing Dent,’ ‘Buckner,’ Grady Little in 2003 – this was the vocabulary of failure. The Celtics successes in the 80’s were always buffered by tragedy – deaths to Len Bias and Reggie Lewis. The Bruins were cheap. The Patriots were a source of shame (and scandal)!

And yet, I remained faithful through it all. Ask anyone in my family: my faith never wavered. And starting in January 2002, that faith was rewarded when the fates conspired (along with some refs, backwards rules, and alleged cheating – whatever) to propel the New England Patriots to a historic victory in Superbowl XXXVI.

I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, the last decade has been a good one to the Boston Sports fan – 7 Championships with at least one in every major professional sport. No other city can really claim such collective dominance, and I happily will declare it with arrogance.

Because, as it always does, the pendulum swings. The Mighty fall. The Empire crumbles. Just like the Sox did tonight Mayan calendar style.

Oh well.

If you’ve ever loved a team, then you already know what I’m talking about. And if you watched any of Major League Baseball’s final night of games tonight, then you saw it all for yourself. I had you at ‘hello’ or ‘Red Sox’ or ‘Rays’ or ‘Braves.’

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, trust me, you should get a taste out of this chalice. Because beyond all the big business of sports, the win at all costs mentality, the scandals and steroids, and all the rest, there are also miracles, and mythologies, cathedrals and pilgrimages, moments of agony and transcendent ones too.

And, there’s also always next year.

Go Sox 2012.

Read Religion Of Sports (Part 2 of 2) 

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / Matt McGee

Big Game Tips

I know this is late since the Superbowl aired yesterday, but I still wanted to share my advice about game day tips. These can also be applied to any big event as well.

It is also important to remember that research has shown that six percent of all working Americans will call in sick the day after the Bowl. However, there are some tips you can keep in mind to avoid using one of your “sick” days and to just feel better about yourself while not foregoing your fun Sunday.

The following tips are simple, yet they will help you out in the long “game”:

  • Drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages
  • Eat a full homemade meal or sandwich before leaving the house. The game is long, food is available, at least don’t go in STARVING
  • Eat some veggies between fried foods and cheese balls
  • Play your own game of touch football outside with the kids (or grown kids) before the big game
  • Get sleep before. Sunday night runs late and the work week starts the next morning

Oh, and don’t forget there’s a game on and enjoy spending time with your friends and family.