I’m in it for The Spirit of the Game

It is funny to me how simple group activities can be really fun, or can horrid based on the intent and rules of the group. What is the big difference, say, in pickup sports games (such as basketball or baseball)? The spirit of the game.

In short, rules aside, what is fair for the situation. How can the situation end up in a win win, or at least a ‘no advantage given.’ Let me share a story:

A player in Ultimate Frisbee catches an amazing grab in the endzone at full speed, just dragging their feet just on the line. The person guarding them saw it a bit differently, seeing it just out. “Want to just redo the throw?” one player asks. “Sure.” the other responds.

A win win situation, nobody lost their cool, everyone looks good at the end of the play. If the goal of playing disk is to have fun and make some friends, that this works perfectly. I sometimes hear stories about entrepreneur deals gone wrong, I wonder why business doesn’t embrace the spirit of the game just as several sports.

The reason, is often times nobody is watching.

If a founder gets pushed out by a board, it is in nobody’s interest to write about the experience. And for whatever reason the board decided to push them out (with good reason or not). What stories come out are very negative toward the other party. In other words, in a split both parties are going to bitch to their friends about how horrible the other person is. Kinda like a bitter divorce, so I have noticed. The trend in divorce over the last years has been Collaborative Divorce. Two of the 7 ‘rules’ are as follows:

  • #2 Neither party will take advantage of mistakes by the other side;
  • #3 The parties will freely disclose all pertinent information and will not hide any material facts;

Basically: We are in a situation and both have our goals, what if we both compromise a bit and do it with as much love and understanding as we can. Sounds like the spirit of the game to me.

I was introduced to this term through Ultimate. The 2nd paragraph in the rules shares the title, and has this nugget of wisdom:

Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.

Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions, or other ‘win-at-all-costs’ behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players.

So as the games we play evolve, so does business, or so I hope. Groups are watching, and as the tech frontpage becomes filled with more and more quality people and blogs (yadda yadda social media), so does their voice. (The defense of Blaine Cook comes to mind.)

Hopefully I will have time to expand a bit on this further. Am I on or way off the mark?


Turns out Seth Godin thinks very similar things.






One response to “I’m in it for The Spirit of the Game”

  1. […] I love close games between amazing characters of teams and leaders.  I’ve written about the Spirit of the Game before and really believe […]

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