Why Is Football So Important to So Many? (And Why it Should Matter to You as a Leader)

 

We’ve reached the time of year where it seems the only thing people want to talk about is football, whether it be the NFL, college or even high school.

As the season winds down, it seems as if passions and the level of conversation only warm up even more.

So why is football so important to so many people?

I think it comes down to three things. First, a desire to feel part of something; second, the fun of following winners and third, because everyone else is following football!

I don’t have any definitive research to say the three reasons I’ve listed are accurate, but I’ll stick with them, as I feel that these three mirror society in general.

Full disclosure: I grew up in Seattle (Seattle Seahawks – NFL), lived in Eugene (Oregon Ducks), lived in Knoxville (Tennessee Vols), currently live in Nebraska (Nebraska Cornhuskers), and sent my money to Waco via my daughter’s tuition (Balylor Bears).

So yes, I’m part of the football conversation.

Now, let’s get back to how all of this fits into you as a leader.

People want to belong, and even bigger, they want to belong to something they can believe in and others can believe in, too.  Conversely, if people don’t see something as a winner, they are quick to abandon it.

Growing up in Seattle, I remember that the Seahawks were an afterthought. Nobody paid attention to them and they served mainly as a distraction if you didn’t have anything else to do.

Then the ownership changed, and along with it came new management and coaching, and 10 years later the Seahawks own Seattle. One reason I believe they own Seattle is not just the better team on the field, but the fact the community as a whole didn’t have anything else to rally behind.  They lost the Sonics, the Huskies were down and the Mariners’ glimmer of success was dying.

People were hungry to rally around something.

Let’s look at the Baylor Bears.

The first time I attended a game at Floyd Casey Stadium, half the seats were covered with a tarp and the other half of the seats were still barely half full.  They had a strange ritual where the freshmen rush the field before the game and then are allowed to sit in the best seats in the house.

Strange?  I’d say it was smart, as they knew they would have to indoctrinate freshmen early if there was any chance to keep them engaged later as upperclassmen.  Remember, this was a team that couldn’t win a game.

Overnight, something happened. The school changed management, president, AD, and ultimately coach, and once again, Baylor is a powerhouse people want to follow.

As a leader, are you creating an environment people want to belong to?

Is it an environment this feels like a winner?  Is it an environment people are talking about?

Second, as a leader, are you creating numerous leaders? Nobody excels in football by themselves.  It takes not only players on the field, but leaders off the field, and it starts at the top.  Seahawks — a new owner; Baylor — a new university president.

Leadership starts at the top and moves its way all the way through the organization.

Do you surround yourself with fellow leaders?

Third, successful organizations have a unified objective and a clear vision that allows everyone to be part of it.

The Seahawks have the “12th Man” — a shout out to the fans known for making the stadium a difficult place for opponents to play.  Baylor has a vision built around the leadership displayed by their coach.   You can’t talk to one Baylor fan who doesn’t have a story about Coach Briles and the players and how their leadership has impacted them personally.

Does your team embrace the vision and objectives you’re laid out?

Football and leadership, yes there are numerous paralells and things we can learn as leaders by being part of the football conversation.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

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