Well, the college football season has begun and our first home game is this weekend at Williams-Brice Stadium. This is the time of year I look forward to the most. Many of you know I am a huge South Carolina Gamecocks fan. Consequentially, most of you know Carolina fans, while very loyal, are often the most disappointed in the country. I have season tickets to the home football games and have told most of my friends the best part of our game is our tailgating. It can pretty much go down hill once the theme from 2001 plays and the players run out on the field.
In 1999, our team was winless for the season (0-11). I should have known it was going to be a terrible year when I overheard one of our players from the sidelines say, every time he heard the national anthem sung… he had a bad game. Still, Gamecock fans are an optimistic bunch – there is after all what we refer to as “wait till next year!” Well it’s here and once again I’m excited.
And we have the ‘Old Ball Coach’ Steve Spurrier that I still believe can, given time, lead us to an SEC Title and maybe a shot at a BCS Bowl Game. Coach Spurrier once told a story about NFL Coach John McKay for whom he played during his NFL player days. McKay coached the winless 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I remember a speech Coach McKay was giving us at one point in the season,” Spurrier said. “He was emphasizing that games are lost in the trenches by failing to block and tackle on the front lines. “As he was talking he noticed a lineman asleep in the back. He called his name, woke him up and asked him ‘Where are most games lost?’ And the lineman says, ‘Right here in Tampa, sir.'”
Our businesses are much like the football team that relies on teamwork. Each employee dependent on the other carrying out his assignment and in some case filling in the holes that might occur on the field. Like football teams, the success of our businesses are won or lost in the trenches with our sales force, marketing, or personal interaction with our customers or clients. A great football team takes months of preparation, drills, and practice before they ever snap the ball in competition. A great business must also train its employees, encourage its staff to sharpen their skills, and create business and marketing plans that gain the advantage on the competition or assists them in better serving the needs of the client or customer.
I’m convinced that the Good Lord made me a South Carolina football fan to keep me humble. However, as the eternal optimist, I do believe if you keep working hard, a lucky break will eventually come your way. One of my heroes Coach Vince Lombardi once told his Packer players, “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” That’s true in business as well as sports. And whether we win or lose will be defined by how we perform in the trenches.