Winning Really Isn’t Everything
Dec 17, 2012Posted by james

More youth sports teams are focusing on sportsmanship rather than winning games and championships. Managers, coaches, parents and the leagues realize that this has its own rewards.

I recently learned about two teams from New York that stress sportsmanship. The Sand Gnats is a little league minors division baseball team from White Plains and the Putnam Valley Tigers is an under-12 girls soccer team.

The manager of the Sand Gnats is a pastor.

“When [the pastor] informed me that my son…would be on his baseball team, I knew the focus would be about character and not about winning,” said one parent to a reporter at a local newspaper.

An example of the pastor’s teaching of sportsmanship occurred when he responded to over-zealous cheering by his players during a game. He walked to the bench and told the players that they should not make the other team feel bad, and then he said that if it continued he would forfeit the game.

From this once incident, a player later said that he learned the importance of always showing kindness. He said that it is easy to be kind when thought is given to actions and having the knowledge that words can affect others.

For the record, the team won every game, including the championship. But all the players were more satisfied that they played their games the right way—with kindness and respect for other teams.

A little farther north, the girls won the East Hudson Youth Soccer League Division 2 title. But winning was secondary for them.

“What makes this team extra special is the true sportsmanship, commitment, encouragement and love they have for each other,” said a parent about the girls on the team. “Through the good, they would laugh, jump, smile and cheer with joy. Through the bad, they would embrace one another, smile, and say, ‘It’s OK, we gave it our all.’ If one was hurt, all were hurt.”

In sports, when only winning or personal success are the end game, sometimes the biggest reward is lost—self-respect and the respect for others. The same is true in business. Whether you work with an internal team or collaborate with outside partners, mutual respect always is a winning formula that delivers rewards.


A Hockey Stick Is Planted In Brooklyn
Dec 03, 2012Posted by james

While the New York Islanders have planted their hockey sticks in Brooklyn to begin play at the Barclays Center during 2015, this will not be the first time that a professional puck has been dropped in the borough.

The Brooklyn Americans, known to fans as the Amerks, played in the borough as a last gasp before phasing into nonexistence. The team started as the New York Americans during 1925 and became the second U.S. team in the National Hockey League after the Boston Bruins. They played at a new Madison Square Garden, and they were such a hot commodity that the Garden got another team—the New York Rangers.

The Amerks were consistent losers over 15 years and had plenty of financial problems. The end of the prohibition period cut into the main business of the team’s bootlegger owner. He put the team on the market. With no takers, Bill Dwyer just walked away from the team. By 1941, the team’s manager was selling players to raise cash. To prevent the league from dropping the team, he decided to move to Brooklyn.

Unfortunately, Brooklyn did not have an arena for hockey. The 1941-1942 season was played at MSG but the practice facility was moved from New Jersey to the Brooklyn Ice Palace on Atlantic and Bedford avenues. The manager hoped that this would build a buzz for the game and the team. An arena was planned for after the war.

The outcome—a last place finish with a 16-29-3 record and a roster depleted by the war—forced the league to suspend the team. The NHL door was left ajar for a revived Americans team, but this never developed. An arena was not built in Brooklyn. The Ice Palace building was rented to a scenery-design company. Today, the site, a mile from the Barclays Center, is a parking lot.

Since that time, a lot has happened. After all these years, NHL hockey finally will settle in Brooklyn. Though the Islanders, similar to the Amerks, once had a shady owner, this deal to keep the team on Long Island involved an owner who knows how to run a business.

Sometimes old ideas are worth revisiting. With new information and a change in conditions, a tweak of an old idea can result in a win-win situation for investors and owners, the economy and all the others who benefit from good and timely business decisions.

With this move, the expectation is that the Islanders will attract better players to a state-of-the-art arena located close to Manhattan, and that the team will win many more games each season and play deep into the playoffs. The Islanders might again compete for the Stanley Cup, the value of the franchise will rise and the NHL will not need to move or fold another franchise.

Only fans of the Rangers might not like this outcome.