Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Put me in Coach, I'm ready to play!

Have you ever noticed how former athletes carry the lessons learned on the field into their professional lives?  I don't think that I could say that everyone does it, but I think in general terms, most competitive athletes continue to feel that competitive drive in everything they do after sports.  The lessons learned stick with them.  It is easy to see a football player ruthlessly pursuing a target and taking it down - whether that target is a business deal to be closed, or a receiver to be tackled.  A basketball player will keep taking those shots, over and over - whether it is by grabbing a rebound and putting it back up, or by continuing to make plans and close deals.

But what about the baseball player?  How does someone who did not play a contact sport turn drive or determination into their business.  I would offer the argument that it is different, and in some cases, a former baseball player might lack the killer instinct required in some settings.

A few thoughts on the sport before I close the loop on this analogy.  Baseball is the only sport where you do NOT control the ball when you are on offense.  When you are on defense, you might spend quite a bit of time just standing around, waiting for something to happen.  Baseball is not a contact sport.  Yes, you might run into the catcher when there is a play at the plate or slide into the second baseman when you are stealing, but there is not real contact.  Similarly, there is no real opportunity for retaliation or self preservation.  In basketball, if someone on defense elbows you when you are going for a lay-up, you have a few options.  You can elbow them back right then, or you can elbow them when you are on defense.  The response can be almost immediate and depending on how closely the refs are looking, can be quite satisfying.  In the "paint" (or the "key") you can be jostling for position - you can actually feel yourself moving others around and the struggle for position is palpable.  You can feel it.  Nothing quite like that happens in baseball.

Baseball is certainly a more sedate game.  People often complain that they don't like to watch baseball because it is boring.  Long stretches of time pass with nothing happening.  When you are playing the game, you sit when your team is on offense, every half inning, unless you are up to bat - and even then your at bat could take mere minutes if you can't connect.  What other mainstream sport allows you to win a game by sitting on your butt?  And how about retaliation?  If a pitcher thinks that you are crowding the plate and buzzes you, you have no immediate recourse.  You can't throw the ball back and "buzz" the pitcher.  You can't do anything, except wait until the other team is up to bat and your pitcher can then buzz someone else.  (You don't even get the opportunity to retaliate for yourself.)  Of course, one way to get back at the pitcher might be to hit it out of the park, or even drive a come-backer right down his throat, but for the most part, you don't get to have your own revenge, and there is no real jostling for position.

The reason I bring this up is because I was a basketball player.  I believe that I have a killer instinct.  I turned that killer instinct toward the law and now get paid to argue and fight for a living.  For the most part, I fight with words and on paper, but every once in awhile, I go to court and argue with other attorneys in front of the judge.  I get pumped up just like I used to when playing sports, and I like it.  I like the rush of adrenaline that comes with knowing my position is the right one, and believing that I am going to win.  Even when dealing with my own clients, I tend to approach things aggressively.  I do sometimes have to remember to slow down and change tactics, as aggression does not suit every circumstance, but I would say that generally speaking, I like to attack.  I think that this instinct comes, at least in part, from my days of playing sports (and more specifically, basketball.) 

Unfortunately, I think that some athletes missed that boat, based solely on their sport of choice.  Baseball.  I have a friend who played baseball competitively and is now an attorney.  There is a situation developing that needs a response.  I look at the situation and see the need for a swift and aggressive response - whether the response is directed at the client, or at the opposing side.  I feel that action, immediate action (i.e. a retaliatory elbow to the nose) is appropriate.  My friend is choosing to take a few steps back and look at the situation (perhaps more calmly assessing things than I would),  and is even considering the outcome of things down the road.  My feeling is that you deal with the "here and now" in the "here and now" and worry about the rest later.  If the guy elbows you now and you don't respond, he will continue to elbow you every time down the court, until you establish your position on the court, by getting your own elbows out... and using them.  Some might argue that where the "other guy" is your client, you want to be more conservative in your approach.  I would certainly never discount that position, but I think it also depends on the situation.

Yes, I'm definitely more aggressive.  I would not say that my friend's approach to this problem is a bad one or the wrong one, or that my approach is a better one or the "right" one.  I mention them only as different ways to approach an issue, and highlight the fact that I think our approaches are in some respects, a result of our backgrounds in sport.  There is no way to know how this situation will play out, until the final buzzer (or until the third out in the 9th is in the books.)  In the meantime, I'll be over in the corner, sharpening my elbows, ready to attack when needed.

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