Yes, I’m old school. I believe in integrity, hard work and success based on performance. I place tremendous value on honor and fair play and sportsmanship. That doesn’t mean that I’m not competitive; I am. But in business and in life, I compete in a manner that allows me to sleep at night. Please understand, I’m not bragging. That’s just how I was raised. Plus, I’m convinced that doing things the right way ultimately makes life easier.
That leads me to the subject at hand, the thing that I can’t stand about modern sports: the flop.
What is a flop? By my definition a flop is a physical act by a player that was performed to intentionally deceive a game official into thinking that said player was hit, pushed or in some other manner violated in a way that unfairly disrupts the contest. It is done to gain a competitive advantage, to draw a penalty on the opposing team – when they don’t deserve it. A flop is sort of a testosterone-spiked cocktail consisting of equal parts lying and acting – with a dash of shamelessness.
Sports today is riddled with flops. Football, basketball… European football (soccer) is lousy with them; players drop like those little goats that fall over when they get startled.
Here’s an example of a flop from the National Basketball Association. In this clip, you’ll see Tony Allen, a player for the Memphis Grizzlies, pretend that he has been hit in the face by an elbow from the opposing player. Allen goes above and beyond to “sell” this one to the referees:
As much as I despise flopping by players during sporting contests, I saw that it reached a new low the other day. The head coach of a major college football program flopped during a game last weekend.
Uh huh. The head coach. The leader of the team. A molder of men. An ambassador for the university.
The flop occurred near the sidelines when players from the two teams began to scuffle after a hard hit on a ball carrier. As players began to posture and push at the end of the play, this head coach put his arms up, stepped into a player on the opposing team…and then acted like he had been shoved. The flop had its desired effect as a game official threw a penalty flag against the innocent player for, ironically, unsportsmanlike conduct.
As if the flop wasn’t undignified enough, this head coach twirled, kicked his leg up and fist-pumped to celebrate the fact that he had just swapped his professional reputation for 15 yards of field position. Ugh.
We all have bad moments, behaving in ways that we regret. A real leader admits mistakes, learns from them and moves on. And a real leader proactively establishes boundaries on behavior so that adherence to principles like integrity isn’t sacrificed during the pursuit of success.
Otherwise, as a leader, he’s a flop.