Not a Zero Sum Game

If you ain’t cheating, then you ain’t trying.


Cheating in sports is complicated. We look down on sports governed by subjective judgment (figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, …). But most team sports have rules and officials to enforce those rules. And since the officials are human, there is always a level of subjectivity to their rulings.

In a sport with officials, some cheating isn’t really cheating. This quote reflects acceptance of the reality that there isn’t a bright shining line between legal and illegal, and you push the boundaries to find where the official is drawing the line today. If you’re never offsides, then you’re not being aggressive enough. Flopping is a cheat, but a little embellishment insures that the official is paying attention.

I’d like to think that sports is not a zero-sum game - there has to be a winner, but there doesn’t have to be a loser. What disturbs me about deflategate is that both sides want the other side to be a loser.

I’d like to think that sports teaches us about life. But deflategate is teaching us the wrong lesson.

In a zero sum world, you can convince yourself that favorable payment terms are just good business. But is it necessary to force suppliers to accept net 60 instead of net 30 and pay on the 59th day to boot?

In a zero sum world, you can convince yourself to never leave anything on the table. But is it necessary to squeeze so hard that your supplier’s long term survival is at risk?