If Sports Ruled the World …

Ken’s Take: Nuts.  Being a sports freak, I wish I had conjured this analogy.

In posts, I’ve mused that the willy-nilly changes in laws — and their contextual application — are injecting “political risk” into business — corporate and personal. 

Bankruptcy laws are ignored (e.g. the UAW cutting the line in front of secured creditors), contracts are ignored (e.g. exec comp pacts), tax laws are changed retroactively, closed legal cases are re-opened when political winds shift.

The question my biz friends are asking: “how can my company commit major investments — human and financial capital — if we’re not sure what the rules will be.”

That’s one of the reasons that the economic recovery will be jobless.  Adding payroll just isn’t worth the risk of game-changing shifts in the rules and their interpretation. 

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Excerpted from WSJ, If Sports Ruled the World, Sept 17, 2009

in the primal world of sports we are all strict constructionists, even as we agree that a discreet judge would have given Serena’s foot fault a pass.

While we all know what the rules are in sports, no one knows anymore what the rules are in real life.

The Austrian novelist Peter Handke reduced the fine line separating freedom from foul to a novel’s title: “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick.”

This is why we watch sports. Not just to see the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, but because it is the one world left with clear rules abided by all.

(Some esthetes would chime in that this is why they listen to classical music where structure rules.)

Compared to sports (and classical music), real life has become constant chaos.

While we all know what the rules are in the sports, no one knows anymore what the rules are in real life.

Not in politics, law, the bureaucracies, commerce, finance or Federal Reserve policy.

Boston lawyer Harvey Silverglate argues in a forthcoming book, “Three Felonies a Day,” that federal law has become such a morass that people in business routinely violate statutes without a clue. Modern law lacks what sports provides lucidity.

The utopia most people want: a rules-based life, with wiggle room.

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Full article:

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One Response to “If Sports Ruled the World …”

  1. Chris Says:

    Careful, this is the thin end of the wedge for the great modernism vs. post-modernism debate…

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