Long-Term vs Short-Term in Sports
About a week ago, I heard ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd on my way to the airport. He was ranting about the stupid business decisions (his opinion) that Major League Baseball has made as a sport. Cowherd is often a gasbag who likes to talk about himself more than sports, but he made some interesting points that we can tie to Lean.
He complained that MLB has recently taken a very “short-term view”, which is hurting them in the long term. These actions include:
- Not caring that home runs had skyrocketed (steroids, anyone?) because they were happy that tickets were being sold.
- Scheduling playoff and World Series games to start really late on the East Coast (almost 8:45 PM), meaning kids aren’t able to stay up for the ends of games.
Cowherd argued mainly about the TV start times and how, while in the short-term advertising revenue is higher (because of the late time slot, plus the impact that has on starting late enough for West Coast viewers), it’s hurting baseball in the long term because they’ve “lost an entire generation of new fans” who didn’t get hooked on baseball in the last 15 years. East Coast kids (now 18-29 or so) aren’t watching baseball at all, Cowherd claims, seeing the TV ratings breakdowns.
He said Baseball is “like a bad businessman who focuses only on the short term” and said that the NFL, by comparison, has been outstanding at focusing on the long term. The NFL’s dominance is proof of that, he says, that football is now the “national pastime,” not baseball.
Cowherd obviously didn’t make a Toyota tie, but keep in mind the first principle of The Toyota Way:
- Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
Does anyone think the NFL is doing that? Or are they just not as short-term focused as MLB? If you were the commissioner of either league, what would you do to better manage for the long term?