P.O. Box 1387 (30298) 121 Royal Drive Forest Park, GA 30297
A BEAUTIFUL GAME
FOOTBALL AND BUSINESS
was from my younger days. I popped out of the scramble with one hand on the ball, and the other holding up my pants. I got through that play without fumbling either important piece of equipment, but, after the game, my father asked me, “What would you do if you needed both hands to hold up your pants?”
I have a habit of watching all sports, even when I don’t want to. Take golf, for example, I think it’s the most boring game on the planet. But if I’m at a restaurant and there’s a PGA match on, I’ll be utterly absorbed by it. This drives Margaret crazy. “I thought you hated golf?” she’ll ask. And I’ll reply that I do, all while watching Tiger take another swing. But if there’s one sport I’ve never minded getting lost in, it’s football. Unpacking why I love the game feels a little strange. Growing up in Georgia and asking someone why they like football is like asking someone why they like sunshine; it’s just a great part of life. But if I have to delve into it, the contact is probably what puts the game above other sports in my book — it certainly makes for good TV. But deeper than that, the strategy and mentality it takes to play football is very similar to what it takes to be a small-business owner. There are a lot of important lessons in football, and I learned my first when I was 5 years old. Playing safety in peewee football isn’t exactly exciting. Nobody breaks through the defensive line at that level of play, so my job was to sit on my helmet 20 yards away from the line of scrimmage and wave at the fans. Still, the handful of moments I did have to go after an opposing player really wore me out. Halfway through the season, I asked my father if I could quit. I still remember what he told me. “You’re committed to the season,” he said. “Stick it out to the end.” Those of you who knew my father probably aren’t surprised by this. John E. Lunsford Jr. wasn’t a quitter, and he was keen on passing that attitude down to me. By the time I finished my first year of football, I discovered my love for it. I kept playing all the way through junior high school. I had a few memorable plays in my football “career,” as short as it was. I broke the record for the longest touchdown run on our school’s 80-yard field, running the ball all the way from our own 5-yard line, for instance. Still, the story my father liked to tell best
“I’d drop the ball,” I told him. Even at that age, I had my priorities in order.
Spoiler alert: I never grew into an all-pro high school athlete, and my longest-lasting trophies from football were leg injuries. But if I had the chance to do it all over again, I’d take it in a heartbeat. The lessons I learned from my time playing, from teamwork to game plans, still underpin the work I do to this day. Jack Daly’s books have really drawn a parallel between the sport and the challenges of running a business. Not only do you have to have a game plan broken down into plays, but you also have to give your team the flexibility to adapt as situations change. If the sales department drops the ball, service needs to be there to recover it. When the snap gets fumbled, you don’t see linemen standing around pointing fingers; they dive on the thing! It all comes down to having a team you trust to always keep their eye on the prize. I couldn’t be prouder of the team we’ve put together here at Pye- Barker. We have some truly adaptable individuals who never mind having to call an audible if it means making a difference for the customer. As we head toward football season and the fourth quarter of 2019, we’ll keep moving the chain toward growth (with my pants firmly in place).
1-800-282-9784 • www.pyebarker.com
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