What could an SME learn from American Football?

An American football pitch

What could an SME learn from American Football?

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In 2022, the Superbowl takes place between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals in the sporting showpiece that will be watched all over the world. However, we know that a fair few of you won’t have watched this sport before. So you may be confused by some of the rules of what can be a complicated game to watch. 

However don’t fear, because this blog will give you the American Football basics and there are a few lessons business owners could learn from it.

A great quarterback can determine the success or failure of a team 

Even if you know next to nothing about American football, we are pretty sure that you have heard of a quarterback. The role of the quarterback is to throw or pass the ball to members of his team with the aim of scoring a touchdown (7 points) or a field goal (3 points). 

It sounds simple, but a truly great quarterback can make all the difference between the success and failure of a team. If the quarterback cannot throw well or gets regularly sacked (basically shoved to the ground by the opposite team's defense) then it is nigh on impossible for a team to do well.

In many ways, a quarterback is like a business owner. Sure, a business might have people who work for it who perform an important role, but it is ultimately the owner who determines the direction and strategy of where everything goes.

It is important that you as the business owner have clear ideas of goals and strategy like an elite NFL quarterback does. 

A good defense is vital 

A football team has two main components: the offense and the defense. Just like in football, the role of the defense is to stop the other team from scoring. A defense consists of two parts: the defensive line (who will attempt to rush the quarterback) and the secondary, whose role will be to stop the offensive players (the ones who catch the ball) from scoring. A great defense can be extremely effective and can limit the opposition from scoring.

A business, just like a football team, needs a strong line of defense to ensure everything functions correctly. In very basic terms, think about things like the person who handles your finance (it may be you). They can be vital in ensuring that your expenses are not going above your revenue and that you’re ultimately making a profit. Think about the person who orders your stock (again, it may be you). They need to be sure they're ordering the correct amount, you you're not short, or have surplus. 

So just like an American football team, arm yourself with a strong defense so nothing in your  business is exposed. 

Imaginative offense can hurt competition 

Now onto the offense. We have mentioned the quarterback, but who are the players who are tasked with scoring from the quarterback throws. These are known as skill players and they are a vital part of any team. This consists of wide receivers, running backs (they run through the middle to get closer to scoring) and tight ends. 

These are typically the players who, along with the quarterback, produce the great scoring moments that people love to watch. They are an NFL team's most natural athletes. 

It is up to you as a business leader to identify talent that can help take you to the next level. This could be individuals who are already showing potential in your business, or individuals you have yet to identify to take on new roles. 

Everyone matters 

An American football team is very large (roughly between 45 and 50 players). There are many positions which are very specialised. So in addition to the offense, you have something known as special teams and even players whose sole role is to kick the ball into the goal. 

But the important thing to note is that every position (no matter how small they seem) matters and can make a difference between success and failure. And this is how you need to view your business. If you have staff, or work with third party suppliers, it’s important to recognise their contributions to your business. 



David Goulden

David Goulden


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