The Maslow’s Needs Pyramid For Success In Professional Sports

Posted: June 18, 2011 in General Sports

I remember back in 1st year psychology learning about this “Maslow’s Needs” and it was usually illustrated via a pyramid. Well I’ve sorta done the same thing, but it’s a pyramid of success in sports and it has 3 tiers – at the bottom, 50% is money, in the middle is intelligence at 30% and the remaining 20%, at the top, is passion. Boston for years had passion and money but not the intelligence. Then guys named Belicheck and Epstein and Danny Ainge showed up. Money’s obviously the most important thing today because you need elite talent. Intelligence is crucial because sports now, professionally, are such a big business. You have a lot of smart people now going into it – like in baseball, a lot of these guys who are GM’s are Ivey League prep school guys, and it’s become a tipping point. When it comes to passion, fans = revenue, and it’s the fans and the media that create a passion that then holds local teams accountable.

Like if you’re from Seattle, I would say they’re about a C to C- in terms of passion. There’s plenty of money in Seattle. Paul Allen owns the Seahawks. I believe he’s one of the 10 richest guys in the world. So the money and the smarts are there, but the passion isn’t, whereas Boston’s an A+ in all 3. I mean, it’s an intellectual/technology hub, but they didn’t have the Epstein’s, the Belichecks and the Danny Ainge’s until recently.  On the other hand, New York has always had passion and has always had money in the truck loads, but they’ve lack intelligence which has punctured their success.

Isaiah Thomas did not run the Knicks efficiently and Omar Minaya did not run the Mets efficiently. You could argue today, the Mets don’t have any of the 3 because the underrated part here is passion. Seattle, San Francisco and Washington D.C, these are some of the smartest cities in the U.S. with tons of money but do D.C. baseball fans really hold the Nat’s GM accountable for every trade? Seattle lost an NBA team to Oklahoma City and barely put up a fight. What’s amazing is how few cities have got it all right! Atlanta has got a lot of money – and I mean a lot of money, but have you ever watch a Braves playoff game? They can’t sell them out! And they just lost their 2nd NHL team.

How about Miami? There is some money there with plenty of smart people, but the Marlin’s attendance has been an embarrassment for 10 years and the Miami Hurricanes – even in their great years, had 1 loss and the fans bolted. Phoenix is a great city, but not a lot of Fortune 500 support and its transient. San Diego is missing parts of all 3; Tampa is missing parts of all 3. Houston has lots of money, but I’m not sure they have enough passion. It’s amazing how few cities have it all. I’d say Boston right now is the only American city that’s got it all. The dough, the intelligence, the people running these franchises are really smart and they’ve got passion. I think Philadelphia and Dallas have some of those, I think Chicago and New York will always be viable because of the passion and money. St. Louis may be an honorable mention.

Money eliminates a lot of the Midwest, passion eliminates beach towns and resort destinations like Miami, Phoenix and Los Angeles. As for intelligence, it is actually really hard for everybody to attain and keep. Right now, Boston has got it all and they’re the 1st city to win all in all four major sports leagues in a 7 year span. The pyramid of success in sports – Money is 50%, intelligent guys running the team 30% and passion is top 20%. I really should copyright this – just like Pat Riley copyrighted “three-peat” then again, the Heat have to win at least one before you can make any money of that copyright.

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Comments
  1. Mike Crack says:

    True, Boston has all four right now. They have legitimate passion for all four sports. I agree that Phlly is a close second. The Eagles are an amazingly well run organization, the Flyers have been good for most years since the mid 90s IIRC, the Phillies are a top franchise in the MLB. Even the Sixers were a playoff team.

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