Most 1970's and 1980's sitcoms were not
only poorly written, they gave us Generation X kids such a
skewed view of reality with their hackneyed mandatory life
lessons that, as adults, we have to unlearn while we
endeavor to instill our Generation Z children with solid
values that actually work in today's world.
The cliché that "it's not whether you
win or lose, but how you play the game" has been spouted
more times than some of the planet's corniest pickup lines
like "How was heaven when you left it?"
Of the two, the pickup line has more value.
Teach your son that
pickup line and he'll have (marginally) more success than
teaching him that winning isn't important if you play the
The how-you-play-the-game line has very
limited shelf life.
Up until a child is 6, 7, or 8, you can probably
shovel that manure down his throat, as you attempt to teach
him the basics of teamwork.
At those early ages, as the kid joins little league,
every child gets a chance at bat, and everyone gets to play
the game. After
age 8 or so, reality slowly sinks in.
In physical education classes back in my day, the gym
teacher, always a male, selected two star jocks to be team
captains, and these team captains got to alternate picking
their draft choices from the rest of the class to fill out
their teams. The
best athletes got picked at the beginning; the dorks,
doofuses, and uncoordinated at the end.
It was humiliating to be the poor sod picked last.
I should think in today's more
politically correct climate that children are no longer the
wielders of the humiliation.
The phys-ed teacher divides up the teams in advance,
apportioning an even number of jock types and 'losers' to
Still, when one side loses against the other because the
worst kid on the team fumbled the ball, the
rest of his team isn't going to rally to his side and
console him with, "Hey, dimwit.
It doesn't matter that we lost.
It's how we played the game."
It's one of the most useless clichés
The real adage should be "It doesn't matter how you
play the game; it just matters whether you win or lose."
I can illustrate with multiple real life examples.
Let's take actors.
How many doe-eyed tykes land in Hollywoodville every
day to take their stab at the limelight?
Some of these aspirants are very talented.
They've taken voice, speech, dance, and movement
been acting in summer stock, repertory, and regional
No one guiding youngsters on the perils of Hollywood could
say that this preparation is playing the game incorrectly.
Yet most of these people will spend their entire
careers , if they have a career, jumping from guest spot
role in one TV show to a guest spot role in another.
In other cases, you have people who were spotted in
a bar or noticed from a modeling shoot and got cast in a
high profile film immediately, a different game-playing
At the end of the day, all that matters is who won –
that is, who gets the more illustrious career.
Not how they got it.
I can fill in real names if you like.
In the left corner, we have British comedian Simon
heard of him?
Plenty of non-Brits haven't.
He started his career in the mid 1990's on several
series. He only
really became known in his native Britain with the show
Spaced, a production he also co-wrote.
He earned some international acclaim after he
co-wrote and starred in the 2004 movie Shaun Of The Dead,
a spoof on zombie films.
He's had a nice run since, appearing in small roles
in mainstream fare like Mission Impossible and
Star Trek and as the star in two more productions he
co-wrote, the latest, Paul,
a sci-fi comedy about
an alien trying to return home.
The only info I've been able to gather puts his net
worth at about US$10 million, nothing to complain about.
In the right corner, we have Kim
She's 10 years younger and was a complete unknown before
2007. Her claim
to fame is being a socialite, much like Paris Hilton, and
milking a mint from it.
She currently has a reality show on cable television
with her family, netting her millions.
She gets paid up to $10,000 from sponsors for each
Twitter tweet she broadcasts.
Her current net worth is almost four times Pegg's.
I know money isn't everything, and I'm
sure Pegg wouldn't want Kardashian's type of career nor
would she want or be talented enough to sustain his.
I refer to money in this context only because that
seems to be the scorecard most of us resort to when deciding
if someone has 'made it' or has won the game, as it were.
Daniel Day Lewis is a much, much better actor than
Tom Cruise, a fact no one would deny.
Cruise though, as the bigger star, with more money,
has more power and, as a result, has more options in the
Look at the economic fiasco of 2008
caused by the subprime mortgage collapse.
On the left side of the ring, you have the financial
"wizards" who invented financial instruments like
mortgaged-backed securities and collateralized debt
obligations to bet on mortgage debt for higher returns.
In bygone eras, some of this financial wrangling
would be construed as illegal.
When the housing bubble collapsed, Wall Street got
hosed . . . temporarily.
The U.S. government via the U.S. taxpayer bailed out
most of the financial institutions that should've gotten a
Lehmann Brothers was one of the notable exceptions left
outside to get flayed, along with those in the right side,
the homeowners and the U.S. taxpayer, who thought they were
playing the game fairly.
Wall Street execs got bonuses that year.
Mr. Everyman lost his home and value in his pension.
Who won here?
Playing the game fairly and honestly
and to the best of your ability doesn't matter in the real
world if you don't win.
No one pats you on the back and says you did a good
winners take all.
If you lose a war, you're a loser.
It's immaterial if
you fought that war "ethically" while the winning side used
biological weapons and torture to score the victory.
Sir James Dyson is the inventor of the
dual cyclone bagless vacuum cleaner.
He came up with the first one in 1983.
Electrolux, Philips, and Black & Decker all refused
to partner up to manufacture or distribute it.
Major multinational producer Hoover rubbished the
idea. A bagless
vacuum cleaner would destroy the market for replacement dust
bags, the wisdom went.
Dyson went into debt to design 5,127 prototypes and
finally launched his own company in 1993 to manufacture the
flew off the shelves, dominated the market in Britain, and
turned Dyson into a pound sterling billionaire.
Hoover and Samsung later tried to infringe on his
patents and Dyson successfully sued them.
He was lucky.
Hoover and Samsung only copied him after his product
was a smash success and Dyson's finances were secure.
Had either of the giants pulled their copycat routine
much earlier in the game, they probably would have gotten
away with it.
The cases could have been dragged along in the courts,
mounting up legal costs for Dyson he wouldn't be able to
inventor of interval windshield wipers, Robert Kearns, got a
taste of that treatment.
He received numerous patents for his invention in
1967, then tried to interest the key automakers in a
None were keen, yet began to offer intermittent
Kearns sued Ford in 1978 and Chrysler in 1982.
It took him more than 12 years to win a final
judgment of close to $30m.
He was initially granted only $5.1m, when he'd
already spent $650,000 and had another $3m in outstanding
legal debts. To
appeal that judgment cost him an additional $1m plus.
How many inventors would have the tenacity to exert
that kind of energy, losing one's wife and undergoing a
nervous breakdown in the process?
How Dyson and Kearns played the game
mattered not an iota.
Both were innovators and deserved to make money off
This is Business School 101.
Invent a new product or service, bring it to market,
and reap the rewards of the innovation.
Rather than try to develop a distribution network
from scratch, each inventor tried to work within the system,
using existent manufacturers to incorporate the idea for a
license fee, the least risky business strategy (you'd think)
for an upstart entrepreneur.
But greedy multinationals with financial muscle, able
to play the game any way they pleased, attempted to steal
something they didn't create and, in most similar
situations, would've gotten away with it.
Want to enjoy a near monopolistic
position in the marketplace?
Won the game by:
bundling basic versions of the Office Suite on all
Lotus' spreadsheets and Corel's word processors were
left in the dust.
No one cared that the losers couldn't fairly compete
in the game.
Have a product that normally doesn't
sell well and want to spark quick sales that leave the
competition in the flames while financially enriching your
Won the game by:
using high level connections at the World Health
Organization and the Center for Disease Control to overhype
a Level 6 Pandemic Alert concerning the H1N1 swine flu
Tamiflu sales skyrocketed, and Donald Rumsfeld, then U.S.
Secretary of Defense and certified legal crook, watched his
net worth rise yet again.
Rumsfeld owned shares in the company holding the
Tamiflu patent. The
losers – that is, Joe Blow and the U.S. taxpayer – were
manipulated to think they needed tamiflu to keep their
precious children safe.
As of September 2009, only 40 children had died of
on Junior's seatbelt is cheaper.
Selling a useless and overpriced
product that the public should have no reason to buy?
Example: Tamiflu once again.
Won the game by:
Its manufacturer, Roche, fabricating evidence
that the drug really works, using this bogus evidence to get
the drug approved by various food & drug administrations,
generating fear to get consumers to demand it and
governments in Roche's back pocket to stockpile it, and
shying away from any scientific testing by claiming the drug
is already proven to work by referring back to their own
Roche is forced to display a disclaimer that "tamiflu
has not been proven to have a positive impact on the
potential consequences of . . . avian or pandemic
the people who actually bought the baseless product to
protect themselves from a threat that didn't really exist
and the taxpayers funding the nonessential stockpile are the
It's as if society has two standards.
We're taught, on the one hand, to respect the laws of
When two soccer teams show up on the field to compete in the
World Cup, it's understood that each will agree to
international rules and guidelines and honor the judgments
of the referees.
The team with the most points at the end of it all will be
pronounced the winner.
But elsewhere, on the playing field of life, it's as
if cheating to win is condoned. The spectators can find out
you cheated, that you bought off the referees and the sports
commentators, but that won't change anything.
You remain the crowned champion and get to enjoy the
prize as if you won 'fairly.'
I don't know what fair means anymore.
Those in a position to change the rules to guarantee
the victor can also change the definitions of words to suit
any particular situation.
Check out a courthouse and/or visit a lawyer for more
detailed (but ambiguous) information.
All that matters when the final score
is tallied is if you win, however you get there.
Winners get to rewrite history with their own
perspective to say, after the fact, that they played the
game fairly anyway.