Coopetition in Business Comes Close but it is Still NOT the Same!
The Internet is full of lies, truth be told! It is almost impossible to sift out falsehood from this Worldwide Web of Worms.
But I do not wish to dispute this heartwarming instance of sportsmanship from the 1936 Olympics where all-time sprint great Jesse Owens was on the verge of elimination in Long Jump after two faulty leaps.
Before Jesse Owens’ third and final attempt, German long jumper Lutz Long, with Adolf Hitler watching, is said to have given the African-American a tactical advice that worked. Jesse went on to win Gold and the German had to settle for Silver.
Here is what Jesse Owens is believed to have said later:
“You can melt down all the medals and cups I have won, and they wouldn’t be worth the plating on the 24-carat friendship I felt for Lutz Long at that moment.”
The experience made the two bond well but Lutz did not live long as he was killed during World War II from the frontline.
What the world saw in Berlin 1936 is one of the most memorable acts of sporting joy ever. There can be nothing like competitors thinking beyond themselves and displaying a rare sense of humanity! Metals pale into insignificance in the face of such strength of character.
We see them all documented on the Net, some have been made into movies – such as Race, a recent biopic on Jesse Owens.
Amity in Sports, Collaboration and Consolidation in Business
Such examples in the corporate world of intense competition are largely non-existent. We do, nonetheless, see what is recognised as coopetition where rivals collaborate to win business.
While it comes close, it is still not the same as coopetition is for commercial, mutual gains! Coopetition, at times, leads to consolidation through mergers and acquisitions.
Sportsmanship, in contrast, represents nothing but amity with no other expectations.
To honour those who embody that true Olympic spirit of sporting camaraderie there is the Pierre de Coubertin medal, though not given at each of the Games. Lutz won the medal posthumously in 1964.
Photo credit: Getty
A few days ago, while the 5000-metre race was under way in Rio, showmanship paved the way for sportsmanship when Abbey D’Agostino of the U.S. and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin were involved in a collision that affected their momentum. What we then saw was a celebration of the Olympic spirit – they helped each other finish the race.
We saw a few other gestures yesterday at the women’s badminton final between India’s PV Sindhu and Spain’s Carolina Marin as well as after Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei defeated his long-time nemesis, Lin Dan of China.
Sindhu Wins Hearts
Sindhu came up with a fine performance, possibly her best yet, though gold eluded her. But she won the hearts of sports lovers when she showed her composure and sportsmanship by lending a helping hand to an emotional Marin who was on the ground, face down, in gold ecstasy!
A warm, congratulatory hug followed, enough to strike a welcome chord in me as I was watching it live on Okto.
Lee Chong Wei also did something similar when he and Lin Dan removed their tops and hugged each other, lifting the spirits of the champion who lost the match.
The Rio Games is set to draw to a close on Sunday, but the Olympic spirit will live on, even if that is demonstrated by only a few.
G Joslin Vethakumar