Competition Breeds Excellence

These days, whenever you ask an athlete about the great performance of an opponent, you’re usually going to get a stock response of, “They’re doing great, they work hard and I wish them all the best,” or something to that effect.

In other words, today’s athletes make it seem as though they don’t pay very much attention to what their peers are doing. Am I really expected to believe that?

Hank Aaron used to tell me, “I checked the box scores all the time.” He said it, “drove me and motivated me.”  

Rickey Henderson said to me, “I looked around and wanted to see what everyone else was doing.”

Those are two Hall of Famers, some of the greatest baseball players of all time. It’s no coincidence that they had a keen interest in what their opponents were doing. It gives you extra motivation to continually set the bar higher than the next guy.

When I think about epic sports games, the most memorable are the ones between two gladiators; two ultra-competitive, highly skilled teams that each force the other to perform at the highest level.

Michigan vs. Ohio State.Michigan vs. Ohio State

Celtics vs. Lakers

Red Sox vs. Yankees

SYRACUSE vs. Georgetown (maybe Duke these days...Let’s go Orange!)

What about Coke vs. Pepsi? The rivalry of the two behemoths in the beverage industry have produced some of the most innovative marketing promotions as they battle for market share.



Back when I was starting Steiner Sports and the sports marketing industry was really taking shape, I had a big rival. We were trying to sign a lot of the same players, mostly football players that we’d book for appearances at trade shows other corporate events. I saw this guy everywhere.

What did that do to me? It lit a fire under me. I knew that we both had to be at our best. I’m a competitive guy and to me, this was like Ali-Frazier. That’s the way I’ve always been because competition is what keeps me motivated to be on top of my game everyday.

So, who’s that person for you? Who is that one competitor that you stack up against day-in and day-out? What are they doing that you aren’t doing? What do you have to do to be at your best?


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