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Culture makes a difference in winning and losing

Team culture seems to be one factor that makes the difference between winning and losing in sports.  I submit that premise for your discussion. 

Culture is the prevailing, persistent pattern of ideas, beliefs, assumptions, customs, symbols, and traditions that are shared by a group. Different teams, different cities have different cultures. They are ever evolving, but the core pattern of beliefs and assumptions tend to get passed down by various “rituals”, “legends”, “heroes”, and “myths” that express the core beliefs and assumptions and practices of the culture. This is what makes culture persist for a long time, changing much more slowly than particular customs and symbols do.

There is plenty of research evidence that every organization has a culture, and that culture has a significant, pervasive effect on the success of the organization.  (Anyone can google the question and find a number of articles from leading business schools and organizational psychologists.)  Rather than cite the dry academic evidence, I will post the much more colorful and entertaining evidence that can be found in articles by baseball writers and reporters.  I hope those who are interested in the question of culture will enjoy them.

Here is the first reference for your consideration:

How did the Rays do it?
By Gerry Fraley
SPECIAL TO THE POST-DISPATCH
10/21/2008

[Excerpts]

Joe Maddon insists that he is as “old school’’ as Branch Rickey....

(Outfielder Delmon) Young was among several young players whom Maddon felt had a sense of entitlement that turned the club into a splintered group.

“I was more concerned about building relationships and trust within the organization,’’ Maddon said. “The accountability factor had to be nurtured and grown. It was almost at zero.’’

In case anyone did not get the message, Maddon twice pulled talented center fielder B.J. Upton from games this season after he gave half-hearted efforts. Upton has tied a record with seven homers in the playoffs.

“We’ve always had talent over here,’’ Upton said. “In the past, it’s kind of been guys on the individual, trying to do their own thing. Now, we’re thinking like a team and playing like a team.’’

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