Details can make a difference

Do organizational culture and routine matter when it comes to sports?

Does the little stuff matter? Making our beds in the morning, settling into a routine, abiding by ALL your company's rules; at the end of the day does it really make a difference?

For me the answer has always been… no. I was the kid who always refused to do things which I considered "unnecessary". I remember arguing with my parents about making my bed each day. "Why bother, I'm just gonna unmake it later." I was also the kid who was told to take out the trash at a certain time, to which my response was "gimme 10 minutes". I could go on, but I think you get the point. I wasn't a rebellious kid by any means but I was the one who questioned things, who fought against the routine, who believed I knew better. I think a lot of you who read this article will feel the same way.

Last year my company, which works in the Nuclear field and focuses on safety, decided to add in some safety measures across the organization. And by that I mean the unnecessary stuff. We were told to start our conference calls with a safety message. For example "make sure you don't text and drive" and give stats about why it's bad. In the parking lot we were told to reverse into all our parking spots because accidents are less likely to occur this way. Walking down the hallway we were told to not text and walk, to hold onto the handrail on stairs, and to always carry our coffee in sealed mugs. The worst part of it all, we were told to remind each other of the rules and enforce them. If you're like me when you hear that stuff, you roll your eyes. How stupid right?

When looking at sports today, it's funny how much of that same attitude is clearly on display. Sports are something most of us play when we are kids but for those select few who are able to be professional athletes, it is a job. There is a routine to follow where showing up at the gym, in the film room, and at the meetings is a requirement. In 2019 there are already a few stories in the NFL that come to mind; from former Dallas Cowboys player David Irving quitting football and bashing his coaches to newly acquired Jets RB Le'veon Bell skipping mini-camp. The rumors coming out of New York following Odell Beckham's trade have also been a headline; criticism from his former organization and reports of how he was a bad teammate. Now are all of these stories equal? Of course not. But when I hear them I can't help but think of myself fighting against the routine, believing that I know better. If I was a professional athlete would I fall into this category?

As much as I hate the Patriots and the "Patriot way", it's pretty much a given that players will act a certain way and not miss events if they are on the team. Throughout the years we have seen some pretty aggressive moves by the Patriots organization to enforce that, including benching star CB Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. But the question becomes, does it work? Does this type of organizational culture and routine matter? Or do they keep winning simply because Brady and Belichick are just that good?

While the answer for me has always been no, the recent change in my company has forced me to face the hard truth… that this stuff might matter. Though I begrudgingly complied with my tasks, I was certain the safety rule changes would be laughed at and ignored by most. If anything it would create an office where people hated those who ratted them out, right? It had to… and yet it didn't. One year following the implementation of the program our safety record is better than it's ever been. Office accidents dropped to basically 0% and our work with clients has improved across the board. In response, our management gave each of our employees a bonus with the money we saved.

And just like that I was forced to think back. Not making my bed and waiting to take out the trash never stopped me from getting a degree in Nuclear Engineering and Physics or an MBA from Rice. But at the same time I also have memories of having guests visit the house and my bed looking terrible, and of saying I'll take the trash out in 10 minutes and then just simply forgetting. Events that my wife is now forced to witness on a regular basis.

Will Le'veon Bell's decision to skip minicamp destroy his chances of winning a super bowl or affect his relationship with his team? Probably not… but at the same time, maybe? Maybe it's not a coincidence the players who have a history of skipping the small stuff tend to not win, and maybe it is. I think I'm a smart guy and when the rule changes were implemented for my company I honestly thought about Allen Iverson and his famous practice rant. We provide safety to Nuclear Power plants and we really talking about holding a handrail in the office? "We talking about Practice?" But now that it's all said and done I gotta ask myself should I be the one changing my mindset? After all, how many rings does Iverson have again?

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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