The Relation between Sports and Teambuilding

30 May

Since I have read the case study on “The discipline of teams” by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, I know that there is a big difference between working groups and teams. What working groups do is a function of what its members do as individuals but team performance includes both individual results and collective group work products which includes mutual accountability. The most important for a team is a common commitment and a meaningful purpose for all team members to reach specific performance goals.

In the case study a team is defined as “a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable”.

When I thought about that definition I realized that this definition is not only true in business but also in sports. Since I’m an athlete myself, sport plays a very important role in my life probably the most important I would say.

Here I remembered that Korinna from the group “Blog or die tryin’ ” had already written a post on how sport is related to business in “Job+ Sport=Success”

which inspired me to write this post because I was really impressed by her findings.

I started looking for other definitions for teams and team sport and I found that

“A team sport includes any sport which involves players working together towards a shared objective.

A team sport is an activity in which a group of individuals, on the same team, work together to accomplish an ultimate goal which is usually to win. This can be done in a number of ways such as outscoring the opposing team. Team members set goals, make decisions, communicate, manage conflict, and solve problems in a supportive, trusting atmosphere in order to accomplish their objectives.”

I like this definition because it very much says the same like in the case study by Katzenbach just in different words and that showed that there is not a big difference or even no difference between teams in business and teams in sports. What I think is the only difference is that people do different kinds of work. In business it’s more brain work and in sports it’s more physical. But also in sport, teams have to develop a certain strategy in advance and during the game the players have to think carefully about the next steps and what consequences this could have so there we can find some kind of brain work as well.

Examples of team sports:

When I started talking to different people about what they think is great team sport, most of them mentioned soccer as the best team sport ever and were very excited about the upcoming European Championship which will start on the 8th of June in Poland and the Ukraine. They also told me that this is team spirit during such an event will also bring the Germans closer together again like during the World Championship where all fans can be seen as a big team because they all want the German team to win.

And soccer is also a great example where the team has to combine their strategic power and their physical power to achieve good results.

Soccer is for sure the most famous sport in Germany but I think it’s sad that especially during such an Event like the European or World Championship, most people forget that there are also so many other kinds of sport where German Athletes are very successful and just because they might be less important as soccer nobody or only a few people are talking about it.

For Example, last week there were the European Championships in swimming and none of the people I talked to knew it. Of course, swimming is not the classical team sport but in the relays also swimmers fight together as a team and the German women’s 4x100m freestyle relay won the gold medal on the first day of the games in Debrecen, Hungary.

As we can see here, there is a huge connection between teams in business and teams in sports which doesn’t mean that people who are great time players in sports are also great team players in business or vice versa because the skills of each individual of a team matter to reach good results for the whole team and these skills and competences have to agree to the teams purpose in sports as well as in business.


4 Responses to “The Relation between Sports and Teambuilding”

  1. sabrinacz June 3, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Hey Julia,
    you describe the connection between sports and team work very well.
    I also liked that you included current events like the football EM or the swimming championship. It was also interesting, that you defined the German fans as one big team.
    However, it would have been great, if you had compared sport teams and business teams in more aspects and had emphasized their characteristics more explicitly.
    Nevertheless, it was a great post, not only because of the topic, but also because of the quotes that you used and the connections that you made to the case study! 🙂

  2. rosepanama June 11, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

    Hi Julia,

    From all of your posts, I like this one the most ! It’s great how you draw the connection from teamwork in business environments to sports teams. Also, I appreciate that you mention the upcoming European Championship which contributes to a great actuality.
    Since I read the text of Katzenbach too, I find that you outlined the most important aspects. Again, I have to underline how great it is that you connect it to sports teams. This shows the alleged “simplicity” of good team work. To put in other words, it is interesting that teamwork does not depend on the work field.
    Since we are studying International Business Management it would have been interesting to hear about a firm’s example of teamwork. Maybe you could compare different problematics that firm’s had been confronted with in your next post!

    Can’t wait to read the next post!
    Cheers, Rose

  3. melissano18 June 26, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    Hey Julia!

    As always, you focused on a very interesting topic! A topic that affects all of us, whether in sports, business or even in school and college! Working in teams is one of the most crucial topics that confront us probably the whole life.
    I really liked that you referred to the European championship in soccer and to the European championship in swimming. I have to admit that I have not have heard about the last one either. So it was very good that you introduced this to us.
    However, I would have liked more if you would have referred also to teams in businesses to connect the similarity between sport teams and business teams even more. Maybe you also could have put in some quotes or write the definitions as blog quotes, which makes it more interesting and more readable for the reader.
    Still, I thought it was a good choice to mention the case study we read in class, which fit perfectly to this topic.
    Your pictures are chosen very carefully and underline and support your topic!

    Great blog post, Julia!


  1. “The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife!” « hit the nail on the top - June 14, 2012

    […] satisfying your customers but also ensuring good teamwork. My fellow student Julia argues in her blog post: “The most important for a team is a common commitment and a meaningful purpose for all team […]

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