Instead of looking at the sports implications of Mark Cuban’s proposal for a new professional football league to rival the NFL, I decided to look at the business implications of Cuban’s seemingly blind desire to meddle in sports ownership.
Now, I’m not worth billions of dollars, so who cares if I think Cuban is a good businessman? Nobody, that’s who. But Forbes magazine has written an article detailing Five Marks of a Great Leader, and it is through that prism that I will view the head of the UFL.
From the article:
1. Moral Courage
This matters most. It is the willingness to stick to one’s beliefs, to pursue a course of action in the face of overwhelming criticism, great adversity and, not least, the faintheartedness of friends and allies.
I can give this one to Mark without hesitation. He believed that he could take the Dallas Mavericks from doormat to contender, and he has done so. Along the way, he has made Dallas a destination for free agents by building locker rooms where you can drop the soap without having to check and see if Dirk is about to “post you up” – there are individual shower stalls instead of a group-prison scene. (speaking of which, the blog Steroid Nation has turned up Mark’s blog about his colonoscopy)
President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have demonstrated it in standing by their Iraq policy.
When I need advice, I rarely turn to someone with first-class honors from a top university. I turn to someone who has knocked about the world and cheerfully survived “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”
I think Mark is golden here. His parents were working class, he worked as a bartender, a dance instructor, and a party promoter. Cuban is a hustler, plain and simple, and he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Being able to judge well is often linked to an ability to mix with and learn from other people–not so much from experts but from common people.
Yes, from what I hear, Mark Cuban has quite a touch with the common people.
3. A Sense of Priority
Sorting out the truly big from the small takes an innate horse sense that’s not given to most human beings.
Hmm… I’m struggling with this one. Mark seems to have trouble sticking to one thing. If you have a team that’s on the cusp of the NBA championship, do you really need to go tilting at windmills by trying to compete with Roger “The Punisher” Goodell? Just thinking about starting something this risky has to pull focus away from the things he’s already succeeding at – namely basketball ownership, and self-promotion.
Clever leaders often have a habit of pouncing on minor issues and pushing them at all costs, even to the detriment of their real interests.
Yep, this UFL thing has all the marks of arrogance and dilletante-ism. No soup for you, Cubes.
4. The disposal and concentration of effort
Leaders must allocate their time and energy.
This dude is definitely fidgety. He spends too much time trying to live up to the media-promoted image of Donald Trump, fighting with officials, and pulling publicity stunts. He doesn’t really have a core project that defines him – he’s always trying to find the next music-sharing service or toilet seat that shoots water up your bum. At least the Donald always has “Real Estate Mogul” to fall back on when his hairstyle implodes.
A subordinate always serves more zealously and obeys more faithfully a leader who can joke, and the public–painfully aware of the harshness of life–warms to a potentate who can make them laugh.
Here, at last, is the area in which Mark Cuban stands head and shoulders above all other NBA owners. He is quick with a one-liner and has a sense of humor about his own quirks. Some may deride him as an obnoxious nerd, but he brings life to the proceedings, and for that, we can thank him.
I can give Mark Cuban high marks for Moral Courage and Humor. But his Judgment, Sense of Priority, and Concentration of Effort are called severely into question. If the Dallas Mouth had chosen to compete with the NHL, I would have called him brilliant. But to take on the most powerful sports league in America at the peak of its popularity rates really poorly on the wisdom scale. Probably the best thing we can hope for is that Mark will let this one fizzle out and hope nobody remembers that he ever said anything.
But what the hell. If he goes ahead with it, at least we’ll have plenty to write about. Right?