The Inevitable Decline

Lessons from the National Championship Game

Monday night I attended the College Football Championship in Atlanta.

Image from Section 313, Mercedes Benz Stadium — Photo by Andrew Marti

It was a big, noisy spectacle, with presidents, Big Flags, marching bands and Kendrick Lamar.

But most importantly, it was an awesome game.

And within this game a was classic narrative flow:

  • One team starts strong.
  • That team can see victory.
  • That team then struggles.

Does that team adjust or do they not?

This is the central question within every game.

Here’s what happened Monday night:

  • A team starts strong. In this case it was my team — University of Georgia (UGA) against the University of Alabama. The UGA defense was impressive. They held strong in the first quarter. Alabama missed a field goal.
  • The UGA offense gained confidence, They got stronger in the second quarter. They ended the first half with a beautiful scoring drive, diving into the end-zone in the final seconds. The game was in their grasp.
  • Then they struggled in the 2nd half. Alabama adjusted. Their offense gained confidence. While ours seemed to lose confidence, and yards.

You could chart it like this:

It’s a decline in confidence. And a decline in execution.

You can feel it. We felt it in the stadium. You could grasp it.

But it’s not just psychological. The team’s performance was measurably worse than it was in the second half. Their defense was giving away yards. The offense struggled geting a first down.

One factor in UGA’s decline came as the result of an adjusted game plan from the competitor. Alabama brought in a freshman quarterback in the 2nd half.

That move injected new energy into the team. It changed the game for them.

The other team scored, and scored again, and again.

And what had been a comfortable lead, became an uncomfortable lead.

Then a tie.

The Inevitable Decline. It’s in every good game. The Inevitable Decline for UGA was matched by an equal and balanced Incline in performance and outlook for Alabama.

The Inevitable Decline is known by other terms:

  • Momentum Shift
  • Transition Curve (I wrote about something similar here.)
  • The Cold Hand

So..The Inevitable Decline is an essential part of every good story.

It’s the ebb and flow of life.

It’s what makes sports thrilling.

It’s what makes businesses thrive or die.

It’s what makes life challenging.

And, when you emerge from that Decline, like Alabama did in the second half, it’s thrilling and rewarding rewarding (for them).

UGA didn’t quite pull up from their Decline in last night’s game.

They lost on a thrilling 41 yard pass in overtime.

The final play of the game

So The Decline is deep this for us UGA fans.

But we will be fine.

From here the UGA football team will work even harder.

They’ll learn from their mistakes.

They’ll find ways to be stronger.

They will look for opportunities to be more creative next time.

It’s important to note you can’t eliminate the Inevitable Decline.

It’s always there.

Your best bet is to recognize that it will come: In every game, in every season.

So you need to be ready for it.

You need to know it’s coming.

UGA will have to adjust their defense next year. They need more depth. Maybe they need to be intentional about finding opportunities to insert gutsy, creative calls, like Alabama did with their quarterback shift.

Remember: The decline is inevitable. It will happen. Therefore, you can manage around it.

And prepare for it.

And make it less deep.

And less painful the next time you face it.

So how can you really address the Inevitable Decline to reach your goals? I’ll talk about that in another blog.

January 8, 2018 — After Alabama won the College Football National Championship Game, Mercedes Benz Stadium

technologist, cultural omnivore, book nut, father

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