Lessons from sports for adult life

Back in middle school, I played basketball.  At one summer basketball camp, I was in the one-on-one competition against one of the best girls in the camp.  I played hard, took outside shots, and really did not give her the easy win that she wanted.  She learned pretty quickly that it was going to be a tougher battle than anticipated, so she started doing things like slapping my arms every time I took a shot. It was absurd; I went to the foul line a few times, the ref stopped calling her on it when she did it, and at the end of the game (she won), my arms were red from the top of my bicep to the middle of my forearm.

It is an excellent analogy for how dirty the Market Basket Board of Directors is fighting.  A month ago, they thought they had this easy win: old CEO ousted, new co-CEOs in place, get the chain ready for sale and a huge payout.  Then about 160 of the employees in the warehouse and trucking went on strike.  The management responded by doing what you do with non-unionised workers who strike: fire the managers who organised it.  That didn’t quell the rebellion; it threw gasoline onto the fire.  The strike turned to a chain-wide protest and a two million customer boycott. Ousted CEO Arthur T. Demoulas offered to buy the part of the chain that his rivals own; the Board has sat on the offer for three weeks. Meanwhile, their “win” is ever more elusive: the chain is losing ten million dollars a day, no one really wants to buy the chain except for the ousted CEO, and the customer protests are only getting stronger.

The newest tactic by the desperate Board, seeing “their” victory pulled away from them, is to offer “Artie T” a non-CEO management spot (thereby rejecting his offer to return as CEO pending the sale to him) with no guarantee that the chain would be sold to him if he stabilises the company.  His spokesman rightly called the Board out on how ridiculous that is.  New England collectively cracked up and asked why Artie T. would do their own work for them.

So they have now come out with a petulant, petty statement deriding him, a non-voting shareholder with no control over the company an an offer to buy it for more than it is worth, for “holding employees and customers hostage.” When losing games that they expect to win, some people get very petty and nasty.


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