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Athletes carry our dreams as no chief executive ever will

http://finance.sina.com.cn 2003年11月21日 09:34 新浪财经


    启程前往澳洲参加橄榄球世界杯赛之前,南非队队员都必须参加一个为时三天的训练营。在那里,训练者要求队员脱得一丝不挂,跳进冰冷的湖中,在水下给橄榄球打气。有些运动员熬不住想出来,其中包括队长考恩•克瑞奇(Corne Krige),但训练者用枪逼着他们下水。

Before leaving for the Rugby World Cup in Australia, the South African team were ordered to attend a three-day training camp. There they were told to strip naked, jumpsintosa freezing lake and pump up rugby balls underwater. Players who tried to climb out, including Corne Krige, the captain, were forced back at gunpoint.

    根据《约翰内斯堡星期日时报》(Johannesburg Sunday Times)的报道,训练者还让队员裸体挤进一个洞里,用“天佑吾皇”的歌声,用新西兰赛前的战斗口号“哈卡”来捉弄他们。最后,他们总算获准去睡觉了。但每隔15分钟,就有枪声把他们惊醒。

The players, the Johannesburg Sunday Times reported, were also crammed naked sintosa hole,swheresthey were taunted with renditions of "God Save the Queen" and the Haka, the New Zealand pre-match war cry. When they were finally permitted to sleep, they were woken every 15 minutes by gunfire.


Business leaders who ask why no one objects to how much top athletes earn should remember that few company Outward Bound courses require participants to strip, and that the headline "Chief executive under fire" is usually metaphorical.


Moaning about sports stars' earnings, as well as those of pop singers and television celebrities, was once the preserve of British chief executives. When, about 15 years ago, top UK executives starting earning more than £1m a year, many of them ascribed the resulting outcry to Britain's anti-business bias and its culture of envy. Why shouldn't business people, responsible for tens of thousands of jobs, earn as much as someone who kicked a ball or pranced around a stage for a living? Americans, they pointed out, did not whine about their chief executives' pay.

    但美国人现在也开始说三道四了。最近沃顿商学院的一篇评论中写道:“奥普拉•温弗莉(Oprah Winfrey), 迈克尔•乔丹,理查德•格拉索(Richard Grasso):三人有何共同点?他们的收入都是天价,但是只有其中一人为此遭到公开的批评和挖苦。”

They do now, as a recent commentary from Wharton business school noted. "Oprah Winfrey. Michael Jordan. Richard Grasso. What do these three have in common? All have been paid astounding amounts of money, yet only one has been openly criticised and ridiculed because of it," the commentary said.


Mr Grasso was forced out of office for accepting a pay package worth .5m as head of the New York Stock Exchange. Jack Welch, much admired for his achievements as chairman of General Electric, was later derided for his retirement perks.


"Why is it, then, that corporate executives are coming under fire for excessive pay when athletes like Michael Jordan and entertainers like Oprah Winfrey seem to stir no such feelings of resentment?" the Wharton school asked.

    沃顿表示,其中一个原因就是运动员和娱乐人士谋生之术在“崇拜者的眼中一揽无余。”首席执行官却常常不见首尾,他们不是在自己的办公室,就是在会议室或者飞机上。即使人们能亲眼看到他们,也弄不明白他们究竟在做什么。30多年前,加拿大管理学教授亨利•明兹伯格(Henry Mintzberg)就对首席执行官所做的事进行过研究,结论是首席执行官们什么事都干不长,总是隔几分钟就从一件事跳到另一件事上。

One reason, Wharton said, was that what athletes and entertainers did for a living was "clearly evident to their fans". Chief executives are mostly out of sight, in their offices, in meetings, or on aircraft. Even those who see them up close struggle to work out what they do. More than 30 years ago, Henry Mintzberg, the Canadian management professor, studied what chief executives did and concluded that they did not do anything for very long, hopping from one task to another every few minutes.


A second reason people find it easier to accept athletes' and entertainers' financial rewards is that their success or failure is so clear-cut. Skinny-dipping at gunpoint did not do the South Africans much good. They lost to England in the preliminary rounds and were knocked out by New Zealand in the quarter-finals. The New Zealanders were, in turn, beaten by Australia in the semi-finals.

    运动员一旦失败,是没有什么借口可讲的。他们不同于首席执行官们,不能去归咎于不利的市场形势、货币走向、非典、伊战、夏季多雨,或是冬季暖冬。在另一场半决赛中,英国队打败了法国队,法国队并未怪罪倾盆大雨。法国教练伯纳德•拉波特(Bernard Laporte)说:“不错,下雨对比赛有非常大影响,但是我们毕竟是一流球队。”英国队适应了当时的环境,而法国却没有。

For losing athletes, there are no excuses. Unlike chief executives, they cannot blame adverse market conditions, currency movements, Sars, the Iraq war, the wet summer or the mild winter. When England defeated France in the other semi-final, the French did not complain about the swirling rain. Bernard Laporte, the French coach, said: "It is true the rain had a massive impact on the game, but we are a top team." England adapted to the conditions; France did not.


Sports fans know their heroes' careers can be brutally short. Defeat can spell the end; so can a catastrophic injury. The more literate may find careers in sports journalism or broadcasting. Others may opt for the equally unforgiving world of team management. The rest have to be content with their medals and memories. Chief executives do not last long either, but they earn plenty before they achieve high office, and even more when they are sacked. In sport, there are no rewards for failure.


Another difference is that, unlike those of chief executives, athletes and entertainers' salaries are not decided by their peers. Corporate compensation committees might be staffed by independent directors. To the outside world, they still look like the chief executives' friends.


The market for athletes' pay does not work perfectly. Not all US sports teams are run on a commercial basis. Their owners accept losses that no company could tolerate. While European sports teams are more business-like, football players' pay demands have forced many clubs to the point of ruin.


The entertainment market is straightforward. Make recordings that sell, fill stadiums for your concerts, and you earn millions. Fail to make an impact and you earn nothing.

    我们能认同体育娱乐人士的财富,最重要的原因是我们观看他们的表演,而且边看边思考,自己身临其境。对大多数人来说,这只是幻觉。但是“流行偶像”(Pop Idol)之类节目正是靠这种幻觉发达的。无数儿童幻想自己有朝一日能出一张高踞排行榜榜首的唱片。不能否认,也有儿童幻想自己成为通用电器、联合利华之类企业的首席执行官,但是对这些儿童,同学们总是侧目而视。(想当比尔•盖茨是另外一回事,这样的话,就去自己当老板吧,想挣多少挣多少,没人来烦你。)

But the biggest reason we accept athletes and entertainers' riches is that we watch them and think: that could be me. For most, it is an illusion, but television programmes such as Pop Idol thrive on it. Millions of children dream of recording a No 1 hit, scoring a last-minute goal or hitting a winning home run. There are, no doubt, kids who dream of becoming chief executive of GE or of Unilever, but their schoolmates regard them as deeply peculiar. (Wanting to be the next Bill Gates is another matter, but then those who build their own businesses can earn as much as they want without anyone bothering them.)

    运动员和娱乐明星载着我们的梦想,而没有哪个首席执行官能同样地载这些梦想。在与法国队交锋之前,英国队的外侧前卫明星强尼•威尔金森(Jonny Wilkinson)似乎失去了往日风采。而到了星期天,他的风采又重现了,在英国队24:7的大比分胜利的比赛中,每一分都有他的份。为什么能这样?因为几百万的人在鼓励着他,这些人都真心支持《伦敦标准晚报》(London Evening Standard)的一则赛前报道标题:“强尼, 这不是橄榄球,而是生活本身。”没有人会对英国石油公司第三季度的业绩说同样的话。

Athletes and pop stars carry our dreams in a way that no chief executive ever could. Before the game against France, Jonny Wilkinson, England's star fly-half, appeared to have lost his touch. He found it on Sunday, kicking every point in England's 24-7 victory. He did so with the urging of millions who heartily endorsed the headline in a pre-match report in the London Evening Standard that said: "This is not just rugby, Jonny - this is life itself." They never say that about BP's third-quarter results. xref michael.skapinker@ft.com






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