The Jordan Effect

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The Jordan EffectIn football, there is a common expression designed to keep players focused on what they can control. They are coached to “compete from the snap to the whistle.”

This, of course, means that each player is supposed to give 100% from the time each play starts (when ball is snapped), to the time the whistle blows and the play is over. It’s a concept that can be applied to all sports, and, really, to our lives as well.

But here is something curious I’ve noticed…  While good players truly do give 100% from the snap to the whistle…the verybest players figure out how to play from the whistle to the snap. They are competing at a level where the other guys are unaware there is even a “game” going on!

Have you heard of the Jordan Effect?

When Michael Jordan was in his prime with the Chicago Bulls, opposing coaches gave that name—the Jordan Effect—to what they were certain was an unfair phenomenon taking place night after night. And the media advanced the notion.  Their argument was that the referees were so in awe of Michael that they wouldn’t call fouls on him.

As the opposing coaches, their teams, their team’s fans, and the media became increasingly obsessed with the idea, someone actually monitored Michael’s games for a time and “proved” that the Jordan Effect gave the Bulls at least a five-point advantage in every contest. ESPN announcers often pointed out that the officials were quick to call fouls on opponents who were aggressive with Michael, yet they were hesitant to call fouls on him when he was aggressive with opponents. On SportsCenter, we were shown video evidence of the many, many times that Michael was allowed an extra step or two without dribbling and not “called” for traveling.

The Jordan Effect, everyone agreed, was real.

But how did this happen? Was it truly because the officials were awed by his immense talent?

Ahh…no. The Jordan Effect actually had very little to do with Michael’s prowess on the court. Michael Jordan had figured out how to play from the whistle to the snap. He was competing during the shoot around before the game. He was competing during TV timeouts. Sometimes, he was even competing back at the hotel before the team ever boarded the bus to the arena. And his opponents had no clue.

If you watched other superstars from that time period, you’ll remember how many of them reacted when the refs call them for a foul. Many times—most times—they huffed and puffed and argued with the call. They criticized the officials in the media.

But not Michael Jordan.

Jordan made sure he knew each official by name. So before the game started and the teams were in the arena warming up (or in the lobby of the hotel) he’d talk.

“Hey Steve,” he’d say. “How’s your son doing? Bobby’s in the eighth grade this year, right? I hear he’s doing well on the court. You tell Bobby for me that I got cut from my junior high school team. Heck Steve! Your kid is doing better at this stage of his career than I did. You tell him I said to keep it up.”

Now, that ref gets to go home to his son and say, “Hey, guess what Michael told me to tell you. Oh, you didn’t know? Yes, son…Michael and I are great friends!”

Later, during the game, who do you think gets the benefit of the doubt? Who gets more fouls called…the player griping, complaining, and cussing the official, or the official’s buddy—the guy who cares about his son?

The Jordan Effect doesn’t only apply to sports. It equally applies to your daily life. That’s why a teenager who doesn’t make the best grades but knows how to act with respect and good manners will be offered 10 times more opportunities than a kid who makes good grades but doesn’t act respectfully and has bad or nonexistent manners.

It is important that we remember to teach our children—and ourselves—that the play is not over when the whistle sounds. Our daily lives don’t start at 9 AM and end at 5. In order to achieve results beyond the ordinary in every aspect of your life, it’s time to figure out how YOU can play from the whistle to the snap.

How do you intend to play from “the whistle to the snap”? I can’t wait to read your comments!


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