Throwing the Red Flag: Challenging the NFL's Lessons for American Business

38 Journal of Corporation Law, 2013 Forthcoming

17 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2012 Last revised: 15 Nov 2012

Date Written: September 20, 2012


In the wake of the financial crisis, policymakers, academics, and many others are trying to figure out how to reform business practices and grow the economy. In the book entitled, Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL (Harvard Business Review Press 2011), Dean Roger L. Martin provides a creative answer. He draws on an unlikely source — an analogy to the NFL — to advocate for changes that would shift the focus of American business away from the “expectations market” (i.e., in football, the betting world, and in business, the stock market where stock prices reflect investor expectations of future performance) and back to the “real market” (i.e., in football, the game on the field, and in business, the creation of products and services). Martin makes powerful arguments, but as with many analogies, the fit between the source (the NFL) and the target (American business) of the analogy is imperfect. And when deriving lessons through analogy, it is critical to appreciate the ways in which the analogy fails to work. Thus, this Article challenges three aspects of Martin’s analogy and explains how these challenges ought to alter Martin’s recommendations. Ultimately, by analyzing the limitations of the analogy between the NFL and American business, this Article seeks to further our ability to learn from the former to reform the latter.

Keywords: corporate governance, business, stock compensation, sports betting, gambling, NFL, football

JEL Classification: C70, G18, G30, G38, H32, K22, L20, L83, M10, M52

Suggested Citation

Field, Heather M., Throwing the Red Flag: Challenging the NFL's Lessons for American Business (September 20, 2012). 38 Journal of Corporation Law, 2013 Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Heather M. Field (Contact Author)

UC Law, San Francisco ( email )

200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States

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