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    Entries in Sports (148)

    Thursday
    Dec312015

    Best of 2015: Wearable tech at work: Three lessons from the NBA

    NOTE: As 2015 winds down, so will 'regular' posts on the blog. For the next two weeks, I will be posting what I thought were the most interesting pieces I published in 2015. These were not necessarily the most popular or most shared, just the ones I think were most representative of the year in HR, HR Tech, workplaces, and basketball. Hope you enjoy looking back on the year and as always, thanks for reading in 2015.

    Next up a piece from October titled Wearable tech at work: Three lessons from the NBA, that was my favorite kind of post to write - taking an example from the sports world and thinking about what it means for the mainstream kinds of workplaces most of us inhabit.

    Wearable tech at work: Three lessons from the NBA

    The NBA season starts tomorrow!  

    It could not have come soon enough for this NBA junkie. While my beloved Mets have made things interesting with a surprising run to baseball's World Series, I live and breathe for NBA basketball. This is for two reasons primarily. One, the NBA is simply the best, most exciting, most watchable sport there is. And two, basketball provides a tremendous source of insights for all things HR and the workplace - leadership, recruiting, talent management, assessment, compensation, and increasingly - the use of advanced performance analytics for evaluation, talent management, and strategy development.

    Case in point, the increased use of player movement and performance tracking technology to better understand patterns, tendencies, and importantly, fatigue and diminished output/effort in a player. Check this excerpt from a recent piece on the topic from Grantland, From BMI to TMI: The NBA Is Leaning Toward Wearable Tech, then some comments from me after the quote:

    The NBA is putting its own money into the study of wearable GPS devices, with the likely end goal of outfitting players during games, according to several league sources. The league is funding a study, at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, of products from two leading device-makers: Catapult and STATSports.

    The league declined comment on the study. Most teams already use the gadgets during practices, and Catapult alone expects to have about 20 NBA team clients by the start of the 2015-16 season. The Fort Wayne Mad Ants wore Catapult monitors during D-League games last season in an obvious trial run for potential use at the parent league.

    Weighing less than an ounce, these devices are worn underneath a player’s jersey. They track basic movement data, including distance traveled and running speed, but the real value comes from the health- and fatigue-related information they spit out. The monitors track the power behind a player’s accelerations and decelerations (i.e., cuts), the force-based impact of jumping and landing, and other data points. Team sports science experts scour the data for any indication a player might be on the verge of injury — or already suffering from one that hasn’t manifested itself in any obvious way.

    The piece goes on to make some interesting points about how teams can use the devices in a practice setting in order to make decisions about player rest and practice strategy. But since the NBA player's are represented by a union, in-game use of these devices will have to be collectively bargained according to the piece. What can we extrapolate to 'normal' workplaces from the NBA's experiments and experiences with these kinds of wearables?

    I can think of three main things:

    1. Union shop or not, organizations are going to have to take data privacy, usage, and access issues very seriously and head-on. Players that are angling to secure their next contract might not want widespread access to their performance data if it begins to show some performance degradation that might not be apparent to the naked eye. If you want any employee to wear a tracking tool like this, you have got to ensure the 'right' level of privacy and control for your situation.

    2. Your primary use case for wearable tech should be a positive one. And probably your secondary use case as well. If wearables are going to be used to prevent injuries, help workers find efficiencies, or better align tasks to workers, (and even to a specific day or time), then it is likely you will have a better chance at employee adoption of this kind of tech. If employees think your primary goal of these devices is to identify the 'weak links' in the organization in order to apply discipline, (or to weed them out), then the reaction is going to be less-than-enthusiastic. There is already a pretty large 'Big Brother is watching' inherent bias you need to overcome, don't make it worse by treating wearable tech at work like some kind of house arrest ankle bracelet.

    3. Wearable data has to be interpreted in context. Every basketball game is unique. The opponent, the combinations of players on the court, the external conditions, (travel, amount of sleep, diet, etc,), all vary from day-to-day and game-to-game no matter how hard coaches try to have things consistent. Careful analysis of player tracking data and performance has to include and attempt to understand how external factors impact performance. Player tracking data is going to create tremendous amounts of data for team management to analyze - on top of the pretty large data sets they already have been crunching. And when this kind of data is available to every team, the competitive advantage ceases to be simply having the data - the advantage shifts to the organization that is the best and extracting insight from the data.

    I am sure there will be more to unpack as player movement and tracking data becomes more of a mainstream form of analysis, but for now, these are the big takeaways for me.

    I love the NBA. You should too. Everything you need to know about HR an Talent can be learned in 48 minutes a night.

    Trust me... it will be a great season!

    NOTE: This was the last of the 'Best of 2015' posts. Hope you enjoyed looking back on the year. HAppy New Year to everyone and we will see you back with fresh content next week.

    Tuesday
    Dec292015

    Best of 2015: The culture of performance, and firing by form letter

    NOTE: As 2015 winds down, so will 'regular' posts on the blog. For the next two weeks, I will be posting what I thought were the most interesting pieces I published in 2015. These were not necessarily the most popular or most shared, just the ones I think were most representative of the year in HR, HR Tech, workplaces, and basketball. Hope you enjoy looking back on the year and as always, thanks for reading in 2015.

    Next up a piece from June, titled The Culture of Performance, and Firing by Form Letter, a simple example of how organizational culture (needs to) manifest itself in approaches to talent management.

    The culture of performance and firing by form letter

    Super look at just one of the ways that a 'performance is the only thing that matters' culture that is professional American football manifests itself over at Deadspin last week in the piece This is the the letter you get when you are cut from an NFL team.

    Take a look at a typical player termination letter from one of the league's clubs, the Houston Texans:

    A couple of things about the letter, and then i am out for the rest of a summer Monday.

    1. First up, in a really hands-on job like 'NFL Player', physical ability to perform issues are number 1 and 2 on the 5 possible termination reasons. For the rest of us who are not NFL players, this could equate to keeping up our skills, learning new ones as business and technology shifts, and importantly, not 'faking' it in terms of what we say we can do.

    2. Reason 3, and the one that this example from 2006 shows, says basically, 'You are just not good enough, i.e., the other guys on the team are better'. No details, no wordy explanations or nuances. Just a cut and dried 'You're not good enough.' That's cold, but again, completely aligned with the organizational values and culture. Performance trumps everything. Want a high-performance culture? Then you have to be ruthless in trimming the organization of people who don't meet the standard. And you as a leader can't let it bother you too much either.

    3. The organization also has a broad right to terminate you for 'personal conduct that adversely affects or reflects on the club'. Heck, that could be just about anything, since it is the club who gets to evaluate the 'impact' of your behavior. In other words, we (mostly) care about your physical condition and your performance, but we can fire your butt for just about anything we want at any time. Heck, that sounds a lot like many of the places us 'normals' work too. Employment at will is a great deal for sure. Until you get fired, well, just 'because.'

    Hiring, promoting, rewards, and even terminations all play a big role in defining, supporting, and communicating an organization's values and culture. If you are going to go all-in on high performance, well, you need to remember the dark side of that decision too.

    And firing by form letter is one example of that.

    Have a great week!

    Friday
    Dec182015

    What to do when your best employee stops being coachable

    Interesting tale on coaching, power dynamics, and the implications of chasing 'top' talent above all from the world of sports (Shock!), that is going down at one of the world's most famous and influential soccer clubs, Real Madrid. 

    If you don't follow world soccer, all you really need to know is that Real Madrid consistently ranks amongst Europe's (and the world's) best club teams. They regularly compete for Spanish league and European Champion's League (a competition open to only the top club teams from across Europe), and their roster is filled with top-level talent, most of whom feature for their national sides in the World Cup and other national contests.  Simply put, Real Madrid is an elite club filled with elite players, none of whom more talented and famous than Cristiano Ronaldo, one world soccer's most talented players.

    Ronaldo has won the Ballon D'Or (award for the top soccer player in the world) three times, and has served as the captain of his Portuguese national team since 2008. In short, Ronaldo is the epitome of 'top talent' - he is a soccer player sure, but his level of success and prestige could be in any field really, for the point I am (finally) about to get to.

    Turns out that Ronaldo, as one of the best players in the world, is not all that keen on being 'coached', even when the coaching seems directly related to a recent performance issue.  From a piece posted recently on the Irish Independent on Ronaldo's reaction to a suggestion for potential performance improvement from Real Madrid's manager Rafa Benitez:

    A request from Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez  for Cristiano Ronaldo to undergo studies to improve his free-kick technique has worsened the fragile relationship between the pair according to reports in Spain. The Portuguese star is hailed as one of the finest dead ball specialists in the world, but his struggled to find the net as regularly in recent times. Ronaldo's strike against Malmo last week during the 7-0 Champions League rout of the Swedish side was his first goal from a free-kick in seven months.

    According to José Félix Díaz of (Spanish paper), El Chiringuito, Ronaldo's opinion of the under pressure Spaniard (Benitez) plummeted after attempting to improve his free-kick precision by asking the Portuguese superstar to undergo a biometric study.

    The reporter claims the Madrid star left the room when this was suggested.

    A lot to unpack here, but let's try to tease out the important points in concise fashion:

    1. Ronaldo is the best player on a very successful team

    2. Ronaldo has (or late) been struggling in one specific performance area - scoring goals from direct free kicks, something at which he in the past has been very proficient

    3. His manager, (essentially his boss for the rest of us), suggests some advanced work and analysis to get at the root of the issue, and (ideally) to generate some changes in Ronaldo's technique and preparation in hopes of improving his performance on free kicks

    4. (Allegedly), upon hearing these suggestions from his manager, Ronaldo storms out of the room, declaring the meeting is over

    Essentially, Ronaldo has ceased being coachable. His past success, stature, and position of value over replacement, (if you get rid of Ronaldo you are almost certainly not replacing him with anyone nearly as talented), have left him, at least in his view, immune to coaching or any other attempts at manager-led performance improvement. Ronaldo is Rafa Benitez' and Real Madrid's problem now, but you might one day have a similar problem with a top performer on your team. Let's admit it, after a while most of us once we hit a level of good performance are not all that excited to be told how we should be better. So what can you or any manager do when faced with this situation? 

    I can think of a couple of things, and also one important 'look in the mirror' type question as well.

    1. Play the 'example' card - By not taking direction and coaching from Benitez, Ronaldo is also sending a message to the rest of the team that it is ok around here to not be receptive to coaching. While that may not matter to a player as talented as Ronaldo, there are not many, (really hardly any), other players of his caliber around. You can try to appeal to the star's sense of example or legacy here. You can appeal to the star's ego a little bit too by playing the 'Just try this so you can show the younger/newer/less talented than you guys what THEY need to do to get better. 

    2. Be patient with failure before the 'try it this way' speech - I heard a really interesting interview with the actor Alec Baldwin recently on whether or not actor's (many of them possessing giant egos like our pal Ronaldo seems to), appreciate taking direction on their performances from movie and TV directors. Baldwin's take was that he did appreciate direction, but he liked it to come naturally or more organically. He liked the ability to try a scene three or four times for the director before the director interjects with a coaching nudge, a 'how about we try it this way?' approach to getting to the director's desired outcome. The idea is that talented people can take coaching, but they sometimes need more time and space to accept the coaching than the average performer.

    3. Ask yourself if you are 'managing' because you are the 'manager' - Big talents, big stars like Ronaldo are at times a threat to those ostensibly 'above' them in the organizational hierarchy. Ronaldo knows that Real Madrid can't easily replace his talent, but could fairly easily replace his manager Benitez with a similarly qualified manager if the need were to arise. Benitez knows this too. And often in sports, as is probably the case  in corporate life as well, a manager will feel threatened by this power imbalance, and 'invent' coaching interventions for the star talent just to attempt to assert his/her 'official' authority in the relationship. This is the 'I am the coach, and he/she needs to listen to me no matter what' kind of thinking. But if you are the manager/boss, you need to really careful if you push this too far. Talent (still) runs the world. And you will only start to seem petty and paranoid if you continually are coaching talent that has mostly figured everything out on their own.

    Most managers never have someone as great as Ronaldo to 'manage'. The interesting question in all this I think is what it really suggests about what the best managers are all about.

    Is it coaxing that last 1% of performance out of a 99th percentile talent like Ronaldo?

    Or is it helping raise the game of the vast majority of the 60th - 70th players on the team and bringing a few of them up into the 'top' performer category?

    Think about it.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Dec022015

    You can learn plenty from a simple employee tenure chart

    Count of employees by years of tenure. Quite possibly the simplest workforce metric, (can we even call it a 'metric?'. I guess), that exists. And since it is so simple, really it is just counting up the number of employees at different levels of tenure like 1 year, 2 years, more than 10 years, etc., it probably can't tell us all that much about the conditions or capabilities of a large workforce right?

    Well maybe this simple metric can tell us a little more than we think. Take a look at the data below, and before you skip ahead to the rest of the post to see where the data is drawn from, ask yourself what this simple data set might say or at least suggest about the organization in question:

    EXPERIENCE

    NUMBER

    First year

              10

    Second year

              13

    Third year

                1

    Fourth year

                0

    Fifth year

                1

    6-9 years

             21

    10-15 years

             38

    16-20 years

             27

    21-27 years

            10

    Source: (see below)

     

    So what can we discern from the data above, on the tenure counts of a group of employees that do pretty much the same job inside a mid-sized organization?

     

    Obviously there is a visible 'gap' in experience levels across this group - there is a huge cluster of the total of 121 employees in the group (about 61%) having more than 10 years experience and another smaller, but not insignificant grouping having between 1 and 2 years experience, (about 20%). But in between these clusters at the extremes of experience? Not many employees at all. In fact there are only 2 out of 121 employees having between 3 and 5 years experience on the job - often the 'sweet spot' for proficiency in many roles, but more on that in a second.

     

    What might we then deduce about the potential issues that might face any organization, (and again, we will get to which specific organization data set represents soon), with this kind of 'hollowed-out' tenure distribution?

     

    I can think of at least three things, and I promise I am not trying to allow my knowledge of who this organization is to reach these observations:

     

    1. Something in this organization's recruiting/onboarding/mentoring/early development for new employees is not working. To have effectively about zero staff in the 3 - 5 years of experience cohort says you either are bringing the wrong type of people into the role, or are failing to get them up to speed to the point where they are succeeding within 3 years. The chart, simple as it is, can't tell us what exactly is wrong, but that certainly something is wrong.

     

    2. Although this is just a tenure chart, and not an 'age' chart, it doesn't require too much of a stretch to conclude that this organization is going to face a pretty serious issue with older workers either retiring or with them simply unable to perform in the role at a high level once they hit a certain age. There are pretty significant physical and fitness requirements for this role, making it not the kind of job that most people can continue in much past say 60 or so. This lack of balance in experience with the heavy skew towards 10 and 15 year plus employees is going to present acute issues in the next 3 - 5 years (and possibly beyond).

     

    3. An organization with this kind of tenure distribution probably has not kept up from a talent management and recruiting perspective with the increasing demands of the role. Like most jobs, the one held by the folks in this chart has become more complex in the last few years, has more scrutiny and pressure placed upon the people in the role, and the employees have more at stake in terms of money and prestige for the organization that employs them. In a nutshell, this job, while being around for about 100 years or so, has in the last 10 or so gotten much, much harder. And the 'gap' in the talent pipeline shows us that recruiting, development, and mentoring efforts have not kept up. Entire new classes of new hires are gone inside if 5 years.

     

    Ok, so who is this organization/group of employees who are reflected in the above chart?

     

    No one but the National Football League's on-field officials - the 'Zebras' that officiate and adjudicate the action on the fields of America's most popular professional sports league, the NFL.

     

    And increasingly, these on-field officials are in the news for all the wrong reasons - missed calls, bad calls, failure to recognize clearly concussed and barely vertical players after they are smashed in the head, and so on. This group of employees, as a group, have been performing poorly for some time now. And the talent pipeline as we see above does not indicate that things are about to get any better anytime soon.

     

    The big lessons for the rest of us?

     

    Pay attention to tenure. Sure, it is not the only or even the most important simple metric to think about. But if it takes 3 or 4 or 5 years for someone to really become expert at the job, and you have hardly any employees in those buckets, then you are going to have organizational performance issues. You will have too many folks on the downslope of their capability and too many who have not yet figured out what the heck is going on. And not enough folks heading up towards their peak.

     

    You are not always recruiting, developing, mentoring, and retaining to ensure high performance this week - sometimes you are doing all of those things to ensure high performance four years from now.

     

    And football is still dumb.

     

    Tuesday
    Nov242015

    For your Holiday weekend viewing: The 8 Man Rotation's favorite sports movies

    We're heading into a long holiday weekend, at least in the USA, and it is quite possibly the greatest holiday of them all - Thanksgiving. Eating, drinking, sleeping, eating some more, taking in some sports on TV or in person, shopping - it is the quintessential American holiday no doubt.

    Since you will likey spend large parts of the next four or five days in turkey/stuffing/mashed potato coma, and will be for long stretches glued to your sofa and/or La-Z-Boy chairs, you need something to keep you passively entertained. But fear not gentle readers, The 8 Man Rotation crew, (Kris Dunn, Lance Haun, Tim Sackett, Matt 'akaBruno' Stollak, and yours truly), have you covered.

    Because what you really want to do this holiday weekend is catch up on some of the greatest sports movies ever made and we at The 8 Man Rotation take sports, and sports movies very seriously. So seriously that we spent a collective 17 emails and 37 minutes coming up with our favorites which we wanted to share. So fire up your Netflix and have fun with these selections this weekend:

    The 8 Man Rotation's Favorite Sports Movies.

    Tim Sackett:

    Any Given Sunday: All you have to say is “Pacino’s Speech” - maybe the best movie coach speech of all time! "The inches we need are everywhere around us.  They are in ever break of the game every minute, every second. On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves, and everyone around us to pieces for that inch. We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the fucking difference between WINNING and LOSING, between LIVING and DYING."

    Hoosiers: Jimmy Motherf$%&!&ing Chitwood. When Coach Dale calls the play in the huddle to win the game, using Jimmy as a decoy and Jimmy says just pass the ball to me, I’ll make the shot.  Every basketball kids fantasy. Classic over-coaching as well. Just give the ball to your best player and win or lose knowing you gave it your best shot with your best talent. 

    White Man Can’t Jump: The beginning of main stream trash talking! Before this movie you only talked trash if you could back it up. After this movie, trash talking became an art form on the court and off.  The movie also addressed, and made fun, so many stereotypes as well. This wasn’t the norm in 1992, which made it somewhat shocking to watch at the time. 

    Bonus sports movie footage for the, underrated, Tom Cruise fans. Top three Tom Cruise sports movies:

    1. All The Right Moves. It was 1983 and I was in Love with Tom’s co-star in the movie, a young Lea Thompson. Coming of age football. Friday Night Lights, twenty years before it became cool.
    2. Days of Thunder. Cole Trickle might be the best Nascar name that isn’t a real Nascar name! Nicole Kidman, pre-Mrs. Cruise, as a co-star, I’m still wondering how they made him taller than her!
    3. Jerry Maguire.  The best non-sports, sport movie of all time.  NFL, Agents and the line I say to my wife almost daily, “Don’t Ever Stop F$%&$% Me” to lead the movie off!

    VIDEO - Hoosiers, 'I'll make it':

    Lance Haun:

    My two favorite sports movies, Major League and Caddyshack, are two sports I absolutely hate watching and playing. Neither are really critically acclaimed but if I see one of these come on cable, I'm watching them until the end. Caddyshack gets the nod because it's infinitely quotable, has unnecessary nudity, and includes Bill Murray and an actually funny Chevy Chase. My favorite quote that I plan to use as a father: "You'll get nothing, and like it!"

    VIDEO: Caddyshack, 'Right in the lumberyard'

    Matt 'The Professor' Stollak:

    As I said in one of the HR Happy Hour #8ManRotation shows, we blog about sports and HR because we are looking to connect with our fathers.  That same theme carries out in movies about sports:

    Field of Dreams - That movie is one long play so that Kevin Costner can have one last catch with his dad


    Breaking Away - Four townies trying to make it in Bloomington, IN and win the Little 500 bike race.  Hard to beat the exhilaration when Dave races against the semi-trucks on the highway.  But, all Dave really wants to do is be accepted by his dad, and he takes some pride when he sees his father try bike riding at the end of the film.

    VIDEO - Breaking Away trailer:

    Kris Dunn:

    He Got Game: Denzel, Spike Lee, a backdrop of hoops and Ray Allen starring as “Jesus Shuttlesworth”.  I love the story of a complicated father/son relationship as Denzel tries to parlay his way out of prison by encouraging his son (Jesus) to play at Big State U, which just happens to be the school of choice for the governor.  Great music spanning a lot of tastes from dramatic orchestra scores to Public Enemy.  Spike Lee perspective in Camera shots.  Fun fact: One of my sons got asked at church at a young age what the last name of Jesus (son of god, not Ray Allen) was.  That’s a trick question in a church setting.  My young son didn’t miss a beat – he raised his hand like Horseshack in Welcome Back Kotter and enthusiastically said, “Shuttlesworth”.  Welcome to the Dunn family, where everything has a hoops influence.

    Bull DurhamYou haven’t lived until you’ve had a son who’s played baseball and coached with another guy who knows all the lines to this movie.  The game in front of you actually becomes secondary.  You sit down next to a 10 year old in the dugout and say, “get a notepad, because it’s time to practice your cliches.”  Two minutes later, the kid is repeating the wisdom of Crash Davis - “I just hope I can help the team” and “It’s a simple game – you throw the ball, you catch the ball”.  After he has the cliches down, you bring the kid inside for senior level Crash Davis: “Anything that travels that far should have a stewardess” as an example.  Then, the fun is suddenly over when he commits two errors in the field and you resume screaming at him to "man up”.  Sports movies can only take you so far.

    Any Given Sunday:  A must for any sports fan who wants to think about talent from the lens of sports.  While I agree with Tim Sackett that the Pacino speech is classic, I’m going deep in this movie and tell you that hall of famer Jim Brown is the hidden gem.  Playing the role of Defensive Coordinator, he steals the movie from Pacino and Jamie Foxx with two scenes that are coaching classics.  The first scene involves Brown going on a sidelines diatribe towards his defense and a player encouraging him to calm down before he has a stroke, to which Brown replies, “I don’t get strokes Mother#######, I GIVE THEM”.   The second scene involves Brown addressing the team at halftime and using a chalkboard diagraming X’s and O’s, with the following gem: “Now you’re dumb enough, so we made it simple enough.  We made this #### real ####ing simple (as he pounds the chalk against the board)”.  Who among us couldn’t use that line at times in corporate America?

    VIDEO: Bull Durham, 'Cliches'

    Steve Boese:

    I am going to break this down a little differently - going with my favorite movie from each of the 'major' sports, then tossing in one more as a wild-card. Here goes:

    Basketball - Hoop Dreams. While there have been many more entertaining and funny basketballs movies made, (Fast Break, The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, Semi-Pro), there has never been a basketball movie as gripping as the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams. Following the exploits of then high school stars William Gates and Arthur Agee and their struggles to escape their tough upbringing through basketball, Hoop Dreams is an essential sports drama, except it is all too real.  

    Baseball - Moneyball. Sure, by now you are sick of Moneyball. You probably have even seen the real-life protagonists of Moneyball, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta, (the Jonah Hill character in the movie), on the HR conference speaking circuit, maybe even more than once. But that doesn't take away from the story, and just how innovative and influential that Moneyball has been not only in baseball, but in sports (and business) overall. Also, a highly re-watchable movie. If you catch this one on F/X on a random Tuesday night, you are locked in. Honorable mention to Pride of the Yankees and The Natural.

    Football - The Longest Yard, the original from 1974, not that Adam Sandler nonsense. Peak Burt Reynolds leading a team of prison inmates in a brutal game against the guards? Sign me up. Plus, great performances from Richard Kiel and NFL legend Ray Nitschke. Honorable mention to North Dallas Forty and Friday Night Lights.

    Hockey - Youngblood. Hockey is a terrible, ridiculous sport, and consequently almost every movie about hockey is also terrible and ridiculous. Youngblood is the exception to that rule. A very young Rob Lowe, the underrated Patrick Swayze playing the quintessential Patrick Swayze-type role, and 'Why didn't she become a bigger star?' Cyntiha Gibb as the love interest for Lowe's Dean Youngblood character. Will Dean learn how to survive on the ice? Will dating the coaches daughter ruin his chances to make the big time? Is that Ed Lauter in another movie? Who cares - just doze off back on the sofa, you can snooze through long stretches of this movie and not miss anything. Honorable mention to Slap Shot.

    Wild Card - Going with another documentary here, this time the 1977 bodybuilding epic Pumping Iron. Featuring Arnold before he was ARNOLD, Lou Ferrigno before he was The HULK, and a slew of other bodybuilders from the Venice, California scene in the late 70s, Pumping Iron is a fantastically entertaining film. Watching Arnold mentally toy with his chief Mr. Olympia rival Ferrigno in the run up to the competition is like watching a master of manipulation and mind games at his absolute peak. Just a great, gripping watch even if you are not a fan of bodybuilding. Looking back you can see signs in the 1977 Arnold that he had designs on much, much more than just winning bodybuilding contests.

    VIDEO: Moneyball, 'What is the problem?'

    Good stuff, right? Of course.

    Thanks to the 8 Man crew for the contributions. And please chime in in the comments with your top sports movies that we should have queued up this weekend.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

     

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