Pay respect to your competitors

Derek Jeter on his retirement. Re2Pect

“Business is war. I go out there, I want to kill the competitors. I want to make their lives miserable. I want to steal their market share. I want them to fear me and I want everyone on my team thinking we’re going to win.”

This quote comes from Kevin O’Leary, billionaire, Shark Tank celebrity. He calls himself “Mr Wonderful”, which says it all about mindset.

Business is not war. It is not life or death. If you lose you do not die. If you win, you do not kill your opponent. Business is a game, just like Sport. There are winners and losers, there are scores, there are measurements, there is success, there is failure. However, it is only a game.

We then have a choice as to the way we choose to play the game.

This weekend I’ve just watched what was, to me, one of the greatest team performances in sports.

Today I want to talk about what that says about respect.

Rugby World Cup: England vs New Zealand – Respect

I’ve been a passionate international Rugby fan all my life. Yes, I’m a Scotland fan, but I love the game, whoever is playing. One key element of that is the level of respect players have for each other and for the game.

On Saturday, October 26th, 2019, England faced the New Zealand All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup semi-final.

The All Blacks are one of the most dominant teams in world sports. Going into the match they had won the last two world cups and 18 games in a row at successive Rugby World Cups. To say they were the favourites is putting it mildly, and yet…

The Haka

Right before the start of any international the All Blacks play, they are given (by tradition) the right to intimidate the opposition by performing a Maori war dance, the Haka.

I could sense something was different for this match though, as the England team, while still paying respect to the arrowhead formation of the Haka, did something unique. Instead of facing them in a horizontal line and staring it down, they chose to form a reverse V, as if to soak up the energy and say “we can handle anything you bring to us”.

England paid respect to the All Blacks, but they also, in so doing, respected themselves.

I’ll emphasise that. By respecting your opponents, you give yourself the opportunity to fully respect your own abilities and potential.

Now imagine the “business is war” proponents. They use language that belittles and disrespects their competition. To me, anyone who plays small in that way also diminishes themselves too.

The match

I won’t give a match report here, only to say that England were immense. They made the World Champions looks ordinary while, at the same time, they were giving the greatest performance by an England team I’ve seen in my entire life.

At no stage did it look like there would be any winner other than England.

For any Rugby fan talking about the All Blacks, that is an almost unfathomable statement, yet all who watched the match would agree on it as an amazing truth.

England paid respect to the All Blacks in their match preparation and the way they maintained their intensity to never let the All Blacks have a break. They also respected and so believed in their own abilities and any number of the England team can now say it was the best they had ever played.

After the match – Paying Respect

First of all, though I couldn’t find a photo from this match, for non-Rugby fans, as soon as a game ends, both teams respect each other by forming, one after the other, a guard of honour as they leave the field. England had defeated the world champions, so their guard of honour was fully respectful of that.

Now, after that, given the sense of occasion, two things happened that anchor the point around respect, one from each team.

The All Blacks went to their fans and took their final bow as they left the competition, bowing to the fans to pay respect.

All Black Respect

England then went to their fans and applauded them. Respect.

England Respect

An amazing occasion, a stunning spectacle of Rugby at the very highest level, all elevated by respecting your own team and your opponents, as well as the occasion and all involved.

Chapeau, Cycling, Derek Jeter, Yankees vs Red Sox

The photo at the top of this article is of the great Derek Jeter in his retirement game for the only baseball team he played for his entire career, the Yankees.

In cycling, there is a term. “Chapeau”, literally translating to “Hat”. It means to tip your hat to a competitor to pay them respect.

One of the favourite posts I’ve written talked of respecting endings and the final match that Andres Iniesta played at FC Barcelona’s stadium.

FC Barcelona Respect

In that post, “Take Endings Seriously“, after writing about Iniesta (a lovely story, truly), I talked about Derek Jeter and used the word Chapeau:

As someone who spent most of his adult life in the Americas rather than Europe, I recognise the importance of different cultural icons, so I am also reminded of the film made as an ad on the retirement of “#2”, Derek Jeter, another “one club” player, this time playing baseball for the NY Yankees. His entire final season was one where he was honoured at every game (as was Iniesta), and this ad moves me so much every time I watch it. So many of those “tipping the hat” will only be truly recognised by those who spent their lives in the Americas, yet we can all recognise “Re2spect” when we see it.

I’m a Tartan Turtle, a mongrel, so let me mangle my metaphors even more as a cycling fan and simply reflect, remember and respect. Chapeau, Derek Jeter. Chapeau Andrés Iniesta. Chapeau Ed Percival.

Respect, or, as the video below, full of much “Chapeau” tipping of the hat calls it to respect #2, Re2spect.

Oh, and back to the England vs New Zealand teams and their respect of each other. In the video you see Boston Red Sox fans tipping the hat to Jeter. There are very, very few team rivalries in sports such as the Red Sox vs Yankees. It means a lot, then, for Red Sox fans in the video to “Chapeau”.


Also published on Medium.

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