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Of politics, Panthers and changing business

Heath E. Combs Staff WriterHeath E. Combs Staff Writer
Originally, I wanted to write about similarities between elections and business. But football metaphors kept popping up in my mind. Loss is an invaluable teacher in all three.
     Losing - consistently at the end of the game for my Carolina Panthers - hasn't been great for the team. Even with seemingly all the keys to winning in place, they were 3-8, with losses in six games by six or fewer points before last weekend's game.
     Talented tight end, check; quarterback, check; fullback, check; wide receivers, check; running backs, check; good defense, check. But they end up making a lot of little mistakes and can't quite close the sale.
     In football, business and elections, money and talent don't will success into being. The Washington Redskins have known this for years. To this armchair quarterback, the secret sauce in any venture appears to be hard work, communicating well, teamwork and ingenuity. Bottle that and you can create winners.
     In politics, I didn't think either presidential candidate was poor. I'll just say this: It's tough to win when you play too much defense and your offense isn't effective. You've got to put points on the board.
     Many have said this election was about demographic shifts - but those have occurred forever in the United States.
   Third-parties and coalitions of strange bedfellows have always built political machines to win a distorted electorate. Ethnic groups - among others - have always been mobilized in politics to create a winning team.
     The game is always changing. In football, Sid Gillman, Don Coryell, Bud Carson and Buddy Ryan are associated with innovation. In furniture, I'd put Ashley Furniture and Ethan Allen up as some of the biggest game changers.
    While they all innovated, they also recognized sound core principles of the game. In the NFL, business and politics, the odds favor an innovation until everyone else adopts it or another innovation sidelines it. Or the innovator continues doing it best.
     Distractions can quickly take you out of the game. The NFL realized replacement refs were taking away from the real attraction on the gridiron. Negotiations proceeded quickly.
     Woe was JCPenney for confusing its base with the "Fair and Square" pricing scheme.
   Our industry has embraced change. We've watched traditional high-end suppliers add clean-lined contemporary and broaden their focus, mindful of a changing consumer.
     The electorate is also changing. This election season, I saw few of the expensive hate-ad drivel candidates were throwing at each other, mainly because of my TV viewing habits. I DVR most of my shows, watched the debates, read the party platforms and followed the news online. I can watch a football game in 90 minutes because I don't want to be a slave to traditional time-eating television.
     A changing populace takes different ideologies to the polls, but they all take the same dollars to the store or the stadium.

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