It’s winter, and that means it is time to watch college and NFL football games on TV. It is truly a time of paradise for the couch potato. While watching football, it sometimes crosses my mind how much that sport and farming have in common. However, the one obvious dissimilarity between football and farming is the pay involved. Nevertheless, here are a few ways football and farming are similar “games."
Really good football teams practice hard and are constantly looking to improve. If farm owners think like great athletes do, they will look for continual growth. Farmers who are looking to improve take educational courses such as those offered from Extension and farm organizations such as the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin.
To prepare for a football game, coaches scout the opponent, develop a game plan and determine the best lineup of players to win the game. Similarly, farm owners should develop a business plan for their farm. The business plan should be created using good data such as an accurate balance sheet, profit/loss statement, etc. The business plan should also state the farm owners’ goals and a plan for achieving them. Like a game plan, a business plan is a work in progress and must be revisited regularly.
Farm owners take courses to improve their animal, agronomy and business management skills. In addition, a successful farm owner, much like a successful football coach, provides the employees who make up their team with the right training. Better-trained employees are more likely to score more wins for the team.
In football, one good player does not make a successful team (think Barry Sanders from the Detroit Lions). To have a successful football team or farm, each person, no matter his or her role, must perform at his or her best. Farm owners should encourage those involved in the farm to find ways to improve their performance.
Every player on a football team knows what he is working toward: a championship trophy. It is surprising how many times farm employees do not understand the goals they are working toward on a farm. In addition, sometimes these employees do not get the support they need to achieve these goals.
A great team needs a great coach. A great coach creates enthusiasm for playing the game and a passion for success. At the end of the day, the coach takes the brunt of the blame for losing a game. A good coach is accountable and does this without making excuses. Likewise, a first-class farmer will not try to blame others for his or her poor decisions and mistakes.
Not all football coaches coach their teams the same. It is the same with farm managers. The important thing is that the team respects the manager and his or her management style.
During a football game, coaches consult with assistants to get advice and constantly make adjustments. Successful farm owners also consult with experts in certain areas of production or management. Successful farm owners also constantly make adjustments to deal with external changes, such as poor prices or internal challenges that occur at the farm.
Every football team loses games, has players who get injured, etc. A successful football team will rise above that and play even harder the next game. Likewise, farms can suffer financial, personal or other types of setbacks. However, a successful farm will be resilient and deal with these types of setbacks.
Many farm owners will say it's the details that get the extra 10 pounds of milk from the cows or the 20 extra bushels of corn per acre. Likewise, in football, a finely tuned block or a well-run pass route can make the difference. Sometimes, football is a game of inches, not yards.
In farming, like other businesses, many people limit themselves and do not achieve a fraction of what they are capable of because they are afraid they will fail. However, in football, sometimes a calculated risk, like going for it on the fourth down, will win the game. The same can apply in farming.
As you can see, farming and football have a lot in common. Hopefully, your farm is able to have a winning season.
Schneider is a partner in the ag law firm of Twohig, Rietbrock Schneider and Halbach S.C. Call Schneider at 920-849-4999.