Cycle of success
So sport’s lesson for effective and sustainable growth must lie elsewhere. But where?
Anyone paying attention to the parallels between sport and business knows the name of Sir David Brailsford, figurehead of the movement that transformed British Cycling and inaugurator of the system of marginal gains and continuous development. Suffice to say that the revolution he brought about achieved such dominance of Olympic track cycling that the rules had to be changed to give the rest a chance.
Sir David later moved on to road cycling, and it’s instructive to see how that ecosystem deals with the balance between winning and taking part. Take, for example, the Tour de France, where Sir David’s Team Sky appear to have weathered the storm of resentment and suspicion that followed the Lance Armstrong era and are now enhancing a spectacle that’s managing to grow in both scale and quality.
A key reason for Le Tour’s renaissance may be that the event caters for more than one winner. There is, of course, an overall champion, but the honour of wearing the famous yellow jersey is awarded provisionally every day, meaning several riders enjoy the privilege during the three weeks of the race; ditto the green, white and spotted jerseys. There are daily awards for the best team performance and for the most aggressive rider. In short, there’s always something to compete for.