Home > Uncategorized > The art of persuasion – a new age of reverse psychology

The art of persuasion – a new age of reverse psychology

Major League Baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, has been reported to be considering a re-alignment idea that would allow teams to switch divisions year to year based on geography, payroll, and intentions to contend for a championship. It’s difficult not to wonder if this is really as ridiculous as it sounds.

An article in the Toronto Star written by Richard Griffin suggest that Selig, not being as dumb as the floating re-alignment idea makes him seem, “must [have] another motive behind this initiative,” and “must be angling for something else… for instance, a few additional wild-card teams” to give more teams a chance to contend.

Griffin’s suspicion seems reasonable, and it seems to be a certain kind of reverse psychology in an attempt to get what he wants without having to take responsibility for suggesting it. It’s clever, and really very simple.

I recently saw a repeat episode of That 70s Show in which Donna forces Eric to help register for their wedding. As you might imagine, Eric does not want any part of the shopping excursion, and so his dad advises Eric to suggest registering items that are so incredibly ugly and unappealing that it will force Donna to say, “Oh forget it, I’ll just do it myself!” Eric takes the advice and it works like a charm.

It’s so simple! And maybe event a little immature; yet, these are the tactics that sports leagues like to employ so often to get their way without having to propose the changes themselves.

Meanwhile, all the talk in the hockey world has been about a problem with head shots. The recent Matt Cooke incident was the last straw for the NHL, and every hockey observer on both sides of the legal and illegal hits debate stood up and said that something has to be done… RIGHT NOW!

A General Managers meeting took place and it was agreed that a new rule will be enacted to outlaw blind-side hits to the head. The NHL releases the news on the decision, explaining that once the new rule proposal is reviewed and accepted by the competition committee – a separate representative players committee – it will be entered into the rule book for the start of next season. At this point, it’s hard to believe that the rule proposal would not be accepted.

On the same day that this news is released, the NHL makes a surprise decision to NOT suspend Matt Cooke for his blind-side head hit on Marc Savard. Not surprisingly, the decision is met with incredible controversy, considering the severity of the hit, and that Savard is out the rest of the season suffering the effects of a serious concussion. Back in October, a very similar hit was delivered by Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers, which also did not result in any supplemental discipline, so the NHL says, the ruling must remain consistent with the rule back and with past precedents.

It appears consistency is the name of the game for the NHL (however contradictory this may seem for the NHL, perhaps good fodder for a whole other discussion). As long as they can argue consistency, the league seems to believe they cannot be questioned.

And so it goes as planned and the NHL is now faced with outside pressure to not wait until the start of next season, and put the rule into effect as soon as possible. After all, Cooke was not suspended because the new rule is not currently in place. That means until the rule comes into effect, it remains open season on blind-side head shots. Clearly, nobody wants this violence to continue any longer, so for the protection of the players and in the best interest of the league, the decision is made to not wait for a full review from the competition committee, and the NHL will go ahead with the necessary training for referees and have the rule entered into the book before the start of the playoffs.

Considering the importance and severity of the issue at hand, the NHL probably could have made the decision to speed up the process on their own without waiting for outside pressures to build. Surely, no one really would have questioned the NHL for making a bold executive decision for a speedy rule change. Yet, it’s possible they even played out this charade to force the hand of the competition committee and the players association, generating the necessary outside pressures to avoid a brouhaha with stubborn athletes. Ultimately, it’s really just so much easier to respond to external pressures than to honestly acknowledge their own responsibilities.

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