Playing the Game v. Winning the Game

In every competition, whether it be buying a car, selecting a phone, finding a mate, or cheerleading, there are things that allow you to play the game, Necessities, and things that give you a chance of winning the game, Features. Necessities are the things you expect to be there, something essential to being a player in the game. Bumpers and a radio for a car are good examples of Necessities because I would never buy a car without them, but would never buy a car because of them either. 3G and apps in a smartphone are also now Necessities. I’d expect a smartphone to have 3G capabilities and apps, therefore having them isn’t really an advantage as much as not having them eliminates a phone as an option.

Features are things that stand out and can help you win. Push button start, in-dash navigation, infotainment, and a backup camera are things that would help me select one car over another, but none of them are necessary and I don’t expect every car to have these options. For phones, having LTE capabilities or Siri are things that would draw me to a phone but aren’t yet expected for every phone.

Let’s now relate this to a cheerleading routine. What is necessary to be in the game in L4? Simply having the majority of the team full up or switch up to the top, full down from a stretch or arabesque, standing tuck, running layout, and two trick basket means you are ready to play, but won’t put you in a position to win. To win the game you need to add Features, the extra “wow factor” that separates your team and routine from the others.

Let’s take the car example a little further by comparing the Features of Honda Accord models. The LX-S models comes with the basics. It’s enough that you can say you have an Accord and it will get you in the game, but it’s not quite as good as the other options. The EX model upgrades the interior and the sound system and adds power windows and a moonroof. It’s still an Accord, but it’s clearly better than the LX-S. The EX-L upgrades the seats to heated leather seats and adds XM Radio and the top of the line EX-L V-6 adds 18-inch wheels and a spoiler while upgrading the engine. Both are better than the previous models and all of them are still Accords.

In L4 cheerleading terms, the basic LX-S is the 20 person team with 12 standing tucks and layouts, switch up liberties, and basic everything else. They can win some local events and are usually beating teams that haven’t realized they are really Honda Civics, aka L3. The slightly upgraded EX is the team with 16 tumblers performing switch up stretches with average baskets and an okay dance. This team can win regionally and place nationally but is unlikely to win a major event. The EX-L team adds full ups to the entire repertoire, has really good baskets and a hot dance and is capable of winning major events, but usually falls a little short on the biggest stages. The best teams, the EX-L V-6 teams, are the teams you expect to win. They have full squad tumbling and can out-stunt the regular EX-L teams. They also have great baskets and the dance of the day. These are the teams that decorate their walls with banners from Indy, Atlanta, and Dallas.

Let’s now apply the Necessity and Features thoughts to Event Producers. Spring floors, scoring rubrics, and USASF Rules are now Necessities, things required to be in the game, and every Event Producer is expected to use these. This hasn’t always been the case as none of these were widely used, if at all, when I got involved in cheerleading, but they have evolved into Necessities. Quality judging, production value, event size, and warm ups are Features that Event Producers can use to set themselves apart. Major events such as JAMfest Super Nationals, Cheersport Nationals and NCA All Star Nationals tend to get these things right and are 3 of the most significant events in our industry. Events that don’t push any of theĀ Features above and beyond what is average probably won’t be around much longer.

That leaves us with a question: What are you doing to determine what are Necessities and Features for your business?