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Beating the Odds

Avatar and You

“Avatar” arrives in force this weekend, and soon the artistic and financial reviews will be rolling in for this long-awaited film.

No matter how those reviews turn out, you have to give director James Cameron credit for the way he accepts risk as part of his job.

Back in 1997, he spent lavishly to produce “Titanic,” and it proved to be a blockbuster that paid for itself many times over.

This time the stakes are even higher. Not only is Avatar’s budget $500 million, but the movie is also an experiment in 3D.

Cameron would fit right in with the athletes in yesterday’s post, the ones like Peyton Manning, who can perform and deliver under pressure.

Like Cameron, every athlete must risk. Playing passively is a sure way to lose. In baseball, you risk missing the ball every time you swing. But you can’t hit the ball without swinging. In basketball, you risk a miss every time you shoot. But you can’t score unless you shoot.

More than one person has observed that when you throw a pass in football, three things can happen, and two of them are bad. Your pass can be caught by a teammate (good), not be caught at all (bad) or be caught by the opponent (really bad). But no coach would ever think of playing an entire game without throwing a pass.

And by no means is risk limited to game situations. Coaches must consider new ideas in conditioning, practice design, team-building, motivation, etc. Not everything will work. But that’s the risk.

So the question in coaching, just as it is in film-making, is not whether you should take risks. The question is how smart the risks are, and how well you will manage them.


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