Seth Godin recently posted an observation regarding those who get ahead by gaming the system vs. those who work the system to get ahead. The post is called “Spirit of the Game,” and it’s called that because Ultimate Frisbee has a tenet by the same name.
I think the point of his post, that there is a difference between beating the system and working the system is generally sound. I would quibble, instead with the analogy.
As a 20 year veteran of Ultimate Frisbee, I’ve always found that the “spirit of the game” claim is nothing more than marketing that serves more to make ultimate players feel their game is superior to other sports.
Nearly all sports, except ultimate, have referees. However, ultimate hints at superiority over other sports because they’re all level-headed and fair enough to call their own rules transgressions. The only problem is that though the sport may claim those things, it is still played by human beings… the same humans who compete in other sports – and in business.
My experience has been that show me a competitive ultimate game, and I’ll show you a call made by a player that leads to a game-stopping, ill-will driving (and possibly entire-team-involving) delay. Whereas other sports would have an impartial referee call infractions so the game can stop, reset and move on, even the highest levels of ultimate can devolve to a pick-up game level argument that interrupts the game.
Systems evolve due largely to human behavior. Ultimate Frisbee, instead, adheres to the belief that they can use an outdated system that has long since been discredited by those who game the system.
Seth’s analogy also falls apart because many players learn the rules simply so they can use them against the other team. Take this example:
I played in a tournament in which one of our players caught the frisbee in the endzone for a point. There was no disagreement that she was in. However, our player didn’t know she was in, so she threw it to another of our players who was “more” in. That player let the disc hit the ground because he knew the point had already scored.
The opposing team called us out on a little known rule that said if the player doesn’t know their in, then the point doesn’t count. This was 11 years ago, so I’m not sure if that rule still exists.
So, which is a greater display of “spirit” – to learn the most obscure rules and use them against a competitor or to allow a point that was scored legitimately and without incident to count?
There’s a fine line between gaming the system and working the system, and NewTunes hopes only to play within the system. There are a lot music discovery websites out there – Pandora, Musicovery, to name a few. We’re not afraid of them, nor are we trying to beat them.
Music discovery is a big space, and we’re pretty sure there’s room for all of us – and then some. There are enough musicians and enough fans that I think we can all enjoy success in this industry.