Mark Cuban, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, isn’t known for his reserved nature or tact, and he lived up to his reputation in a recent interview. When asked about the National Football League, Cuban went on the attack with a series of pointed observations:
“I think the NFL is 10 years away from an implosion. … I’m just telling you, pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. And they’re getting hoggy. … I’m just telling you, when you’ve got a good thing and you get greedy, it always, always, always, always, always turns on you. That’s rule number one of business.”
Cuban is a savvy businessman, and what he said about getting greedy in business has been proven right. You can see it in the restaurant business when chains like Krispy Kreme try to go nationwide and then close hundreds of locations. You see it in publishing when a book publisher has a best-seller and then over-hires and over-expands only to get bought out by a larger house because it can no longer afford its expenses. Is the NFL on the same path? Maybe. They play games in London and are considering Mexico City. Games are on three nights a week, and the NFL might not stop there. The league has discussed adding two games to the schedule for all teams. Time will tell if this is smart or “hoggy” strategy. Give it 10 years and check back.
Greed isn’t just a business problem. Neither is hogginess or over-expansion. Most of us can’t let a good thing stay a good thing. We try to duplicate enjoyable experiences and re-create them. We share and over-share every fun thing or pleasurable moment. And to a point, as in business, such efforts do increase the good. But too often we don’t know when to stop. Instead of enjoying what we have and who we’re with, we feel the urge to constantly collect, expand, meet, and experience. In the process we appreciate the present good less and less as we hunt for more and more.
Just as in business, constant expansion will hollow us out, weaken us, and lead to collapse. Instead of losing fans or market share or millions of dollars we lose relationships. We sacrifice peace of mind and a satisfied soul. A business runs out of assets and loses return on their investments. We run out of emotional capital and capacity to enjoy anything.
Greed is the antithesis of thankfulness. You might think ungratefulness is, but ungratefulness is simply where thankfulness stops. Greed is where we turn and run from it. Every person is prone to greed in some area: new experiences, fun, relational contact, love, money, status, pleasure, happiness, and so on. We are difficult to please but easy to trick into thinking we’re pleased. Just as a business must manage its resources and be cautious in expansion, so we must be careful with our pursuit of more lest we become hoggy, then slaughtered.