Totilas. No, not Tortillas, this has nothing to do with Mexican food. Tortilas is a wonder horse. A legend in dressage riding (to all of you getting a bit nervous now: Don’t be afraid, this will only be a short excursion to dressage, I will come to soccer in a minute…).
The stallion who was born and raised in the Netherlands holds the World Record score in Grand Prix Freestyle dressage, he was a huge hope for the Dutch for the 2012 Olympic games, where they were expecting to be able to beat their rivals Germany with Totilas’ help.
However, in 2010, disaster struck for the Dutch: Totilas’ owner sold the horse to – Germany.
The Dutch equestrian Federation issued the following statement: “With much sadness – and that is a euphemism – we were informed of the sale of Totilas to Paul Schockemöhle”, and Dutch Olympic Champion Anky van Grunsven put it like this: “This is really, really bad for us. A horse like this won’t come again so quickly”. A very emotional topic.
Today at the European Championships, Totilas will have his first international start for Germany, taking place, ironically, in Rotterdam, Holland.
New owner Schockemöhle, himself former Olympic silver medalist (equestrian) comments: I believe the Dutch are sportsmen. In equitation, they are the most mercantile oriented people, and they also sell a lot of horses“.
There typically aren’t any hooligans in dressage,yet fan protests are expected.
Fan protests are something another man who is, like his fellow countryman Schockemöhle, pretty aware of the rules of market, has become used to during the past few years – or let me put it this way – should have become used to: Dietmar Hopp, co-founder of software giant SAP.
In a very unusual approach in German soccer, the billionaire sponsored his local team from Hoffenheim so heavily, that they went up many leagues until finally making it to the German top-flight Bundesliga. To understand why this is so special, you have to understand that in Germany it is not allowed to any private company or individual to own a controlling stake in a professional soccer clubs. The clubs are owned by their members, many of them have a long tradition and fan/ ownership culture.
Hoffenheim has not, but they have the money from their sponsor. Fans from more traditional teams therefore have been criticizing Hopp and his Hoffenheim model for years.
One of these clubs is Borussia Dortmund, who played at Hoffenheim last Saturday. As usual, fan chants were quite aggressive against Hopp, who in the past has not always dealt with this kind of situations in a relaxed manner. But as he’s not into dressage but soccer instead, these loud criticisms (“Dietmar Hopp, son of a b…”) are what can be expected to come from the stands.
However this time, members of the Hoffenheim organization put up some loudspeakers in front of the away fans section and every time anti-Hopp songs started, they played a loud, high-pitch sound to stop Dortmund supporters from singing insulting chants.
Right now, they are in the middle of a media disaster (“Hopp-gate”) because of it, and one Dortmund supporter already sued Hoffenheim as he suffered a tinnitus at the stadium.
Yet there’s also another way of dealing with the commercial side of sports:
A few days ago, Spanish soccer player Javi Poves from Sporting Gijon quit the game at the age of 24. Poves, who mainly played in Gijon’s reserves in the third league but also already appeared in the first team, gave as a reason that “the more you know about football the more you realize it is all about money, it is rotten and kills your enthusiasm“. He feels that the money he got was only coming from the suffering of others and wanted to fight for more equality.
Upcoming weekend, the season in Spain is about to start. Well maybe. The players association threatens with a strike because of payment delays.
These were a couple of examples of where capitalism collided with emotion. They were taken from the world of sports, which is known to be very emotional, and most of the economic models there are based on the emotional involvement of the customers.
In the background of all professional sports, there are professional, economic organizations doing professional, economic things.
What these stories tell us is valid anywhere, not only in sports:
Economy must never disregard the emotional factors.
Customers are emotional, they don’t act rational. So if we come up with a rationally sound offer but don’t connect on the emotional level, we won’t be successful.
Markets behave emotional. And even those areas of the economy that are probably the least emotional one – financial markets – often stumble when market don’t behave in the way their mathematical models thought they would, but based on panic, greed or other emotions.
Emotion creates heat. It’s not just about figures, you will be criticized in fair or unfair, yet emotional, ways for emotional reasons all the time and probably you’ll do the same with others. It’s part of the game. If you can’t take the heat, stay off the kitchen. Just shouting back in a loud, high-pitch sound won’t make things better. On the contrary.