Friday, March 23, 2012

Is your "bonus" a "bounty"?

Those who follow the New Orleans Saints football team know that they're going to have a tough season, courtesy a decision by the NFL Commissioner.

The NFL suspended New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams Wednesday for their roles in a bounty system that provided the team’s players payments for hits that injured opponents.

Williams was suspended indefinitely. Payton was suspended for one year, and Loomis was suspended for eight games, a person with knowledge of the measures said.

The rationale for the suspensions was explained by Commissioner Goodell:

“A combination of elements made this matter particularly unusual and egregious,” Goodell added. “When there is targeting of players for injury and cash rewards over a three-year period, the involvement of the coaching staff and three years of denials and willful disrespect of the rules, a strong and lasting message must be sent that such conduct is totally unacceptable and has no place in the game.”

So in effect, you can hit the opposing player, but you can't purposely try to knock the opposing player out of the game.

If that's the standard, then consider this:

The Blue Company and the Green Company are try to get the Brown contract. Both the Blue Company and the Green Company have determined that this is a "must win," and their account managers are instructed accordingly. If you win, you will be rewarded. If you lose, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

So both companies go after the Brown contract, and the Blue Company wins. (Why does the Blue Company win? Because I'm wearing a blue shirt today.)

The Blue Company account manager gets a huge bonus. The Green Company account manager gets to go home early.

"But that's different," you say. "The Green Company account manager wasn't injured for life by a 300 pound monster rushing at him."

Well, consider this:

A worker who was fired by Palm Bay (Fla.) Hospital went back to bid his former co-workers goodbye, then shot himself to death....

Or this:

A fired employee returned to his former workplace with a gun and killed a female worker and severely wounded her brother before taking his own life, police said.

These are just two of many examples where someone was taken off the field - possibly because of the actions of someone else - and was fatally injured as a result.

Let's face it, many competitive endeavors - sports, proposals, etc. - are zero-sum games. We all want to win. But someone wins, someone loses.

So what is the line between rewarding winning behavior and engaging in actions that harm the losers?
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