Dichotomy of a speedskating team

Last week, I posted on my twitter about the curious relationship between Apple, Facebook, and Google. These three giants of tech need each other to flourish but also are bitter rivals trying to vie for the finite dollars in the tech industry. The link to the article can be found here.

The more I think about that relationship, the more it reminds me of a speedskating team. Gone are the days when you see a real top level skater able to train completely and utterly on their own. You need training partners to push yourself and make yourself better.  Sharing some of the lap load is essential. And teammates can make the drudgery of training a bit more fun.

However, there are a finite number of spots on a World Cup or Olympic team. More than likely you are going up against one of your teammates for one of these spots. Someone you have trained with day in and day out. Someone who knows your skating almost as well as you do. Someone you may consider a friend.

This dichotomy can be weird, especially if the team you are on is dysfunctional. Those potential rivalries can get in the way of hard training and become a distraction. If no one is willing to work together because of the fear that you are helping out a potential rival you all might as well go home. Just like it would be impossible for Facebook to one day say that it was no longer going to work with Apple. Facebook needs Apple’s hardware for mobile reach and would be toast without it. And invariably Apple needs Facebook users to buy their phones.

The best speedskating teams acknowledge this conundrum, train as hard as possible together and on race day let the chips fall where they might. Sometimes in sport you just have to let fate play out…