Commentary

How I'd fix the economy

What office life needs now is a little more sports. That'll change everything

Updated: July 13, 2009, 11:30 AM ET
By Rick Reilly | ESPN The Magazine

Getty ImagesThis guy would be far more motivated under Rick Reilly's plan.

This column appears in the July 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

This Great Recession is on us like a golf club head cover. Every direction you look, blackness. I meet people every day who are working twice as hard for half the pay in offices that would make a morgue look cheery.

It's tough. It's brutal. It's depressing. And that's just the break-room fridge.

But I have a solution. What offices need right now is a little bit of sports.

If there's one thing games teach us, it's to buck up, dig in and hold on. That's what we cherish about sports -- the faith that no matter how bad things suck, eventually you're going to win. How else do you explain Cubs fans?

For instance, what if -- like in hockey -- the boss picked the three stars of the day? And those three people came out of their cubicles and did a little spin around the main lobby carpet while the other employees banged their staplers on their desks in approval?

What if the office had chest bumps and shaving-cream pies and everybody slapping the Work Like a Champion Today sign over the door on the way in?

And office chatter!

C'monKidHeyKidOnlyTakesOneBuyerKidOnlyTakesOneYouAndHerKidRightOnThe DottedLineKid.

What if every accounting office came with cheerleaders?

Two, Four, Six, Eight!

What Do We Depreciate?

Corporate-Owned Vehicles!

Everything we need to know about the economic recovery we learned in sports: Back each other up, hustle for everything, and get it back one score at a time.

The office needs hotfoots and butt slaps and Gatorade showers. And a room where people can go and bust the bejesus out of a cheap toilet with a bat every once in a while, just to get it out of their system.

When a really great secretary hits 65 and has to go, why not retire her number?

Dolores Ginty, no one will ever use extension 3713 again. It's yours forever!

Like baseball, firms should have some political bigwig come and throw out the first pitch of the day.

Mrs. Finsterwald? This is Governor Bloom. How would you like to own a vacuum that could change your life?

Work needs Rings of Fame along the office walls and tailgating instead of lunchrooms. At the end of the day, everybody makes human tunnels for everybody else to run through. Orange slices now and again would be nice too. When the big sales drive starts, guys should grow playoff beards and women should stop shaving their legs, and everybody should start wearing their Jason Giambi lucky gold lamé thong and refuse to take it off until we're back in the black.

There's nothing better in golf than a good caddie, right? So why can't businesspeople have them?

All right, Mr. Grey, here comes the big client and his wife. Don't forget, she's been on that Oreo diet, so tell her she looks like she lost some weight. And remember, he can't hear out of his left ear, so stay right. You TOTALLY got this!

Tiger Woods wears red on Sundays for low numbers. Businesspeople need to start wearing green on Fridays for cash. And if they sign the big deal, let's watch it again on instant replay!

Look, we Americans are as resilient as Slinkys. As a country, we are too young and bouncy to let this get us down much longer. This is a time to turn our hats around backward and bring out our rally monkeys and start rattling the window shades. Don't make fewer business trips, make more! Don't buy less stock, buy more! Every office needs an organist playing "Charge!"

Think like athletes. Write "No Prisoners" on the soles of your shoes. Ask each other for autographs. And at the end of the month, put together a "One Shining Moment" highlight reel. Then, somebody, pull out the softball cooler of beer.

Pretty soon, as sure as cops love doughnuts, this will turn around. And we'll be using sports stuff we never thought we'd use.

Hey, nobody talk to Achmed. He's made a sale on every call so far today! Don't jinx it!

When everybody gets their job back and unemployment in this country is once again under 5%, here's what I'll do: If you see me in a bar, I'll buy you a jigger of your favorite adult beverage. But you get only 24 seconds once I walk in.

After all, I've got a shot clock.

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Rick Reilly is the host of the new series "Homecoming with Rick Reilly" that debuts Thursday, July 9 at 7pm on ESPN.

Rick Reilly | email

Columnist, ESPN.com