The Business World’s 9 Favorite Sports Metaphors

Want to talk like you’re in business? Start watching sports.

1. “Goal Posts”

Brian Bahr / Getty Images

“So I think while our competitors are trying to catch up with their first generation to where we were, we’re off shifting the goal post down the field even farther every time.”
—Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, June 5, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference

“We’re committed to do that. Now, it’s a benchmark, we’re not going to do this in an irresponsible way. We’ve got all sorts of benchmarks and goal posts that we have to meet.”
—Joel Klein, CEO of Amplify, June 5, News Corp Investor Day

2. “Singles and Doubles”

“And again, we think there’s more opportunity on the commercial real estate side, and we’re going to play kind of in our sweet spot in how we do business, which we’re going to hit a lot more singles and doubles than kind of looking at the distress pieces, if you will.”
—Nelson Chai, President of CIT Group, February 12, Credit Suisse Financial Services Forum

“While not everything can be a Monster High, we’re confident that hitting singles and doubles without new franchises will drive strong returns.”
—Kevin Farr, Chief Financial Officer of Mattel, July 17, Second Quarter Earnings Call

3. “Early Innings”

University of Nebraska Press

“This is the very early innings of this playout with digital wallets right now.”
—Don Schulman, President of the American Express Enterprise Growth Group, February 6, Financial Community Meeting

“And so there has been a sea change here, and — but I think we’re in the early innings of this game. The tablet market last year, the projections I’ve seen would indicate there was about 120 million tablets sold last year. The projection is that this is going to triple in four years.”
—Tim Cook, Apple CEO, Feb 12, Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference

4. “Hail Mary”

Sam Riche / MCT

“What I call Hail Mary medicine for practice on those that 10% or 20% of patients where we can’t find a good treatment for them.”
—Ronald Andrews, President of Medical Sciences, Life Technologies Corp, March 13, Barclays Capital Global Healthcare Conference

“In early 2000, we moved into the middle Bakken member, slotted liners, pre-perforated pipe, kind of a Hail Mary frack.”
—Lynn Peterson, CEO Kodiak Oil & Gas, May 22, UBS Global Oil and Gas Conference

5. “Game of Inches”

CBS / Via tumblr.com

“So we’re now challenging them to figure out a way to get to 3%. It’s a game of inches right now.”
—George Gleason, Bank of the Ozarks CEO, July 12, Second Quarter Earnings Call

“It’s really actually a game of inches in many cases in terms of iterating the product and learning and then trying something else.”
—Matthew Roberts, OpenTable CEO, February 7, Second Quarter Earnings Call

6. “Layup”

“It’s good guidance and it’s not — nothing is to use a basketball term, nothing is a layup, but they’ve got tremendous opportunity.”
—Joseph Tucci, EMC CEO, May 31, Sanford Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference

“It is not a layup from the standpoint of earning a reasonable return out of the investment necessary to convert to natural gas.”
—Lance Fritz, Vice President of Operations Union Pacific, July 18, Second Quarter Earnings Call

7. “Slam Dunk”

“You revised up your cash flow guidance and it pretty much looks like — I mean it’s going to be a slam dunk easy to do a lot better than last year.”
—Brian Jacoby, Goldman Sachs analyst, July 24, Ford Second Quarter Earnings Call

“We still do need a fairly strong production response, probably late third or fourth quarter, really, in order to be able to book it. But obviously the sooner the better, so that maybe increases the probability. I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk yet.”
—Phil Rykhoek, CEO Denbury Resources, August 6, Second Quarter Earnings Call

8. “Knocking It Out of the Park”

“I think the management team is fully aware of these issues, and we keep knocking them out of the park to the extent that we can.”
—Sergio Marchionne, CEO Chrysler Group, July 12, Second Quarter Earnings Call

“We did not feel like we knocked it out of the park or anything from a growth point of view.”
—Lanham Napier, CEO Rackspace, May 8, First Quarter Earnings Call

9. “Low Center of Gravity”

David Goldman / AP

“What we call lowering our center of gravity in those markets so that we’re going to be in position to capture that economic activity when it leaves the big global banks because we’ve had the relationships.”
—James Smith, CEO Thomson Reuters, July 26, TD Telecom and Media Conference

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