Arbitrary Rules


When Tiger’s on the tee box, why do the fans have to be quiet as a church mouse?

The ball’s just sitting there. It’s not rolling, flying, spinning, or dribbling. Why do we have to be so quiet? Who came up with this crazy rule?

One peep outta yah, and your 86’d for the rest of the day. GOLF-OPEN/

Golf is funny like that. It is high on the “snob meter” and low on the AFO scale. (Allowable Fan Obnoxicity).

But in recent years the tradition has changed a little; half second after driving the ball you can now scream like Sam Kinison.


So you can change the rules.

Wait a minute. What rules? There aren’t any written rules for golf spectators. I never got the memo and I’ve been to several golf tournaments in my day.

Where does it say you can’t speak when you attend a golf tournament? You don’t take an oath or anything when you buy a ticket. But sure as Tiger on Sunday, the Gestapo will throw you out like a month-old banana if you don’t “go with the flow.”

Tennis is pretty low on the AFO Scale as well. You can’t talk during the serve. You are allowed a few “Ohs and Ahs” during the volley as long as it is “certified worthy” of such admiration. How to determine which specific volleys qualify for this esteemed level of praise is still a mystery to all.

Basketball has a much higher AFO. Screaming and frantic wavering of long colored balloons is a must. The crowd’s main goal is to totally distract the opponent’s free throw shooter.

• Obnoxicity is highly encouragedPlastic_Snakes_3
• Sportsman-like conduct is seriously frowned upon.

Again, I have never seen any written rules for fan behavior in golf, tennis or basketball. But there certainly seems to be arbitrary unwritten rules.



Baseball? Off the freaking charts on the AFO Scale.








We are taught in little league to make as much noise as possible as the pitcher rockets a curve ball straight at the little tike’s head.


Where did all these arbitrary rules come from?

How many do you have in your business? Rules that don’t make sense; either written or unwritten.

I encourage my students to practice Duct Tape Sessions. This is where management asks the incredibly powerful question:

“What rules are stopping you from doing your job better?”

The management then wears Duct Tape over their mouth and does nothing but listen.

Few soles have the kahunas to actually try this, but those that do will be amazed.

Do you have the guts to ask such a revealing question and the willpower to shut up and listen?

Mark L. Fox

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Mark L. Fox is a leading authority on teaching practical creative thinking techniques for business. Mark was the youngest Chief Engineer ever on the Space Shuttle program at the age of 31. He received NASA’s highest recognition of “Launch Honoree” at the age of 23. Mark has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering with an MBA. Having held top management positions in Rocket Science, Aircraft Hydraulics, Engineering Services, Customer Service, Software, and e-Business, Mark has an extremely diversified background.

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