For the last month and a half, the media has likened the Sprint/Clearwire soap opera to a variety of games – baseball, global thermonuclear war, and of course chess. Now I’m a chess player, and these guys are not playing chess.
In chess, there is only black and white, win or lose. There is no alternative to sign a contract under which both hope to prosper, no possibility of mutually assured destruction. There is only strategy, logic, calculation, timing, attack, and defense – and absolutely no whining.
Dan Jones over on LightReading suggests that what Clearwire is doing is playing a nice friendly game of chicken. That’s closer I think, but I have a better analogy in mind.
There is a ‘sport’ in which most of the action involves people yelling unnecessary threats at each other into microphones in separate locations — threats only the gullible believe and which would probably result in legal action if actually carried out. These threats are then overplayed by eager media only interested in keeping the controversy alive until the big event, whose result was determined in a back room somewhere long in advance. And of course, each opponent is economically tied at the hip to the other both before and after the match.
Yes, that’s the game Sprint and Clearwire have been playing for us: professional wrestling. And like professional wrestling, it can only end one of two ways: with a highly scripted, outrageously climactic three minute match in which both sides cheat obviously while the ref is distracted and the champion wins until the inevitable rematch, or with a highly scripted, outrageously climactic three minute match in which both sides cheat obviously while the ref is distracted and the challenger wins until the inevitable rematch.
Clearwire will make the payment, and Sprint will grudgingly fund them just enough to set up that rematch in a few months. All else is theatre. Unless of course it’s ratings week.
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