Old-school sports executives like to sell the idea that running a team comes with alchemy, pressures and bad breaks unlike any other business, and that us mortals could never understand. Not to mention, players are tricky. The Sports Playbook upends all that with these marvelously subversive fighting words: “Bad apples come from bad apple factories. Good apples come from good apple factories.” It’s an electric idea, and while it’s all phrased very kindly, there’s no denying the research lands in the executive suite with fingers pointed. The big message is not that every great team must have the same culture. It’s that “there must be a culture,”says Gordon, “and it must be done purposefully, at all levels.” Teams where that hasn’t happened are doing it wrong.