Is Seth Godin Picking on Scrabble Players?

Here was Seth Godin’s post from the other day:

People who are very good at Scrabble are not more kind, better judges of character, more facile with soft skills, better long-term thinkers, more fun at parties or much of anything except good at Scrabble. (emphasis added)

Of course we don’t decide on who should have positions of authority or who should be trusted based on their skill at Scrabble. It’s simply a game.

Perhaps the same could be true for beauty, celebrity or the acquisition of wealth.

When I first read his post, I think I knew the point Seth was trying to make.

Just because someone is good at one thing, or has a particular skill, does not mean we can assume the person is good at everything.

Similarly, just because someone is wealthy does not necessarily mean they are better judges of character or more fun at parties.

And I would agree with such a belief.

However, when I reread the first sentence, focusing on the parts that I bolded, it seems to suggest that people who are very good at Scrabble are not much of anything except good at Scrabble.

I am sure there are some Scrabble players who have more going on in their life than just Scrabble, and would not want to be considered “not much of anything”.

For example, Jesse Day is one of the best Scrabble players in the U.S., and he also has a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Berkeley and speaks six languages.

David Eldar won the World Scrabble Championship in 2017. He is also a professional poker player,  and has earned over $1,800,000, as of April 2018.

And one more for good measure.

Adam Logan is a research mathematician and a top Canadian Scrabble player, having won the World Scrabble Championship in 2005.

I am sure the bolded parts of the sentence above are not what Seth meant to imply, but it sure reads that way to me.

Of course, it’s possible, and probable, that I am the one interpreting the sentence incorrectly. After all, Seth has written several best-selling books and The Icarus Deception is one of my all-time favorite books. He is also a world-renowned marketing guru and his daily blog is a must-read for me.

But if not, maybe Seth should find a Scrabble player who is also an editor to check his work.

P.S. I noticed after my first draft of this post that I had misspelled Scrabble every time as Scrapple. I guess you can’t take the Philly out of the boy…

*image from Amazon


93 thoughts on “Is Seth Godin Picking on Scrabble Players?

  1. I would add to Seth’s philosophy, that just because you’re a good writer of best-selling books, it doesn’t mean you’re more kind, a better judge of character, more fun at parties, etc.

    I would also add that I’d rather eat scrapple (whatever the hell it is), than play Scrabble. I hate that game.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Some of the words I know can’t be found in dictionaries. This tends to screw me up while playing Scrabble. Also, what’s this Triple-Letter-Score, Double-Word-Score bullshit about? That has nothing to do with vocabulary skills.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, there are some strange ones. Like “jo,” which apparently is a romantic partner. Who ever says, “I just went out on a date with my jo”? But put that little humdinger on a Triple Word Score and you get 27 points.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! But owning a unicorn I think makes you more kind hearted, right?

      Like Jim said you don’t want to know what Scrapple is. You will no longer think that coffee is so bad when you compare the 2. BUT it is very good! Especially with King’s Syrup on it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oooh no you cannot compare Scrapple to Spam! Scrapple is very good, just not exactly good for you!

        The King’s syrup is America’s finest syrup. Thats what it said on Amazon. LOL! I guess I grew up with the finest syrup, so does that make me kinder and sweeter now? 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Scrapple sounds like something I got into a few times when I was a kid with a chip on my shoulder.

        Yes, I agree that King’s syrup has made you kinder and sweeter. Kinder schtupid, and sickly sweet.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep. But if it’s any consolation, when you’re 65 you’re considered to be young-old. You’re not plain, regular old until you turn 75. And at 85 you become old-old. So when you turn 65, in a sense you’ll be young again.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post made me think about celebrities endorsing a product and how this affects people’s buying habits. I don’t think a celebrity’s opinion is any more valid than the averge person.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Pete, and I think that was the point Seth was trying to make.

      I can’t remember if I’ve told this story before because it’s kind of embarrassing but it gets to the issue at hand.

      We bought a Buick Rendezvous over 15 years ago – one of the things that attracted me to the car was that Tiger Woods did a commercial for it.

      I guess I am a marketer’s dream come true…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. i have a friend, my undergrad creative writing professor, who is a competitive scrabble player, he plays all over, and says his strongest challenger is an ann arbor cabbie, who also plays competitively. my same friend spends his days still being a prof at the university. as well as being a successful playwright. he’s very creative, well-read, and an excellent writer. words are his world. this makes logical sense to me, as far as him being a good scrabble player. he
    also has had to endure me as a student, with my own stabs at poetry, and many forms of disjointed prose, and i give him bonus points for this.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. he’s an out of the box creative, we met when I went back to school as an older student, and we were contemporaries. we’ve been friends for many years, in spite of my writing style in his class, he follows my blog, and I go to his plays

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to play Scrabble a lot. My family (hub and children) kept a record of every game we played for years – total scores, 7-letter words, winner, by how many points etc. Then we encountered the Words with Friends app. No more Scrabble. 🙂 I’m not sure that my kindness, ability to judge character etc has slipped as a result, but then, maybe I’m not the one to judge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sounds like it puts my obsession with WordPress stats to shame 🙂

      Do you still play Words with Friends?

      And I would doubt that your personal traits have been affected by your love of Scrabble 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I still play Words with Friends. Not many games though. Only against family and friends. Hub always has his games maxing out. It’s his obsessional hobby. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Maybe if Seth was a better Scrabble player, he would have noticed how that sentence reads. I agree with you that the structure of the sentence insinuates that people good a Scrabble are not good at anything else, and that is so easily disproven. And though it appears to be trying to make a larger point, the whole thing sounds like he was sorely beaten at a game of Scrabble recently and it still stings. And your inadvertent misspelling of Scrabble simply means that you need a dose of the fine PA Dutch delicacy as soon as possible. Maybe a special breakfast, for a special man, on a special day! Happy birthday, Q!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you may be on to something with Seth and Scrabble… you never know what motivates people to write a certain post.

      And I don’t think I’ve tasted Scrapple in 40 years; I did like it though. But I’m guessing there’s not a high priority on anyone’s part to try and make a vegan version of Scrapple 🙂

      And thanks for the birthday wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Seth Godin? Never heard of him. But I don’t think I’d like him: he sounds like the kind of person who would kick the Scrapple board off the table and storm off in a huff if he was losing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good post and yes, I agree, a special talent for something doesn’t say anything about your character traits!

    So can you spell Happy Birthday with your scrabble tiles? Am I right in seeimg that its your bday today? Have a wonderful day!! Go buy yourself a beach house! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Maybe Seth has been looked down on by Scrabble players recently? I did read his post to try and get context why he made the statement.

    Me personally I enjoy Scrabble, though I’m just average at it, my wife is much better at it and I can attest she is more possessing of the attributes Seth mentions than I, 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. On the whole, as individuals we are all average. That’s what I think, and maybe Godin is saying something like that. In other words when considering all individual traits and characteristics, strengths and weaknesses average out for individuals the way they average out over large groups.

    The notion of American exceptionalism, as it pertains to an assumed superiority in the character of the nation, is a dangerous myth. In comparison to other large groups, Americans are just average. We get into big trouble when we think we aren’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree; it’s just that some people are gifted in things that society may value more, for better or worse. And when I was younger, I always thought the U.S. was the best at everything. I’ve learned that’s not quite the case…


  10. P.S. Having family who lived in Philly and South Jersey, I’m very familiar with scrapple. I like it a lot but haven’t had it in years. Grocery stores in Indiana carried it when I was a kid. I haven’t seen it in a long time in stores where I’ve lived around the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, I never knew all of the achievements one may garner from playing Scrabble. Perhaps it is time to play a game with my better half (and not be too competitive). As for Scrapple, been there myself when I visited a little coffee and breakfast cafe in the little town of Trappe, Maryland (where actor Robert Mitchum lived a few years in the 60s).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like getting a copy of the game as well after reading about it! I think Scrapple is mainly a mid-Atlantic thing; I’m not sure if it as popular as maybe it once was…


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