Definition of Game of Inches

What does the term "game of inches" mean? Where did the term "game of inches" come from?

You've likely heard the phrase "life is a game of inches" before.

The King explains the meaning of the term Game of Inches when it comes to sports and regular day-to-day life.It refers to the reality that life can change dramatically based on things that are determined by the narrowest of margins. In terms of the football analogy, it also means that the people who are willing to fight for those extra couple of inches will usually come out ahead.

For instance - let's say that you apply to go to an Ivy league school.

Let's say that the top 1,000 students get in, and you were the next on the list to be accepted.

Life is a "game of inches" in this case, as the circumstances of your life changed based on the narrowest of margins (not getting into Harvard).

Now, in keeping with the football analogy - let's say that you really want to go to Harvard, so you go to a local college, work extremely hard for a year, post excellent grades and then transfer to Harvard later.

This would be going the "extra couple of inches" to get what you want.


The term originated from legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi and his famous "A Game of Inches" speech.

In that speech, Lombardi said that "football is a game of inches and inches make the champion".

In modern times, Al Pacino re-introduced the phrase back into the general consciousness with his famous speech in the movie "Any Given Sunday".