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''It's part of the business,'' he said. ''I understand there's a bottom line to everything we do. We didn't win a lot of football games the past few years.''

I know "bottom line" as the most important thing, but seems l

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    I'm guessing that although you know that "bottom line" is "the most important thing", you're not aware of why we use that expression. It's a reference to the last line of a financial summary - showing net profit/loss after taking all income and outgoings into account. Hence in your context it refers to the "financial imperative" (a football club must make enough money to pay it's way, or it simply won't survive). May 11 '20 at 12:17
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I'll explain the two possible explainations that came to my mind when I've read your question.

  1. Bottom line meaning "the end result, something we are trying to achieve"
  2. Bottom line meaning that we need to take financial factors into consideration

Since the speaker continued saying "We didn't win a lot of football games the past few years", there's an emphasis on not achieving some goals, likely financial ones. So I'm drawn to the second option. Though, I'd like to have a better vision on the whole situation of the speaker.

EDIT:

Mhh... It's troubling me. It could very well be the first case with the following meaning:

"We train, we come up with tactics, we prepare as much as we can, but in this business there's a bottom line, we either win or lose, and we didn't win a lot recently".

So, I'd need more context.

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bottom-line

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  • nytimes.com/2002/11/27/sports/…
    – Alex He
    May 12 '20 at 4:29
  • Yeah, I got it, I think it could be the first case: Tellier will remain at Columbia as an assistant athletic director. ''It's part of the business,'' he said. ''I understand there's a bottom line to everything we do. We didn't win a lot of football games in the past few years.'' This season was particularly frustrating as the Lions lost three conference games at home by 3 points or less.
    – Alex He
    May 12 '20 at 4:30
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It's a metaphor from accounting. There are a lot of factors in a business's profitability, but the end result is tallying assets vs liabilities on a balance sheet, and putting the result in a line at the bottom that will tell you what it is.

Likewise there are a lot of factors in the sport, but the end result telling whether you are good is your team winning.

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    Your accounting explanation is in serious error. A balance sheet does not measure profitability, which represents a net flow for a period. It measures the constituent elements of a state at an instant. And in the US at least, it almost never is never summarized as a "bottom line." I have downvoted your answer but will reverse it if you correct the errors in it. May 11 '20 at 13:11

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