Professional athletics are business, BIG business. So, what is the business of sports and what does it mean? It means that decision-making is governed by profit and loss just like any other type of business. Problems occur when decisions are influenced by other levels of sports, or thinking it should look like the college version.
As we know, it is critical to know who or what you are. Clarity in that aspect is the context for any actions one might choose to take. Most decisions made regarding personnel are not personal. They are just influenced by the overall effect that the decision has on the mission of the enterprise to be profitable or not. Of course, winning helps, but longtime marketing efforts are critical as well.
It is when there seems to be a conflict that personnel decisions are seen as disrespectful to the individuals on the team. Long-time favorites have fans. However, the executives in any professional organization can’t be a fan at the expense of doing what promotes success.
An example for what I just said is when a long-time star is traded or released at the end of a long career. The organization needs to deliver what’s possible for the future of the enterprise. For instance, when all-pro players Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott and Jerry Rice left the 49ers at various times after long and productive careers.
For the most part I think those three took it personally and as a sign of disrespect for all their contributions to the 49ers organization. Being quality people, I think they eventually made peace with what happened. Just hard decisions to make. No disrespect intended.
I think college sports as an entity isn’t clear what it is intended to be. When I began coaching the primary intention was the development of the athlete, physically and socially. I don’t mean that coaches didn’t want to win. However, winning and losing are guaranteed to happen every time out. Failure to develop the individual is failure to deliver the promise of athletics.
With the advent of big-time television’s effect on everything I am not sure what college sports knows what the game is supposed to be. Failure to show athletes what works in life and the behaviors that it takes to deliver what is asked of them in life is a huge mistake. So who are we? What are we up to?
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