Posted in Athletes, Coaching, Sport, Uncategorized

Coaching in 2016 and beyond

May 29 – Elite athletes should have access to the best technical expertise available.  

“Coaching is the universal language of change and learning.”

Coaching1

One of the missions of any sporting organisation must be to prepare its coaches to be the best. And while it is doing that ensure that the sport also has access to its best athletes. That relationship, if well organised is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship for the specific sport to maximise its economic activity.

The history of coaching does not meet the traditional skill set where the roles of purpose, knowledge base, organisation and ethics are clearly outlined; however, over the last two decades there has been an increase in who we classify as “elite coaches” – those who are considered as being the best; transforms the best and gets the best out of any category of athlete.

Sport more than ever now plays a significant role in income generation and a well-coached   fully focused winning team provide entertainment to spectators, communities, sponsors, athletes, coaches and administrators.

Coaching has therefore moved from the largely volunteer role it had been to the more sophisticated and competitive profession where institutions and organisations go after the “best” coaches for a multiplicity of reasons.

Coaching2

The National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL) and the English Premier League (EPL) are three organisations which move around coaches based on a projected number of wins within a season or a contract term. These organisations essentially work with the saying “you are as good as your last win.”

I reflect on the roles of Don Nelson and Phil Jackson two NBA coaches were both successful as players and coaches. Both have philosophies they have used to their advantage. Nelson masterminded the concept of a power forward, while Jackson perfected the triangle offense; but also his use of Zen techniques to assemble some of USA’s best basketballers while getting them to win. I look at football in the EPL and Alex Ferguson’s record speaks for itself.

Today, an elite coach is not who is simply technically strong, but instead one who designs and uses philosophies to achieve the ultimate gain of converting his/her team to win over a sustained period.

The training of coaches is available at several levels

  • Teacher-training institutions
  • Sport Colleges and Universities
  • Olympic Federations through the IOC’s programmes
    • Other sporting Federations have accredited levels of courses which are applicable for its different categories of athletes
  • Other supplementary short courses are available on several platforms

Standards have been and continue to be set and more and more sporting franchises and organisations go after the most qualified. The coaching situation has evolved.

The profession, coaching, has to first of all look at reinforcing education, deployment of those resources while regulating rules to engage the wide variety of skills on offer, but the ultimate is to get a winning formula of winning team and coach.

Coaching along age-group teams moves from getting players/athletes to enjoy their game (children) and to compete fiercely for titles and in recent years attract a substantial salary package. Sport also influences social and cultural boundaries and the value of those factors, while immeasurable, have an important place in the sporting model of any organisation.

The European Coaching Council in 2007 proposed a paper which suggested that coaching roles and qualifications be separated, but cited the need to map what is considered competencies for specific coaching roles. The coaching role is defined whether you are one of the following:

  • Apprentice coach
  • Coach
  • Senior Coach
  • Master Coach

Some regions including USA, Europe, Australia have established professional associations for coaching ensuring the profession is fiercely protected and where only members of the profession can practice. Some sporting federations have a similar model where coaches have to achieve a certain level of qualification and accreditation to coach at a particular level.

In the coaching environment these days there is a variety of qualifications, accreditation and opportunities for coaches at every level to gain the requisite training and exposure to make it to the top. These days you are either a pre-coach, volunteer coach or a professional coach. Coaching like so many other professions, have become competitive and attracts good pay packages. It is therefore important that organisations prepare its technical teams to get the best out of its athletes/players.

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Posted in Leadership, Management, Sport

ATHLETES, MONEY AND SPORT

February 22 – The United States of America has over 320 million people (census of 2014). The sport business flourishes in that country and will boast of their world series in basketball, ice hockey, baseball and the Super Bowl.

What we have seen though is, the massive support the sport business there attracts through broadcast rights. The impact of having that massive number is the reason why there is an almost 5-billion-dollar media rights for the National Football League (NFL) that is on TV for just over five months. There are 32 teams in that league.

Broadcast Rights

In the National Basketball Association (NBA) there are 30 teams. In December 2010, Forbes, the established business publication carried comments regarding the ‘watering down of the NBA’. Lebron James was quoted as saying there were too many teams and it is why the NBA has become the league of the rich and poor. Now that is just close to 600 players on the collective rosters.

The Forbes article also pointed out that while Miami, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles teams were set to make money, some teams from Atlanta, Indiana, Memphis and New Orleans could lose. What came out of that was players at the time got slightly higher than half of the revenue and to make the NBA work and satisfy the game and the league, those earnings from revenues were lowered. So rather than reducing the number of teams, the players made a sacrifice. The league is still on and fans are still enjoying the game. More players too are getting endorsements.

Now let’s look at the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the 62-year old organisation which in the last 20 years has had intermittently, due to disputes, four major interruptions in the regular season. While no games were lost in the 1995 season because of the July 1 to September 12 timeline, the league was still affected. In 1998, the 29 team franchises at the time, played only 50 games which equalled a loss of 200 days. There were interruptions again in 2011 and 2013. The point is, there can be interruptions, but the games go on.

PlayersUnion

And oh, the NBPA only requires 260 minimum players to sign up, up to 2013, they had 300. That translates to – not all players are members. What is even more interesting, one of the richest players in the league today, Lebron James, is a vice president of the players’ association. My understanding of that is, while he is “set” – he wants the best for the sport and those around him.

Just some information on the top paid players in the NBA the last three seasons – Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Lebron James, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh.

There are a bunch of players who have taken lower salaries and have a tremendous list of endorsements so their overall value is always being maximised. That is a model than can work and should work.

The point is – we here in the Caribbean have to figure a way to negotiate salaries, incentives, and emoluments whether you are retained (on a payroll) or you are a free agent. That process should not take away from the fact that in spite of how you feel about your parent-body, the game comes first. The focus should be on preparing in order to win. Endorsements will come. And in this competitive sporting arena, the Caribbean athletes are no longer competing in this region, but instead the walls of the elite athletes’ world are closing in.

freeagent

Get in the game and make sure you do what is required to stay in the game.

Posted in Advertising, Caribbean, Leadership, Sport

The Change for West Indies Cricket

KINGSTON, December 30 – When Whycliffe ‘Dave’ Cameron realised he had to mount a campaign to former President, Julian Hunte, he assembled a team which created a number of tools to see his way into his presidency in 2013. Cameron who had previously served on the Board of Directors of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) since 2002, was criticized in some circles for being a part of the slip of the fortunes. Cameron has expressed his views on that publicly and now in the seat, intends as he has been to lead the WICB and the Cricket into building and framing an industry.

The licensed financial broker has been around the sport for some three decades serving at several levels as a player, administrator, planner and marketer. He has academic training at the graduate and post graduate levels in Hotel Management and Management Information Systems respectively.

I have offered to present some background before I delve into the points of CHANGE.

WIPA and WICB 

When Cameron took office he mentioned his intentions to foster a more harmonious relationship with the players association as it would help in his bid to realign the Human Resource Management status of the players fraternity. His ideas would include effective leadership, inter-personal relationships and better communication generally. This resulted for example in a WICB/WIPA – annual awards, held jointly for the first time in July 2013 in T&T; that event was jointly hosted again in Kingston in July this year. In October, an elite team building tour was held and was against done in collaboration with WIPA and WICB. That team tour focused on boardroom and off the pitch activities aimed at building better rapport with management and players.

Since those events other initiatives have been pursued and the four-day professional tournament now on is another result of collaboration with WIPA and WICB. In September 2014, an ESPN Cric Info headline “WICB WIPA sign new agreement – ending years of bitter dispute… http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/story/782193.html

In a Gleaner article in October – WICB endorses WIPA http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20141016/sports/sports4.html

Dave Cameron

Close to us in the United States, the player associations while clear about their roles are created with the aim to foster relationships to the benefit of the game, and except for the fourth lockout in the NBA’s history in 2011, the player association works with the NBA on common goals. That lockout incidentally was about salaries – the structure and the division of revenue – sounds familiar? With a canceled pre-season, the league games were reduced from 82 to 66. The losses were in TV broadcast rights and fans were cheated. is that equivalent to abandoning a tour? You answer.

What was evident though is the negotiation which included the players association and the parent body which ended in the game being the winner. So the question here is, when and how can West Indies Cricket win? I should also point out that at no time a politician got involved. David Stern, the NBA Commissioner at the time along with Derek Fisher and his team from the players association handled the matter. How then can the cricket fraternity manage its affairs in a way that cricket will win.

The NBA’s rules regarding players though makes it more reasonable for players and their affairs to be managed and I am asserting that maybe the Caribbean outfit should adopt a few rules of which some commercial-minded ones be included. For example, if you have intention to play for the elite team, you must at least have one year at a college/university. Since 2006, the NBA no longer drafts high school students – they must go to College. That rule should apply in cricket and maybe some of the quality issues we have with commitment, concentration, dedication and even general understanding of the game would create an environment which players are better able to adopt to a professional outfit as their peers in other sporting disciplines – specifically for team sports.

CAMERON’S WISHES 

Cameron aimed to lead a team that managed over improved development of cricket talent, improved revenue growth, regional unity and pride. He continues on the path to lead a team to manage, monitor and reinforce ways to solidify partnerships. While the Indian Tour walk off throws a spoke in the wheel of the plans of the current administration – the fall out presents an opportunity to fine tune and implement rules and regulations for a more sophisticated yet efficient management and administration.

Maybe it is time to clean house and chart a new way forward. The management of cricket has largely been lead in years gone by with a high emotional quotient and that cannot be the basis by which a commercial model is built. Players must be selected based on results which are facilitated through regional, collegiate and high school competitions. Like any other sporting model there is a basis on which players grow and develop into their game. I would suggest that by the time they reach the selection for the elite team stage, they would have completed up to 2,000 hours of play – which represents 20 per cent of the mastery status to be achieved to be considered an expert. Malcolm Gladwell suggests in his book the Outliers that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. He went to say that “The elite don’t just work harder than everybody else. At some point the elites fall in love with practice to the point where they want to do little else.”

Cameron and Nathan

How can we match those standards with our athletes in the region, in this case the cricketers? I would add to that if you insist on playing at the elite level, CLR James’ Beyond the Boundary should be a required reading. The athletes we compete with internationally are all satisfying those standards and if we are to maintain or surpass, we must compete on and off the field.

STRUCTURE

The current management structure includes a Secretariat based in Antigua monitored and evaluated by an elected body of 12 persons from the six territories with a CARICOM recommended person and two from the private sector. That body every quarter and when required, meet to decide on the matters which may arise and look at ways to improve the management. That structure can do with an overall in a few years after the Board has come over the India walk-out hump and look at a model where a small but efficient team is paid to handle the affairs, while generating enough income to employ others in the region to operate a similar outfit in each territory.

Cricket, due to the population in India and Pakistan, is the second most watched sport on TV in the world and broadcast rights form an important part of that income. We must be creative going forward.

Cameron may be up for a challenge in March 2015 and if so, it is time to think on how his leadership has been in the last two years. His focus then was on participation, human resource management and operations, accountability and responsibility. I doubt that will change.

Moving the cricket forward on all planes is priority…

WI team

Posted in Uncategorized

A better TV product can drive bigger pay day for track and field athletes

JANUARY 2:  With the World Cup Football scheduled for this summer, the television viewership for football will increase even more. It is already number one, boasting up to 3.5 billion viewers.

The draw for the ‘greatest show on earth’ sets up for a highly competitive series of games. Pundits have begun to suggest that groups D and G are the ‘groups of death’ and so we anticipate chart stopping performances not just from those groups, but all round. See the draw in the groups http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/index.html

So far though, the sport of football has taken away significant portions of funds available for sports for this year, as the exposure to any product/service from June 12 to July 13 is key to any global brand. With the Commonwealth Games scheduled for Glasgow, Scotland from July 23 to August 12…the question is, how will those Games fare in terms of ability to attract big bucks for TV rights?

The USA college system is projected to seeing $2.3 billion of funds flowing up to 2020 and while they are trying to determine whether to adopt a play-for-pay model, the other sports could very well be affected by its ability to raise funds. Bear in mind, the collegiate system is not a professional league.

Let’s look at the NBA, where in 2007, ABC/ESPN and TNT paid a combined 7.4 billion to the NBA to air games on television. That revenue though is divided into 30 and those are the amount of teams in that league. Can that even be possible in track and field?

The NBA has made their game a made-for-tv-event and so its revenues are directly related to television audiences worldwide, even though the franchises separately, have created a variety of experiences in the respective cities. Think what happens in the major cities if you are a Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma, or a New York fan.

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Track and Field has to create a package which is more television friendly outside of the Olympic and World Championship experience to sustain and improve the value of the sport in between those times and so sets itself up to be able to offer more to its athletes. The salaries for track and field athletes are not comparable to their colleagues in other disciplines.

The effort by Doyle Management http://doylemanagement.com/7-reasons-to-be-excited-about-the-american-track-league-2014/ to bring the ‘American Dream” template to track and field, may just be the game-changer. The plan to launch this year http://doylemanagement.com/american-track-league-to-launch-in-2014/ will see at least five events with on and off the field activities starting in May aimed at reaching the super fan, the TV fan and curious onlookers.

The USA market has been deemed the marketing capital of the world, and has been known to influence television viewership in several sporting disciplines…maybe just maybe it is time for track and field. The IAAF could very well develop a new marketing programme which could attract way more athletes, increase revenue and improve its image by adding the element of a product friendlier for television.  The IAAF could also target up to ten venues across the globe which can be re-defined for a greater fan experience – in and around Europe, but with some focus on the Americas, north and south.

The sport industry’s value is not decreasing, but is more available to the best packaged product. The track and field athletes are on the same magazine covers, same night time television shows, have been known to tilt television ratings, but earn significantly less…that should change up to 2016 (next Summer Olympic Games) and beyond.

Over to you IAAF!