Wednesday, February 21st, 2018

The arrogance of organizations

December 3, 2011 by  
Filed under Coaching, Make Up

Let me put my cards right out on the table.  I am not a football fan.  Especially not the NFL.  I could very easily go an entire football season and not watch a single game.  Even the Super Bowl.  I will admit that I have tried but usually I end up having to turn it off within five minutes to hold onto my sanity.  End zone dances, pounding the chest on a 2 yard gain, showboating when your team is down 21 points, etc., etc., etc. drives me nuts.  I can’t watch it.  I blame the organizations more than the players.  They allow it to occur because they need to promote the “show” in order to sell tickets.  Unfortunately it works.  But at what cost?  

This is one of the reasons why I love baseball.  With the exception of golf, baseball is the only major professional sport that still promotes a sense of integrity in that the game is bigger than the individual players.  This is obviously not the case in football.   

In Philadelphia over the past couple days, much has been talked about with regards to wide receiver Desean Jackson and his lack of effort during the Eagles loss against the Seahawks.  If you didn’t know, he is upset he is not being paid enough and is basically just going through the motions out on the field.  The Eagles organization is collectively pulling their hair out.  I would ask them a few simple questions.  Why?  Why are you so distraught over all of this?  Did you really not think that this was bound to happen?
When Desean Jackson was in college (Univ. of California), he apparently showed numerous signs of trouble.  As soon as he put on an Eagles uniform, there were more troubling signs.  I bet if you went back to his Pee-Wee football career through high school, you’d find the same behavior.  As I said earlier, I don’t blame Desean.  He is who he is and he is not going to change.
I titled this post “The arrogance of organizations” for a reason and the explanation of it is instructive for coaches at any level.  Even baseball coaches. 
Many of the people who make the major decisions within sports organizations, in this case the head coach, General Manager, team owner, etc, make the same mistake over and over.  Here is what they seem to continually tell themselves:
  • OUR organization is different and WE will get him to play hard.
  • OUR coaching style is better and therefore WE will be able to connect with this player.
  • OUR system is structured so that this player will fit well into OUR system.
  • OUR coaches are so good at handling players that they will get this guy to change.
  • WE will shower him with attention and THEN he will become a great team player.

These organizations are lying to themselves and, by now, should know better.  But they are so consumed with winning and making money that they ignore the other “costs” associated with having this type of player on their team.  Unfortunately, the Eagles are now forced to deal with these costs.
Hopefully coaches are paying attention to the moral to the story:
When you put problem players on your team, to some degree, it will                          always come back to bite you and the program. 
It could cost you wins if the kid dogs it or just up and quits one day.  It could hurt team unity, cohesion, and/or chemistry in numerous ways.  Even if you win with these kinds of players, it often causes outsiders to lose respect for you and your program because of the quality of players (or lack of) to which you choose to give uniforms.  Even when the player moves on, the label slapped onto you and your program can last a very long time.
I’m all about giving young people an opportunity to mature.  Sports is a great way to hasten that maturity.  But often you will find that the character of the player coming into your program is the same character that represents your program and then ultimately leaves your program.  It’s not always easy for a head coach to make roster decisions with these types of players.  It basically comes down to what the priorities of the program are.  
Whatever direction a coach decides to go in is up to him.  If you are a coach and need to make such a decision, just make sure arrogance is not guiding that decision. 

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