Sporting leadership and the new CSR of Corporate Sporting Responsibilities

August 18, 2014

Sepp BlatterSporting participants, coaches and administrators face a set of overlapping challenges which collectively could be described as Corporate Sporting Responsibilities

Take a look at these recent sporting stories.

Drug cheating in sport

Drug cheating continues to plague a range of sports since the monumental fall from grace of Lance Armstrong.

In cycling, of the nine fastest sprinters in history only two , the Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Nesta Carther, have not been found guilty of contravening the sport’s drug regulations.

Corrupt practices

Administrative bodies have been accused of various corrupt practices in the award of major global sporting events.

Qatar’s award by FIFA of the 2022 World Cup has defied rational explanations in failure to take into account the health dangers of extreme temperatures later conceded as requiring serious concerns. Corruption accusations have been backed by commercial sponsors calling for release of results of an internal investigation.

Further accusations have been levelled against FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter. A Government committee in the UK was told that the Football Association would not be ‘wasting its time bidding’ for the World Cup as long as Blatter remains in post.

The Olympic Movement has repeatedly found its idealistic vision at odds with harsh political and financial realities. The recent Winter Olympics at Sochi began with demonstrations against Russia’s recently tightened discriminatory laws. These are said to be contrary to P6, the anti-discrimination proposition in the Olympic Charter.

During the games, accusations of bias were made against a judge whose score elevated a Russian figure-skater to gold medal status.

Corporate sporting responsibilities

Coaching of young athletes has also come under serious criticism.

In researching coaching leadership, I came across an article on a website dedicated to sporting excellence. It suggested widespread coaching abuse of young athletes by bullying coaches obsessed with winning. This chimed which some of my personal observations of amateur coaches including over-zealous touch-line parents.

The article drew my attention to the broader responsibilities of sports coaches and administrators to address the issues and dilemmas outlined in the examples above. The parallels with the emergence of the Corporate Social Responsibilities movement were too tempting to resist.

This sporting life

Any efforts to rescue sport would have to deal with criticisms made by the sociologist Lasch, nearly fifty years ago. Lasch, in The Lonely Crowd, wrote a classic analysis of the development of a culture of narcissism. In a chapter on The degradation of sport he describes how the athlete was increasingly becoming an entertainer, open to being bought and sold in what he describes as in “antagonistic cooperation” to teammates.

Perhaps a movement is required, a new form of CSR, whose principles will be incorporated into sporting charters and declarations. Participants are likely to be leaders in such a movement. Athletes have already stood up in many demonstrations against perceived injustices when administrators have taken a more cautious approach.

More importantly it may, like the original CSR, find expression in the beliefs and actions of a future generation of administrators, coaches, and sports players at all levels of excellence.


Striking teachers story (but not what you might expect)

September 10, 2012

There are several stories about striking teachers in the news this week. This one is about how a little girl snapped and was videod kicking her bullying teacher in the groin

The story of the bully bullied went viral [September 2012] It was presented as taking place in a Russian class-room. A web-debate followed on whether the U-tube was simply a spoof publicity stunt of some kind.

No matter, it prompted comments recalling similar sorts of teacher bullying, with some of the bullying teachers ‘named and shamed’.

Not what you thought?

In the US a teachers’ strike seems imminent.

In the UK, strike plans are being reported by a teachers Union, [the National Union of Teachers] after a ballot of its members.

Vicarious pleasure

The U-tube hints at one way in which a story may go viral. It permits identification with the victim, and a wish that “I wish I’d done that” as a stereotyped baddy gets his [or her] comeuppance. It’s particularly strong when we can identify with a victim who fought back on behalf of all of us, showing how powerlessness can be shattered.

Note to school children

What are your doing reading this? Anyway, the post is not intended to encourage you to commit acts of violence against your school teachers, who themselves often become victims of bullying. Better just to share the video with your friends.


Leadership behind the headlines: Strictly come dancing

November 23, 2008
”]Strictly come dancing [wikipedia]

Some headlines conceal hidden leadership stories. Leaders we deserve takes a look at strictly come dancing and The John Sergeant drama

A fair proportion of Britain (or maybe England) paused from its recessionary gloom and became preoccupied this week [Nov 17-18 2008 particularly] with the televised drama of John Sergeant, a former News reporter, and participant in a hugely popular entertainment show, strictly come dancing.

This is one of a genre in which viewers vote to keep or kick-off the wannabe celebrities, who then go on to the celebrity circuit with differing degrees of success. The show has a panel of judges, and is hosted by Bruce Forsyth, a doyen of British television light entertainment, still high-kicking his way around the set. The contestants deliver their various dances with professional partners, who are in a way the jockeys, putting the nags through their paces. The judges are the pantomime baddies, whose interventions are greeted with boos and hisses from the audience.

The series has been growing in popularity, as the programmers worked out the best scripts to engage the audience. The judges became increasingly aggressive; the format more ritualised and more popular.

I have no clear memory of earlier shows, but this series seems to have triggered a particular response.

The more the baddies tried to dish Sergeant, the louder the boos. And the more the public mobilised votes to see their favourite (Boots, Cinderella, Goldilocks, Peter Pan …) survive against their dastardly plans of the Ugly sisters, Captain Hook, or Cruella Vilejudge.

Then as the pantomime advanced to the inevitable happy ending, Seargent produces a bombshell. Says he is quitting the show, as he had come to realise there was a distinct chance he could win despite turning in by far the worse technical performances. Cries of dismay from millions of viewers. BBC offers to pay back costs of phone-calls by distraught viewers. Seargent is hauled before the grand inquisitor Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight to explain himself.

Why was Sergeant so popular? Partly because of a brilliant piece of casting as the downtrodden pantomime hero or heroine. Partly because of the interesting dynamics of the programme which we discussed in an earlier blog.

Why did an audience of eleven million people and more watch in the weeks building up to an unexpected and dramatic end to the story? Why did it become a brief national obsession? During the peak of the story [19th Nov 2008] I found nearly 2000 news stories about it. Roughly twice as many stories as the medical breakthrough to produce the first organ transplant (a windpipe) using stem-cell technology.

The popular view seems to be that the programmes’s success is something about the Great British Public not wanting to be bullied by those nasty judges. Which is puzzling in that a core feature of the program is all audience participation in an exercise in mock bullying.