The Organizational Psychology of Sport: Preliminary Review

December 27, 2016

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The Organizational Psychology of Sport edited by Christopher Wagstaff explores the nature of sports leadership and the way in which organizational psychology can help in the study and application of sport. It shows considerable fit with the approaches found in the Dilemmas of Leadership textbook

Last year I added a chapter on sports leadership to the third edition of Dilemmas of Leadership. I identified three key issues for the chapter:

Cultural and personal identity through sporting engagement

Developing sporting excellence

Distributed leadership in sports management

These and other dilemmas are to be covered in contributions to be found in Wagstaff’s impressive text.

For sports management courses, The Organizational Psychology of Sport is worth considering for a core text, with Dilemmas of Leadership (or its Chapter 11) on the course reading list.

Please contribute to the review discussions

A more comprehensive review is being prepared. I welcome contributions from LWD subscribers.


Big Game Hunting

October 6, 2016

By Paul Hinks

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A reflection on the demise of Sam Allardyce as England manager

The slaying of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe on or around the 1st July 2015 brought dismay and outrage around the world. Cecil the Lion had been tracked and killed by an American trophy hunter. Wounded initially by a bow and arrow just outside the boundary and protection of a national park, Cecil’s fate was unfortunately a formality. A tragic tale.

There was a strong negative response to the killing of Cecil – an easy target, seen by many as a completely unnecessary act. The debate around the ethics of big-game trophy hunting was well and truly set alight. In some sad way, Cecil’s demise and legacy may have brought some good.

The Guardian captured the sentiment well:

The outrage associated with Cecil reflects a shift in values that could be used to mount public support not just for lions, but also for wildlife conservation more generally. “This is a moment,” the researchers write, “not to be squandered, and one which might have the potential to herald a significant shift in society’s interaction with nature.”

Hyenas turn on Big Sam

Change of context, and fast forward to 27th September 2016.  Newly appointed England Manager Sam Allardyce is 67 days in to the job.

Big Sam had previously achieved relative success at less fashionable clubs such as Bolton Wanderers and West Ham Utd, using scientific and creative methods.

Sam had delivered results that exceeded the expectations of most followers – now Sam had landed his dream job. He was the manager of the England Football team – the perennial underperformers.

Then disaster struck. With one victory to his name, and 67 days into his tenure, Sam’s fate was also sealed. As the BBC reported, Sam had made a catastrophic error of judgement:

Sam Allardyce has left his post as England manager by mutual agreement with the Football Association after one match and 67 days in charge.

It follows a newspaper investigation claiming he offered advice on how to “get around” rules on player transfers. Allardyce, 61, is also alleged to have used his role to negotiate a deal worth £400,000 to represent a Far East firm.

Perhaps like Cecil, Sam was an easy target

Sam was the victim of an elaborate journalistic sting where Sam unwittingly compromised his position by ‘speaking off the record’ – suggesting he had knowledge of how FA rules on player ownership could be circumvented. Sam was captured on film using hidden cameras speaking openly of ways to sidestep the FA’s rules and governance. A breach of trust and a betrayal of confidence by Sam in his new employers. In brief summary – a serious error of judgement on Sam’s behalf.

In any senior leadership position there is simply no such thing as ‘off the record’. Communication of any type, with anyone, in any context must be viewed as if it’s going to be broadcast everywhere and anywhere. Sam had been trapped, the game was over – or in his words “entrapment won”.

Ethics and Public Interest

The English press has a history of targeting those who are in the ‘hot seat’ of English football. They may claim they’re just doing their job and operating in the public’s interest – but evidence suggests the press will display dogged tenacity and traits similar to Hyenas in hunting their prey to get their prized story. For them, the England manager is fair game.

Like Cecil, perhaps Sam was an easy target for those who had personal agendas to satisfy. In some ironic way Sam’s demise may promote further reflection and reform within The FA, foster change and deliver some longer term benefit?

The FA’s judgement and risk assessment have been proven to be miles apart in their appointment of Sam in the first instance. Surely this needs to be addressed moving forward?  The FA are the gatekeepers to the global game. They have been seriously embarrassed; the reputation of the English game itself has been tarnished and damaged. The FA need to take steps to prevent the re-occurrence of similar events in the future.

The England Manager is the symbolic leader of English football, and ambassador to the values endorsed by the English Football Association. Uncompromising integrity and verifiable strong leadership must become mandatory criteria for the selection of future England Managers.

Sure the Hyenas eyed their prey, snared Sam and displaced another England Manager. We must now hope that the FA reflect on the situation and adapt, and learn from the experience so that some kind of benefit can be delivered out of a truly sad situation.

 Acknowledgement

Acknowledgement to Tudor and Susan for their valuable thoughts, discussion and contribution.


Sharapova shows her class facing professional humiliation

March 9, 2016


The story has shocked the tennis world. Maria Sharapova admits charges of taking performance enhancing-substances after failing a drugs test during the Australian Open

The superstar deals with the career-threatening blow with remarkable panache. This week [March 7 2016] a hastily-arranged press conference attracts a huge gathering of media journalists from beyond the world of tennis. A ‘significant announcement’ is promised.

It was assumed that Sharapova was going to announce her retirement after increasing effects of injuries. We didn’t see what was coming.

A contrite superstar fronts up

Looking upset but controlled, the superstar announces that she has continued taking taken a substance for medical purposes that was placed on the banned list as recently as January.

She accepts the error contravenes the WADA guidelines. However mistaken, she accepts her guilt, while hoping that mitigating circumstances will lessen her punishment.

An example must be made

The sports world splits into those calling for the most severe punishment possible (pour encourager les autres) and those accepting her mitigating circumstances includes her honest admission of guilt.

From a business perceptive, she behaved in the approved fashion and demonstrated leadership abilities rarely seen when a PR crisis blows up.

women in business, Maria Sharipova, Tennis, sports management, WADA, drug abuse, Olympic Games 2016, crisis handling, leadership the business magnate

Sharapova was world number one in tennis, and is proving a world-beater in her business ventures. At one stage, with injuries holding back her tennis, a story developed that she was considering changing her name to Maria Sugarpova. I leave readers to decide whether that was branding candy floss. In any case, the Sharapova brand is highly successful. In 2012 her on-court earnings at $5 million were dwarfed by her endorsements of $20 millions.

Damage limitation

This is damage-limitation big time. Within days of her press conference, three of her lucrative sponsorship contracts were terminated.

She still receives support from her national sports organization in Russia, itself suffering serious allegations about institutionalized drug-taking. The intention is that Sharapova will be in the Russian tennis squad to compete in the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.

Reckless beyond description

Dick Pound, the instigator of the bombshell of a report into drug testing recently, described Sharipova’s actions as reckless beyond description. Brilliant PR and communication skills sometimes are not enough to protect a train wreck from taking place.


Inverting the Pyramid

January 11, 2016

Inverting the Pyramid

Book Review

‘Inverting the pyramid: A history of football tactics’ was written by football journalist Jonathan Wilson. It was published when Jose Mourinho was in his first spell as manager of Chelsea This review, unpublished at the time, has been updated as part of a study of Jose’s second spell at Chelsea

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Sweet Caroline takes on a new meaning for Godiva and tennis star Wozniaki

December 14, 2015

 Caroline Wozniacki Godiva

 

Maria Sharipova and Maria Bartoli  are among the stars of women’s tennis who have shown their entrepreneurial talents.

Now it’s Caroline Wozniaki’s turn, partnering with Belgian luxury chocolate firm Godiva

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“I didn’t see that coming” The glorious unpredictability of sport, leadership and life

December 1, 2015

Not a ReviewNot a week goes by without me stumbling over the unpredictability of leadership in business, sport, politics, and more seriously over environment challenges and global conflicts

Being alive brings with it the survival skill of reacting to the unexpected. Fear of the unknown is part of the evolutionary arrangements. Learning from the immediate is another.

My blogging tries to help me, and I hope readers,  to connect up the microcosmic with broader sets of ideas, sometimes known as theories. This weekend there were several moments in which my reaction was “I didn’t see that coming”.

Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury’s win over Vladimir Klitschko was one such story. It involved two excessively large boxers in a sometimes hilarious spectacle of drumming up business for their world championship match. The challenger, Tyson Fury, had a range of attention-grabbing stunts. He heaped on the obligatory abuse belittling his opponent. At one press conference he appeared dressed as Batman and gave a pantomime performance of apprehending The Joker. He burst into tuneless song, dedicating it to his pregnant wife, and once, to his impassive opponent.

His underdog back story of the Gipsy King was already in place, ticking many boxes some with similarities to those of bad boy Mike Tyson after whom he was named.

Boxing, that noble art, risks going down a path of gratuitous violence with increasing suspicions of its integrity of decisions, and welfare of its participants. I watch from to time to time with a mix of admiration and suspicion at the apotheosis of athleticism at the service of big business.

The long-established but aging champion was still widely expected to win, although Fury had his cautiously optimistic supporters among pundits. In the fight, Fury delivered the strategy he had boasted of in the pre-fight nonsense and was the shock winner. I for one was fooled, and perhaps so was Klitschko.

As one report put it

Britain’s Tyson Fury pulled off one of the great boxing upsets as he outpointed Wladimir Klitschko to become heavyweight champion of the world. It was a dour and often messy fight but Fury, courtesy of his superior boxing skills, fully deserved to be awarded a unanimous decision.

Ukrainian Klitschko, whose nine-year reign as champion was brought to an end, simply could not work the challenger out and did not do enough to win.

George Osborne

The chancellor stood up to present his autumn financial statement before a House expecting some humiliating climb down over his plans to scrap financial benefits. Osborne sat down to conservative cheers having found a way of turning a defeat into apparent victory.

He was no longing scrapping financial benefits as announced, he was scrapping his plans. A bemused Robert Peston for the BBC described the ‘conjuring trick’.

So how has George Osborne pulled off the magical trick of maintaining spending on the police, imposing smaller than anticipated departmental spending cuts in general, and performing an expensive u-turn on tax-credit reductions, while remaining seemingly on course to turn this year’s £74bn deficit into a £10bn surplus in 2020.

Well, it is because the government’s forecaster, the Office for Budget Responsibility, has increased its prognosis of how much the Treasury will raise from existing taxes (not new ones) and reduced what it thinks the chancellor will shell out in interest on its massive debts.

Or to put it another way, George Osborne is today £23bn better off than he thought in July, and without doing anything at all.

Time to go back to the alleged remark by Napoleon about lucky generals.

Robert and Grace Mugabe

Nothing will surprise me about Mr Mugabe anymore. Or so I thought. Then I read of the expectations of his wife that thanks to a little help from orthopaedic aids, she expects him to rule Zimambwe until he reaches his hundredth birthday. After that  Grace Mgabe is willing to assume the presidency. Grace has already astounded her observers at the speed her PhD was granted from the University of Zimbabwe, following her less successful efforts as a correspondence course student at the University of London.

Lucky Robert. Poor Zimbabwe.

 

 


On decision making, Plan B and half-time team talks

October 27, 2015

Sam DavisNotes on a rugby match, half-time motivational talks, and executing a change from a Plan A to a Plan B

The match features The Ospreys of Wales playing Connaught of Ireland. The game is as important as any league clash, but hardly one in which the result is career-changing.

 

Ospreys have the more glamorous internationals and reputation. Connaught have more local players, although they are catching up on the other Irish regional teams. Home advantage to Ospreys. Connaught are on a good winning streak and Ospreys are recovering from the donation of key players to Wales for the World Cup. Ospreys expect a tough match but as home team are favourites. Their home record against Connaught is very good.

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