I recently had a meeting with a marketing professional about the setup for a promotional campaign for elite athletes. I was namely in search of a professional agency to promote a rather unknown athlete, and to ultimately have him to become a real public figure. During this meeting, the gentleman however said something quite remarkable. He said that “only talented athletes can reach the top”… Right there I knew that our opinions were too different to work together in this campaign. The reason for this is that I find that one should develop (or make) elite athletes. Somebody with a (raw) talent only, will never make it.
I will take this even further….most of the talented athletes will not even make it to the elite status. Simply because they don’t have the capacity to squeeze the best out of themselves.
Let me just mention three of the so many aspects, that are important for an athlete to make it to the top.
The most important thing is that athletes should have fun during practicing their sport. This goes of course for any level, from the very grass roots to the elite level. Some of the athletes will lose the feeling of fun and motivation, if they are in a period of intense training and competition. It is then the job of the coach, parents and the rest of the team to remind the athletes about the fun of their particular sport.
Commitment is doing what we say we will do, long after the mood passed, when we felt the excitement to do it. As an athlete one should make him or herself the promise to never…ever quit. All of us know the feeling of losing commitment, like in January of each year, when we promise ourselves to stop smoking, go to the gym or go on a diet. Do you recognize this?
During all those weeks, months and years of training, elite athletes should have the ability to be consistent during their training, competitions, and even during the holidays. It takes blood sweat and tears to become an elite athlete, and this will take its time. Getting to that top international level is more like running a marathon, instead of a short distance sprint.
Like I said before, talent is not enough. I have seen athletes without talent improving better than the athletes born with a talent. As long as you can focus on “Fun, Commitment & Consistency”, you can beat the talented athletes. This goes especially for athletes practicing individual sports.
Now, let’s extrapolate this to sports management. There are administrators with talents for organization, fundraising of even finances, but if they lack the 3 mentioned aspects, they will be the weakest link of their sport organization. I bet you that the volunteers that perhaps don’t have the educational background, but are committed, consistent and like their administrative job, will outperform everybody. Look around you, do you see any examples?