I am sure that you recognize this: A motivated group of people, most of the time headed by an amateur coach (=passionate sports lover), who runs a sports organization like a club, an after-school program or a community sports project. It always starts with just having fun, and then suddenly you want to enter a competition, travel abroad with your athletes, or perhaps affiliate to a national governing body to become eligible for funding.
You then realize that you need to have your documents (constitution, member administration, strategic plan) in order, and operate like a ‘real’ organization. The stress is reaching higher levels, because obviously there is a deadline (to travel, to enter a competition or to send your application for subsidy).
So what do you do?
What I see happening all the time, is that people reach to former athletes in that same sport. Athletes are asked to get on board, and assume the position of president, secretary or worst case the treasurer.
“It’s like asking a car mechanic to get in the board of a race-car team”
I am sure that majority of the car mechanics (with all respect) do not have a clue of management.
The fact that a former athlete had a good career on the field, does not mean that he/she has the ability to work with numbers, think strategically or do the marketing of your sports organization.
It would be of course tremendous if you can get an athlete who also have the most important characteristics of a sports administrator, but what are the chances?
There is one situation though, where it would be excellent to have a former athlete in your team. Situations where you need (public) attention for your sports or event, are ideal to attract former athletes. So you are not using any of his/her theoretical knowledge, but you are benefiting from his already established positive image. I consider this more as a temporary task, than a long term decision in favor or the growth of your sports organization.
What do you think? Do you see any other big mistakes in sports management? I would appreciate it if you could share them in the comment section below.