Evolution and Challenges of a College Division 1 Athletic Director

Aug 3, 2018 in Analysis

The concept of sports management involves many components

And one of the main components is the people who work in this field. Management in the sports is an important industry and economic category. Those people, who try to solve the problems of sports management, settle the problem of formation of new infrastructure, the characteristics of which have to meet the highest standards.

The concept of management involves the ability to manage a particular activity. Literally, it is interpreted as the ability to manage people. Of course, the basics of management in sport, particularly in educational institutions, have their own characteristics. However, basic characteristics remain the same. Manager has to manage employees, working groups, organizations, which operate in the economy. As sufficiently independent professional activity, sports management aims to achieve the main goals of sports organizations.

Impact on people with sports education is considered in works of historians and sociologists of sport - Allen Guttmann, Bill Venningtona, Martin Pauley, and Alexander Sunik (Elias, 1991). Most deeply the topic is worked by Benjamin Lowe (attempt to analyze the objectives of sports education in different periods of human history) and Jacques Glaze (for example, the history of physical education in France) (Coakley, 1990). A more universal approach to the sport (in conjunction with the art) as a method of influence is presented in the works of Henri Pouret: “Sport and Art” and “Is sports an art?” (Pouret, 1964). In these works author discuses the impact of the “active subculture” (sports personalities and art) to “passive subculture” in a positive or negative attitude. Structure management pays special attention to the Coaching School as a tool for business (Timothy Gellvi, Thomas J. Leonard, John Whitmore, David Hemer, David Whitaker, and Jack Stack) (Whitmore, 2002).Their works are devoted mainly to the use of sports analogies in business to meet the challenges of teambuilding, motivation, training, communication and organization, etc.

However, the problem of improving the organization and content of university sport, carried out by the department of physical education, is little regarded by scientists. Most papers on sports management are primarily associated with the economy of sport.

However, the development of university sports helps to prepare elite athletes and preserve the integrity of sport. The period of training of future professionals in the university almost coincides with the period of achieving the highest results in the chosen sport. To improve athletic training education of students is necessary, and its organization is not possible without science-based pedagogical management of college and university sports development. Pedagogical management of development of college and university sports is a system of targeted interactions with the scientific pedagogical knowledge of competitive activity in order to improve the social, spiritual, and physical characteristics of individual students.

Background of study is determined by the following contradiction between:

  • Focus of students for higher education and their desire to improve their athletic skills;
  • Educational opportunities of socialization of athlete’s personality available in the national collegiate sports, and the frequent unwillingness of trainer faculty members for their deliberate and systematic implementation because of their scientific, methodological, and organizational fragmentation and lack of knowledge in the social and educational patterns of the process;
  • Lack of systematic scientific-theoretical and practical information on the legal, financial, and organizational support of pedagogical college and university sports management and regulatory requirements of federal, state, and educational institutions;
  • Lack of pedagogically-based coordination in the activities of government authorized agencies of education, physical culture, sports, youth policy and the development of multi-level sports among college students;
  • The dynamic development of the national sport and the sports movement and slow improvement of the regulatory, financial, and organizational conditions of pedagogical management of college sports development;
  • The need of integration of national sports institutions in the international system and the development of teaching discrete control of domestic college sports.

The main idea of our research was the convergence, built on the identity of content and interaction patterns of social governance and the pedagogical process. According to it, teacher’s governance is systemic in nature, when its goals and objectives are subject to the laws of social control, and the principles and methods are adequate to pedagogical process.

Comparative analysis of domestic and foreign university sports suggests that its development is provided by the integration of the political, economic, administrative, social, and psychological factors; however, the lack of teacher control adversely affects the harmonious development of the individual student athletes. The combination of historical and logical analysis helps to determine convergence in managing the development of university sports, the essence of which is that its goals and objectives are subject to the laws of social control, and the principles and methods relate to natural holistic educational process.

For colleges and universities sports management, social sphere is of special interest. In this sense, the following groups of tasks can be defined (Jarvie, 2006):

  1. Formation of certain physical and moral qualities through sports training;
  2. Formation and development of a competitive mindset through competition;
  3. Formation of aesthetic and behavioral standards;
  4. Socialization through sport;
  5. Leisure Management through the involvement of people in the sport (both in active and passive forms);
  6. Maintaining the values and norms of the society.

Solving of these tasks is to some extent carried out through sport

“Sport management is the “last child” in a family of physical education specialists” (Curtis, McTeer, and White, 2003). Today in the United States and Canada, there are 207 programs for sports managers (for comparison, in Europe – 23, in Asia - 8, in Africa – 3, and in Oceania – 1).

Scope of activities of sports managers is diverse: educational institutions of various types, municipalities, government agencies, different organizations of amateur and professional sports (clubs, sports facilities, federations, etc.), companies producing sporting goods, etc. At the same time, according to the theory and practice of sport management, training is an important answer to the question whether the sports management is now a profession.

Ideally, the profession should have 8 characteristics: full-time employment, membership in a formal organization, a flexible system of special training, scientific knowledge base, customer orientation, autonomy and responsibility, ethical code, a system of political action. However, there exists the view that there is no ideal profession. Therefore, in answer to the question, we should determine how fulfilled professional role corresponds to the ideal model of a profession.

It is evident that in modern science “management” refers to the process of control of employees, working groups, teams, and various organizations operating in a market economy. Management in sport is an independent professional activity aimed to achieve the objectives and implementation of the tasks in the framework of sports organization, which operates in the market through the efficient use of material, human and information resources. In other words, management in sport  is the theory and practice of effective management of the sports sector.

Sports organization has some internal structure based on the specifics of a particular sport

It has offices, departments, divisions, groups, and teams. In other words, there are different types of management in a sports organization. Along with them comes the relationship and structure of command. This means that managers are of different levels and they solve different tasks. Managers tend to be subdivided into three main groups:

  • The strategic level (top manager) - leaders of sports schools, centers, clubs, and the presidents of federations, etc.;
  • Tactical level (middle manager) - heads of administration, athletic departments, etc.;
  • The performance level (entry manager) - administrators, managers, coaches, team managers, etc.

Athletic Director in college has to combine all these functions.

The chief executive should be a coach for his employees since this is one of the main concepts of coaching in sports management. In modern management theory, coach is just one of the roles that a manager can perform in the organization. But this analogy has a much larger scale and can be developed according to the dynamics of the environment and the needs of the organization. Alain Piveto (Alain Piveteau), HR - Director of the French branch of SONY company, characterizes the evolution of the role of the manager as follows: “In the past the manager just fit the logic of his status: he developed in the specified bounds, there was a few things depended of his competence. Today, it is not necessary to look for simply competent people: they must have a high human qualities to lead others, to respond to changes. More intelligence, perseverance, curiosity, independence and ability to foresee” (Bloom, 2007). If we make a collective portrait of the “new type of manager” on the basis of management periodicals of past five years, it will look something like this: the manager develops talents, builds trust, trains and teaches responsibility, inspires and accompanies, while being able to objectively and critically evaluate the external environment. The management style of “manager of a new type” combines performance, teamwork, development, and commitment to continuous progress.

Manager's job is very similar to the work of coach

To be a coach is different than being a player as it is a special competence, which is not produced by the athlete when he plays. A good manager achieves results not by himself, but by the efforts of his employees. His task is to gradually train personnel to make any decisions on their own and work without supervision. In football, the coach did not run out on the field to score a goal. Football managers do not play, they create the model of the game, procedures, and regulations.

Due to the fact that the measure of success in sport is much more obvious than in business, personal and professional qualities of a “successful coach” can be extrapolated with minor amendments to the “effective manager”. Mindedness, credibility, commitment, perseverance, determination, perfectionism, self-criticism, and integrity are just some of the qualities that a coach must have. And, what is more important that a coach on an individual scale corresponds to the scale of sporting talent of the team. This correspondence should be respected both in sport and management.

In this connection it is interesting to note the methods that were used by Hiddink, the famous and successful coach of the Netherlands national football team. Among the changes through which Hiddink lead the teams, which he coached, we can identify some general principles of management and characteristic of his management style (Viner, 2009).

  1. Setting of goals: “You will find out when the time comes”;
  2. The new paradigm: “Forget about the past and set a new standard”;
  3. Key factors for success: “Focus on your advantages”;
  4. Attitude to the competition: “Challenging strong rivals”;
  5. Implementation: “One after the other, in sequence ...”.

If we talk about features of the coach, which may be useful for athletic director, on the basis of Guus Hiddink’s experience, the following “attributes of leadership” can be marked out:

  1. Perseverance: consistent implementation of own principles in practice. Even when his training program not seemed to be effective for a year, he was confident in his approach - strengthening the foundations. “We can not go on using failed approaches of the past decades”, - he said, explaining his methods.
  2. Impartiality: in the process of players’ evaluation to take into account only their fitness and ability. Not to take into account the age, experience, family ties of team members, and personal attitude.
  3. Strengthening the foundations: training system can not be universal for each team, even if one day it was successful. All efforts should be aimed at strengthening the competitive advantage. This requires analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the team.
  4. Innovation: in the case of national teams of Russia and South Korea, it was necessary to increase the independence of the players. Hiddink refused inflexible principle of building a team for the benefit of “creative football”, thus carrying out an original rotation within the team. Players can try themselves at different roles from forward to midfield. So unexpected advantages of each player can be identified and new play patterns can be created in the process of training. To increase competition in the team, Hiddink has introduced a system in which there were from 1-3 backup players for each of the main players.
  5. Common understanding of goals and values. The goal should be easy to understand, challenging, and feasible to implement. Then the players give 100% effort to achieve it. And only in the pursuit of a common goal, players become a team.
  6. Autonomy in decision-making. Often it is necessary to work hard to get the players or subordinates to stop mindlessly follow the instructions of the coach and learn to think for themselves, make decisions, and act. Having freedom to make independent decisions, team members more clearly understand their roles and responsibilities as well as game strategy of the team. And for that, the leader must not only inform, but patiently explain that is much more difficult.

Principles such as freedom, peace, confidence, independence, and development have also played an essential role in the effectiveness of management style of Hiddink.

The fact that the team always gets the reward is often overlooked by managers in setting objectives and evaluating results. The team should have a common significant motivation which exceeds personal interests and goals. In most cases, any athlete in a team sport associates his result with the command output. The name of the team is important, for an athlete as it determines the prestige of the team. Only in the aspiration to common goals, individual players become a team (Laker, 2002).

The achievment of inner comfort by every player is the most important issue in team work (Laker, 2002). The philosophy of the team should be in the blood of each participant. The presence of a common motivating factor is necessary. However educational facilities or money can not motivate one. Only a sense of responsibility and commitment allows to subordinate personal interests to the team goals. A result of receiving facilities in education can only act as a fair compensation of efforts.

We should mention such an essential component of the athletic director’s work as the building of effective communication.

The process of communication is one of a major internal organizational processes, both in business and sport. A team which achieved harmony in work has its own language of communication. Communication in sports are limited, but effective. This does not mean that we should try to minimize the communication and localize it. However, it is advisable to understand that the sport communication process is of great importance.

Athletes have to spend a lot of time together

Of course, compatibility is important, but in such close contact conflicts are inevitable. During formation and operation of a sports team that factor is given a lot of attention, but does not always solve the problem. This principle is often overlooked, but there are many theories of social and psychological interaction in sports management in colleges. In practice, the formation of an effective team is often carried out on the basis of competence of the team. In an interview with Tito Vilanova the question of the compatibility of the players caused the most active discussion. Ideas and practices that are applied to this area by FC “Barcelona” can be more than useful in the work of athletic director:

“The fact that today almost all players of the first team “Barcelona”(Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Herar Pique, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Pedro Rodriguez, Bojan Krkic) – are graduates of “La Masía” (Youth Sports Academy at the sports club “Barcelona”) largely solves the problem of compatibility of players. Of course, all the characters are different, but they have a common culture, principles and standards of behavior which were laid in the early years. Since childhood, our players were raised in the same environment. After school, they not only learned to play football, they instill certain interests and values. This is important. The coach, by the way, is also a graduate of the “La Macià” Academy. We ourselves grow players for our teams. “La Macià” is not just football, but more than 40 sports” (Burton, 2009).

Thus, in order for a sports manager to be a successful leader, he/she has to apply the general principles of management. Most of these principles are related to human resource management. Just as in the business organization employee commitment the organization's mission and corporate patriotism is the key to effective functioning of the organization, a key challenge of athletic director in the college is to develop students' team spirit, commitment to a common goal, a victory for the sake of team prestige. When analyzing and reengineering processes in the field of sports management, the formulation of the mission can become especially advisable, including a clear statement of purpose, a new paradigm, the key success factors (a kind of “competitive advantages” of the command), the mood of the competition, and the conceptual sequence of steps to implement the goals.

Formation of an effective system of sports management at the institution is a high demanding task requiring careful consideration of all components.

But it is obvious that organizational diagnostics should be carried out in the initial stage of the work on the description and optimization of management processes. The main goal of it is defining weaknesses, problem areas, and causes of process inefficiency.

Diagnosis can be done in different ways such as interviews, strategy session, an analysis of performance indicators. The results of organizational diagnosis are the basis for the formulation of the task to improve the system of sports management in college.

Related essays