Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Job Description for Jamaica's next PM

Now is a good time, if ever, to put together a job description for Jamaica's Prime Minister. Over the last 49 years we have been really testing the leadership/management of this country and while some things have worked, there are a lot more things that could change.

The next PM should be a good manager
The next PM should be a good negotiator
The next PM should understand protocol
The next PM should be able to make decisions in a timely manner
The next PM should be able to select the best team to carry out the work required to grow Jamaica
The next PM should at least know what industries are trending and select the champions to move them ahead
The next should have read the following books over the last five years - The Politics of Change - Michael Manley; Animal Farm - George Orwell; Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe; Humility - Andrew Miller; Leading without Power (will find the author)
The next PM should have had another job outside of politics
The next PM should have some volunteer experience

I know there are more things to add, but this could be a good start....

P.S. I know commitment to people is important, but since that cannot be measured whether by an interview or by a psychometric, I will stick to these for now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JAMAICA needs stronger club structure in track and field

KINGSTON, September 2010 Just over 62 years ago, Jamaica participated in its first Summer Olympic Games in London. This was after a 12-year break from the Games because of World War II. The last being in Berlin, where American Jesse Owen took the world by storm. Jamaica (with the Union Jack flag as its symbol) copped three medals - one gold and two silver. Arthur Wint won gold in the 400 metres and silver in the 800 metres; while Herb McKenley took silver in the 400 metres. Since then the country has participated in every Summer Games.

Fast forward to 2008 edition in Beijing where the country earned its most medals in the Games history - six gold, three silver and two bronze for a total of 11. What has been the constant throughout these years? The love for track and field, and so the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association (JAAA) and its affiliates have made every effort to manage the sport.

As is customary in any business, the success has opened the doors of opportunity and the country has a glorious chance to create a dynamic club structure which fosters the growth and development of track and field. The two known and outstanding clubs are

- MVP led by Bruce James

- Racers led by Glen Mills

I know there are others around, but they need to be formalised and organised to absorb the ground swell of people/potential athletes who now seek to be trained and developed in Jamaica.

What has happened the burden is now on those two clubs and with hunt for medals on for 2011 (Daegu) and 2012 (London) - athletes have begun and will continue to search for a comfortable track and field home.

I am calling on the rest of the clubs to become formal and attract athletes and create a structure around them that will help them development. The templates are available and no need to re-invent the wheel. October/November is the start of the club year so there is time to get cracking. It would be a great way to support the sport of track and field we all love

What say you?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

College System - Bridging the Gap

For the 2011 – 2012 period in the collegiate system in the Jamaica, close to 100 student athletes have been awarded scholarships from colleges. Mico University, University of Technology, University of the West Indies and the GC Foster College of Physical Education & Sport have so far registered their intention to prepare and improve on the development of athletes from various sporting disciplines. It suggests that for the next four years, we should see our student athletes continue with their excellent performances on the field of play, but also have greater access to acquire requisite training and development in other professional areas.
These scholarships are a welcome addition to the growth and development of the sport industry as Jamaica progresses and grow into the sporting mecca of the world. This effort has to be lauded. While the colleges/universities have their own agenda in terms of collegiate competitions, it may also be a great idea to have the athletes at least meet once/twice each year to exchange notes and ideas on their varied experiences in a controlled setting. The offices of Students Affairs may want to coordinate on their calendars.
We know the value of a great education especially to athletes who seek the best opportunity for earning ability and it is the responsibility of the athlete to seek this out, but the system can and is playing its role. The efforts by the college system are also important as it is this age group, 17 – 26, that poses some challenges, according to researchers. So I am hoping we can officially track some of these individuals to look at their overall progress in highlighting the validity of the programmes and what shortfalls there may be, with recommended improvements.
Support Programmes
While we are growing the industry though, it is also of value that we train to provide the support in administration, technical, social and other developmental areas. We have seen how quickly the sport sector is growing and is bursting at the seams in some areas; but we have to be mindful that the athlete base does not outgrow the support we can offer.
It is therefore important to have better access to courses in sport management, sport psychology, sport administration, sport nutrition, statistics, budgeting and finance as areas that will complement the training being done on the academic side for the athletes. The Business of Sport while having the athletes can only be stronger if the support grows. The formal four-year programmes do offer some of the related courses, but there are creative ways to offer professional modules which last for up to 45 hours, making it also in keeping with international standards. What this does too is attract some people from ‘outside’ the industry to make better use of some skills and knowledge.
An athlete ultimately wants to perform at the highest level of competition, either in the world championship of their respective sport or the Olympic Games, and while London is just around the corner, the Brazil 2016 programme should start now. I am excited at these developments and we look forward to the support from all. Well done!

September 14, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

What makes an athlete tick?

Athletes appeal to us for different kinds of reasons and over the years lots of us have been drawn to specific athletes because of look, performance, personality, teeth, eyes, ears and so many other things. Most of the athletes we like are also great to watch on the field/court of play and television audiences have largely been affected by that in recent times. However, have you ever stopped to think what drives to perform at the highest level with giving top performances consistently? What really makes them tick?
All great athletes have committed themselves by exhibiting dedication, discipline, stick-to-itiveness and even a willingness to compete when the odds are against them and there are times we would really like to get into their heads to know how they think, what motivates them, what are the likes and dislikes and also how do they remain human?
The psychologists will tell you great athletes are coachable, they have a strong work ethic, they are aware of their work environment, they have composure, presence and poise; they may even be confident. But beyond that, there is always something(s) that touch(es) on the soft side, make them want to quit and also an inner part which want to do what they really want to do like party, drink, smoke, drive fast, put on weight out of season and even not want to train as per a schedule.
It is important for management of these athletes to understand these idiosyncrasies and work on a way to best manage and get the best out of the athlete simultaneously.
1. All world beaters want to always be on top and will want to perform better with each outing
2. All world beaters welcome competition but would prefer to be on top and will work hard at remaining on top
3. All world beaters listen to that ‘little’ voice in the back of their heads or even voices from outside, then do what they want to do. We have to give them choices with consequences so they are better able to make informed decisions
4. They also know when to take a break, even it does not agree with what the coaches/management say, but they take the break anyway. How long they stay on that break is what requires adjustment
5. We sometime spend too much time giving them instructions, as opposed to listening to them to hear their opinions. As the athlete gets older and more mature they too begin to develop a mind of their own and will require guidance and not instructions
6. They dream and if they share their dream with you, take that as your template to make the dream happen. There are times however, when you can be honest to say the dream cannot happen. Be gentle.
7. Be aware of the friends they have and be aware of the other instructions they get. Be positive in telling them the realities.
8. Listen more and talk less sometimes
9. For those who are close to their immediate family, embrace that, you may pick up a few ideas which could prove valuable in the near future
10. Talk to them not at them
Bill Cole, a mental game coach, out of California has written on the topic Championship Athletes – what makes them tick? Take a read sometimes.
In one of his columns he said “they learn from themselves, from those around them and from their environment. They embrace winning, competition and reaching their potential as athletes and as individuals. We can also learn a tremendous amount from them.”

Friday, September 9, 2011


I have had some privileges afforded to me in my career in sport and I am eternally grateful. And certainly in my numerous capacities, I know it is necessary to share with others in formal and informal situations where I can. I am also lucky to be a teacher, so therefore I have the classroom as my outlet. One of the realities of life is knowledge is power, only if you share it to make a positive impact.

So I have listened, read and heard numerous comments about the athletes' performances on and off the track and I am appalled, but somehow, better educated and informed about the expectations of people in a society like ours where the opinion is fact. However, not until you have worked in the environment, then assumptions are entirely out of place. As I always suggest, if you do not know...ask.

I would hasten to add, that still in 2011, there are some sections of our society who see sports as an outlet for people with nothing else to do and with that premise it is neither important and does not require any kind of hard work and dedication at all. So those of us who have sacrificed and defied the odds by competing or helping to guide those who compete are making sure we cover all bases.

The balance is being created by the BUSINESS OF SPORT, as significant earnings can take place and are taking place and people are making a living from Sport so the requisite training, management and discipline and maintenance is required.

Getting to the point. There are some people who wield a lot of influence in Jamaica and have used that influence to their own cause - nothing wrong with that; but also do not be quick to judge, especially if you are not familiar with the specifics. Those who write should write to empower. Those who speak should speak to empower and those who lead should lead to empower.

None of the athletes or artistes I must add, go out of their way to do anything to demean or undermine their profession, family, country and should be accepted as such; the creative outlet however, limited to the sport or music can cause overwhelming emotions to act 'out of accordance' with standard rules. And so my dear friends, use your influence to impact on the sector, which is obviously one of the most positive for Jamaica to help an athlete or an artiste. Volunteer. Offer your professional services. Bring back the community spirit to Jamaica.

The bearers of standards in Jamaica have shifted and the creative people are low hanging fruits (easy to pick) so they are heavily scrutinised. Our comparisons are a corrupt law enforcement system and justice system; white collar crimes; biased media, so the pickings become easy. Learn from those of us who have been in the trenches and help us grow. Most of us are willing to grow.

As we approach 50 years of political independence, I ask how independent are we really? We seem stuck in some kind of colonial past and won't get out of the little box we have been placed in. That is dangerous and counterproductive to any kind of growth.

I have avoided being specific, but I think the message is clear.

More time

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sport Manager - what is the real role?

Whether it is a team sport or an individual sport, athletes are hard to manage. This is not because they set out to be difficult, but that is how it usually is. The role of a Sport Team Manager is diverse, but should not be complicated as long as there is efficient and effective communication.

Jamaican sporting federations have been sending and hosting teams for a very long time and the people who get the job to manage these teams have always been placed under scrutiny. However, as sport and management practices have evolved, we need to adopt a few basic principles to ensure that the athletes are managed properly for the highest performance ever with as little issues as possible.

There is always the situation that the coaches think they are in charge, and they maybe, but they are only in charge of performance related activities. These though are critical to the athletes’ success as it is what the fans are primarily attracted to. But with more entertainment and lifestyle values coming into play, the athlete must win at all times. The team around the athlete simply facilitates.

Here are some tips to follow:

1. Communication and organization are key skills which must be learnt
2. Know the athlete or team you are managing – what they like, love and do not like
a. If it is a big team, get help in learning some back information about every member of the team. That information is valuable over the long term
3. Put the athlete/team’s interest first and not your own
4. Have regular interaction with all members of the team so all are generally on the same page
5. Learn from a previous manager
6. Sit in short management courses and study basic theories. Handling a group has dynamics you could never imagine
7. For teams that are likely to travel, make sure all members of the team has up to date passports and visa where necessary
8. Get the team together to see how they interact. This helps in room selection

There are some other key areas that I will mention which include medical, clothing, shoe sizes and just any other relevant information like home address, email and skype information.

It is also important to know the financial status of each member of a team just to be balanced in expectations and even actions on the part of each athlete. This then brings into play legal representation. As the business of sport becomes more probable, athletes have attorneys-at-law which play an important role in their lives and managers ought to know and respect that representation.

Sport is and is becoming more and more part of the Jamaican lifestyle and the competition though primarily on the field of play is also is how teams and athletes are managed to meet the demands of the comprehensive lifestyle sport has to offer. It is important that teams and athletes make that commitment to have managers who are qualified and have credibility. It is all part of the Business of Sport.