Week of January 17, 2011
USA Field Hockey Weekly Report-Week of January 17, 2011
This will be my Soap Box edition. I wanted this week to speak of two areas of concern; one “global” to Olympic/Pan Am sport in the USA, and the other that is global to sport officiating, but is also very specific to hockey. First the Global to Olympic Sport area:
For 2011, the USOC cut allocations to a number of sport National Governing Bodies (NGBs) for under-performing in some business areas and more specifically in podium appearances within international competition. But, this observation is not about the USOC; it is about how Olympic/Pan Am sport funding might be evolving in the USA. In actual fact, the USOC has been -and continues to be -productive in many areas such as sponsor development and working with NGBs to improve high performance. The USOC’s CEO and CMO are both top shelf and are operating in a highly professional manner in a very challenging financial environment in the face of ever growing competition for sport marketing dollars. The philosophy, for as long as I have been around USOC, has always been to field a full team going to the Pan American and Olympic Games. Taking a step back and looking at what that proposition costs, one sees it is as very expensive. I believe the USOC still embraces the full team philosophy. However, the investment they make through NGBs is fully oriented toward a number of business propositions: chief among them is a position on the podium. Without a doubt, a return on investment (i.e. medal production) is one of the few metrics the USOC can use to justify donations and sponsor involvement. Success on the medal stand breeds success in many other areas for the USOC and us as NGBs. But, the USOC has limited resources; it does not receive governmental funding with the exception of some funding from the Department of Defense for Paralympic purposes; and, is dependent upon support from Americans through sponsor partnerships and donations. There has been a long-term reluctance to involve governmental funding due to perceived oversight from the governmental entity awarding funding. Having some governmental funding to the Paralympics has been a bit of a breakthrough.
Maybe the time is approaching that a serious look at Federal funding should be made. Many countries throughout the world have sport ministries and/or Olympic Committees that conduit governmental funding to Olympic/Pan Am sport development and general support. Having governmental funds to support sport gives other countries a distinct advantage. While the argument can be made that the USA has been generally successful in medal acquisition over many of the previous Olympic and Pan American Games, the competition for support dollars likely will cause Olympic/Pan Am sports’ portions to diminish, and along with a lack of investment there will be diminished performance on the field of play.
The Olympic and Pan American Games globally represent the best in the purity of sport, and are a highly patriotic exercise for our country and all others in the Games. These sets of Games go a long way in presenting an image of what the USA is all about. However, stereotypically these days our image is of a country with an overweight population, outdated manufacturing capabilities, and a country that has become a debtor nation. Marketers recognize that perception is everything as others weigh in on us. Our athletes performing on the international stage are among the most effective marketing platforms available to our country. An investment by the Federal government in the support of Olympic and Pan Am Games athletes would go a long way in firming up a highly positioned and positive marketing opportunity for our country in a very complex world.
And, the second topic: Civility in Sport. Several weeks ago at a field hockey indoor competition, we had an unfortunate circumstance of an umpire being pinned against a wall by an unhappy parent. That action was totally unacceptable behavior. Umpires find themselves frequently abused verbally and that is not an acceptable measure of civility in sport either. Umpires are one of the four foundations in sport (athletes, umpires, coaches, and venues) and without any one of the foundations the game cannot take place. Umpires are fundamental, and that is one reason we are in the midst of contracting an umpire administrator to recruit, train, and help reinforce umpire consistency in rule enforcement….and umpire safety.
It is common sense that we, as sportspeople, recognize the investment of time and energy made by athletes, coaches and umpires. Each group deserves respect. While from time to time you may disagree with the call of an umpire, try to recognize that often they are in a different position than you to see a call (i.e. you may not be seeing what they are seeing), and making a call as an umpire is often a split-second judgment decision. In 1961 during his inaugural address as president John F. Kennedy said: “So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.” Quite applicable in sport.
We will be reporting back to you in subsequent weekly reports some strengthening of protective measures for all of our different constituencies. This problem is becoming more widespread throughout sport, and together we must nip it in the bud.
Conan: “American Idol” producers say that when the show returns with two new celebrity judges, there will be less put-downs and more support for the contestants. In other words, this will be the last season.”
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: “In a few months, they will have upgrades for the iPhone 4G. This will give your phone the ability to send and receive telephone calls.”
Have a great week!
USA Field Hockey