Quantcast
Subscribe!

 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

 

E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in Sports (167)

    Friday
    Nov302018

    Accepting bids for sneaker sponsorship deals

    (Kinda) big news in NBA and sneaker culture circles this week with the news that the Toronto Raptor star Kawhi Leonard has reached an agreement to become a spokesperson for the New Balance sneaker company, part of the venerable brand's strategy to compete in the basketball sneaker market.

    Per ESPN reports, Leonard will receive north of $5M per year to rep New Balance, a figure that places the deal in the top 15 or so most lucrative NBA player sneaker endorsement deals. Nice bit of change for sure.

    The announcement reminded me of something I'd been thinking about for some time. Namely, why can't 'normal' folks get access to or at least be considered for these kinds of sneaker, (or any kind of footwear or apparel) deals as well?

    For example, take your humble correspondent here. In the last several months I have acquired several pairs of Greats Brand shoes to wear to events, conferences, speaking engagements, etc. These shoes are awesome. Stylish, comfortable, reasonably priced when compared to so-called 'designer' fashion sneakers. They are the bomb. 

    You'd think with all this glowing praise I am heaping on Greats, that I have some kind of sponsorship or endorsement deal with the brand. In fact, I do not. But that is the point, or the question I suppose. Why shouldn't I have an endorsement deal with Greats, (or Brooks Brothers, which is the only kind of suit I wear, or Adidas, of which I have about way too many pairs to count).

    It's not as crazy as it seems. Read about how many marketers are moving away from expensive agreements with social media 'stars' with huge (often fake) followings, and engaging more with what has been termed 'micro-influencers' in their marketing and branding programs. 

    So why can't I, or you, be one of these 'micro-influencers?'

    The answer is you sure can be. Or at least I can be anyway.

    So Greats or Brooks Brothers or Diet Dr. Pepper or Adidas or Miller Lite (don't judge), I am available. If Kawhi is worth $5M per year to New Balance, I figure I've got to be worth what, half that?

    Hit me up...

    Have a great weekend!

    Friday
    Nov022018

    FOLLOW UP: When your 'dream job' ends up being a nightmare

    A few months back, just as the soccer World Cup was getting underway, I shared the tale of how the Spanish National Team manager Julen Lopetegui was fired from his National Team post just days before the side's first World Cup game, for the 'unforgivable' offense of agreeing to take the Manager's job at club Real Madrid, a position he would start at the conclusion of the World Cup.

    Essentially, Lopetegui had lined up his next gig, his post-National Team Manager job while still serving as the National Team Manager, thereby incensing the Spanish Soccer Federation powers that be so much so, that they showed him the exit door just days before the most imporant soccer tournament in the World. Lopetegui was out and the Spanish side ended up not impressing in the tournament without him, not factoring in the contention for the title.

    But for Lopetegui, the disappointment of not seeing his job out at the National Team should have worn off quickly, as his new job, manager at one of the most successful and famous clubs in world soccer could rightly be seen as a 'dream' job for any soccer manager. A rich and famous club, an annual contender for the Spanish League title, the Champions League title, and a club where many of the very best players in the world aspire to play for. All in all, a 'dream' scenario.

    Well, not so fast my friend.

    About four months into the role at Real Madrid, and our pal Mr. Lopetegui finds himself in the unenviable position of losing his second 'dream job'. After a slow start to the season for Madrid, Julen is out. From a piece on Deadspin reporting the news:

    Pour one out for Julen Lopetegui, who has had just about the worst possible year a soccer manager can have. Real Madrid fired Lopetegui this afternoon, one day after an embarrassing 5-1 ass-kicking by Messi-less Barcelona, thus ending a nightmare of a year.

    As of just four months ago, the poor dude had the Spanish national team rolling into the World Cup on tremendous form. Spain had never lost under Lopetegui’s guidance, going 14-6-0 with a +48 goal difference during his two years in charge. But then, just one day before the World Cup started in Russia, Lopetegui was unceremoniously and inexplicably shit-canned by the Spanish federation in a bizarre display of frat-boy “alpha” posturing because the federation president was mad Lopetegui committed the mortal sin of, uh, not telling the federation soon enough that he was going to take another job after the World Cup. Predictably, Spain completely collapsed once the tournament started.

    A pretty amazing fall from grace from not one, but two of the best, highest-profile and most sought-after jobs in soccer management. Whether or not Lopetegui can recover from these setbacks and ever again score a role at a big club or as a national team manager of a top side will be interesting to follow. Because you could argue that both of these dismissals were not completely his fault.

    He was really successful as the National Team manager before they let him go for reasons having nothing to do with performance. And at Real Madrid he never really had much of a chance, only managing 14 games, and dealing with the loss of the team's best player, Christiano Ronaldo, who was allowed to leave the club.

    Is there a lesson to all of this? I don't know. I guess that even for 'star' performers at the highest level of their profession, sometimes things happen, and it doesn't end up well at all. Lopetegui did a lot of things right by most generally accepted career advice, and it still turned out all wrong for him.

    Let's hope he can get it turned around. And let's remember to watch our own backs as well.

    Have a great weekend!

    Wednesday
    Aug082018

    Culture, Experience, Dedication (and a little summer basketball)

    Warning - This post seems to be about basketball. It is not entirely about basketball. Maybe 87%.

    Basketball is largely a year-round sport these days, but during the period from the end of the NBA's official Summer League in Las Vegas, (absolutely the most fun trip I make every year), and the beginning of training camp for the new season, usually there is not much happening in the sport. For hoops junkies like me, the eight or ten weeks or so with no real basketball to watch can be a little bit of a bummer.

    But four years or so some enterprising entrepreneurs decided to try to fill that hole in the basketball calendar with a new concept - a $1M dollar, (since increased to $2M) winner-take-all single elimination tournament called, simply, The Basketball Tournament (TBT)  The teams that comprise the field in TBT are made up of some combination of former college players not good enough for the NBA, professionals playing in one of the numerous pro leagues in Europe, Asia, the the Middle East, and a smattering of retired players looking for one more run with some good competition, (and a chance to grab a share of $2M).

    TBT has kind of caught on among hard-core basketball fans, and for a couple of weeks in July, (supported by coverage on the ESPN networks), TBT becomes almost the most interesting story in the basketball world. Assuming, of course, we are not waiting for LeBron to pick a new team.

    But the real story of the four years of TBT has been the story of the team named Overseas Elite, the still undefeated and now four-time winner of TBT, and winners (remember this is a winner-take-all event), of $7M over their run, a prize shared by players and coaches. Overseas Elite, a team made up of players who have almost no NBA experience at all, most of whom were not even decent NBA prospects, and who now play professionally in places like Dubai and Morocco, has delivered a stunning 25-game win streak, (again, this is a single elimination competition), across four tournaments, while defeating many teams that on paper, had much more talent than they possess.

    Here's the part of the post where we shift from a sports story to an HR/Talent story.

    So to what can we attribute Overseas Elite's string of remarkable success?

    Three things that have resonated with Overseas Elite and can be applied to building teams in just about any endeavor?

    Culture- When Overseas Elite, then the 3-time TBT champion, had to fill two open roster slots for the 2018 tournament, they didn't just seek out the best of most talented players they could find. “We don’t pick just any guys,” team leader DJ Kennedy said. “We pick guys who fit our team as far as high character and not being selfish and guys who can really mesh together.” 

    Experience - With most of the roster consisting of relatively older players with years of experience at the pro level from playing around the world, Overseas Elite always played with poise, didn't panic when things were going against them in a game, and over four years and 25 wins under pressure, have found ways to win every time. Knowing what to do in almost any situation only comes from hard-earned experience, and often this experience can make the difference against a more talented team. Our lesson? Don't underestimate or undervalue experience on your own teams in your organizations. Having been there before is a kind of skill you just can't teach.

    Dedication- Amazingly, in the world of TBT and professional basketball, six of Overseas Elite's 10-man roster have been with the team for all four tournaments and have won four championships. Sure, these six guys have stuck with the team because of all the success, (and prize money), but have the success and prize money been a by product of the core of the team remaining intact over the four year run? Probably some of both I guess. While it is hard to know for sure what the real value of this kind of 'core team' consistency is, it has to have at least some value. If you trust the process on the recruiting and hiring side, and you have a decent strategic plan, then letting the team stay together to figure things out can lead to more sustained success over time.

    Ok, so this post was mostly about basketball. Apologies. But I love the story. I hope that Overseas Elite can keep it going next summer. I for sure will be watching.

    Have a great day!

     

    Thursday
    Dec212017

    Do sports build character or reveal it?

    Regular readers will know how much of a sports guy I am, as I have probably spent about a third of my time writing about sports related topics on the blog over the years. And I spend way too much time in the Winter/Spring on NBA League Pass and poring over the box scores. But it's good to have a hobby I guess.

    Yes, I love sports but I also don't take them too seriously. I didn't back when I was playing organized sports, and I don't now as a fan and as a parent of a son who participates in a few high school sports. Sports are awesome, but they are just games in the end. And generally not all that important.This may or may not be my HS team

    That perspective is why I never really liked the often repeated maxims (usually spouted by coaches, and most frequently football coaches) about how sports build character, create leaders, or somehow make people 'better' by virtue of their participation. Like somehow 'commanding' a huddle miraculously transforms someone into General Patton or Margaret Thatcher or Abe Lincoln. I just never bought in. Some of the biggest jamokes I know played sports in high school. And also some of the most successful, accomplished people I know as well. I don't think sports participation really meant all the much in determining any of that.

    Turns out at least one recent research study has come to the same conclusion. In an Institute of Labor Economics paper titled 'Do High School Sports Build or Reveal Character?', authors Michael Ransom and Tyler Ransom examine three large, national, and longitudinal data sets of high school students to come to the conclusion that high school athletes are no more likely to attend college, earn higher wages, or participate in the labor force than non-athletes.

    Here's an excerpt from their findings:

    We revisit the literature on the long-run effects of high school sports participation on educational attainment, labor market outcomes, and adult health behaviors. Many previous studies have found positive effects in each of these dimensions by either assuming that sports participation is exogenous (conditional on other observable characteristics), or by making use of instrumental variables that are unlikely to be valid.

    We analyze three separate nationally representative longitudinal surveys that link participation in high school sports with later-life outcomes: the NLSY79, the NELS:88, and the Add Health. We employ an econometric technique that empirically tests the sensitivity of the selection on observables assumption and find that estimates of the returns to sports participation are highly sensitive to this assumption. Specifically, we find that, for most educational and labor market outcomes, if the correlation between sports participation and unobservables is only a fraction of the correlation between sports and observables, the effect of sports participation cannot be statistically differentiated from zero. Thus, we conclude that a causal effect of sports participation is unlikely, and that most of the findings of the literature that report beneficial impacts represent the effects of selection into sports.

    Or, in simpler language the authors conclude that the kinds of people who are likely to be successful later in life for whatever set of reasons/attributes that make people successful sometimes participate in high school sports, and sometimes they do not. They may be part of the drama club or the chess club or maybe the 'leave me alone, I am just doing time until I can get out of here' club. But sports themselves do not function as some kind of magical leadership development or success training program that make athletes more likely than non-athletes successful later in life.

    And this conclusion goes against most of the mainstream thinking (at least it seems to me) about the true benefits and value of sports, particularly youth sports.

    Sports are awesome. They are fun. You can make some great friends and learn some things too.

    But lots of other things are awesome, fun, social, and provide great learning opportunities too. It is good to keep that in mind, especially if you are involved at all and at any level in youth sports.

    Happy Thursday. Have all your holiday preparations nailed down yet?

    Wednesday
    Nov292017

    Take that for data: Who you hire and fire signals your culture

    Apologies in advance for the pretty deep NBA-themed take with a back story that you may not be familiar with unless you are a NBA League Pass junkie like me. But I will try (as always) to share enough of the sports side of the tale in hoped that the connection to HR and the real world makes sense. Or at least almost makes sense.

    Here's the sports side of the take. 

    On Monday, the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies fired head coach David Fizdale, their coach of slightly more than one season, after the team lost its 8th straight game and fell to a record of 7-12 on the season. Of note, one of the team's best players Mike Conley, (probably their best player), has been injured and has not played in the last 7 games. 

    Last season, Fizdale's first in charge, the team finished 43-39, and lost in the first round of the playoffs giving the coach a total record of 50-51. 

    Oh, two more things to toss into the blender before we try to connect this story to something the rest of us can relate to. One, Fizdale has a ton of respect around the league with high-profile players and coaches, (LeBron James, Vince Cater, Gregg Popovich who shared their surprise at the firing and admiration of Fizdale). Here's LeBron's reaction after hearing the news:

     

     

    And two, Fizdale has been at odds with one of the Grizzlie's top players, Marc Gasol, the two reportedly not seeing eye-to-eye on many aspects of how the team was being led. In the NBA, star players have a ton of influence and power, as there are not that many of them, and teams know they need two or three of them to have a chance to compete.

    Oh, there's a three, (sorry), in Fizdale's last game in charge, a loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Fizdale benched Gasol for the entire 4th quarter, (an unusual move for a coach to bench a star player in a close game). Gasol was quoted widely after the game indicating that the benching had never happened to him before and he was ticked off.

    A day or so later, word leaked out the Fizdale was fired.

    Got all that?

    So here's the thing about the Fizdale firing that we should think about in the context of our own organizations. Fizdale was fired for (at least 75% of the reason anyway), for not getting along with one of the team's best, and most popular players in Gasol. The reasons why the two didn't gel are unclear, but what was clear was that the coach Fizdale was probably tired of clashing with the player, and sitting him on the bench in a close game was meant to send a message to Gasol, the rest of the team, and more importantly, to team management and ownership that he (Fizdale), runs the team on the court, not Gasol, or any of the other players.

    And for that, or for mostly that, Fizdale was fired. Team management and ownership essentially sided with the player, leveraged the (convenient) recent losing streak as a primary reason for the firing, and made their star player, who is under contract until the end of 2020 and owed about $65M more from the team, happy.

    The clearest signs of any organization's culture is who is hired, who is fired, and by extension, the reasons why people are fired.

    Fizdale was fired for a personality and/or philosophy clash with one of the team's stars. And for that, he had to go. The message about the Grizzlie's culture is clear.

    Players, (at least star players), come first. The team has invested truck loads of cash in these players, the team needs them to perform in order to win (and sell tickets), and the team has concluded the best way to accomplish that is to keep the players happy.

    I will repeat it, the clearest sign of your organizational culture is who gets hired and who gets fired.

    The Fizdale story shows us what kind of culture the Grizzlies want to have.

    Take a look at your last 10 or 20 hires and fires and think about what signals these decisions are making to the rest of the employees, to candidates, to customers, and to the world.

    Finally, I will let you go with this small tribute to Fizdale - his now classic 'Take that for data' rant after a close playoff lost last season. (Email and RSS subscribers click through)

     

    Good luck coach on your next gig.