The Definition of Sport

Definition of sport. Crossfit included.
What is the definition of sport? This, Crossfit and more!

Academics sometimes get a bad rap from people in “the real world” for not developing applicable knowledge as it relates to business. Often times these folks want “real world experience” and cite someone with a lack of working experience and more education as being less qualified than someone with less education but more time working under their belt.

I’m not here to take one side or the other, but I think both are valuable and appropriate in certain situations. Yesterday I had a great conversation with the owner of a Crossfit gym which got me thinking about the dichotomy between work experience and education. Let this post on the “definition of sport” serve as a somewhat “academic” approach to examining what sport means. You can look forward to more discussion about this topic in the next few weeks.
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How do you define “sport”?
A game with rules, a governing body and organized teams? Sure.
Perhaps a regular schedule of competition of two or more teams. Ok.
Maybe you’d just say football, basketball, baseball, soccer. Great.

According to Dictionary.com “sport” is defined as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.”.

Great, now that’s settled. We’re done right? Eh, no, not really.

Let’s look at this a little more. This online dictionary definition doesn’t even mention three of the examples I mentioned above…why might that be? Well, let’s explore the first part of the definition – an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.

According to this, sport is always an athletic activity requiring skill. Maybe even physical prowess, but not necessarily.

Ok, so what does athletic mean? According to Dictionary.com, “physically active and strong.” Ok, I think we can understand physically active, but what about strong? Strong how? Physically strong comes to mind – big, fit, functional muscle. Let’s go back to the dictionary…”having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust.” Yeah, muscles. Got it.

Lets put this together now – Sport is a physical, able to exert bodily or muscular power, activity requiring skill, and physical prowess sometimes, often competitive in nature (but not necessarily).

Interesting.

According to this common, accepted definition as evidenced by this online dictionary, sport is any activity that requires physical skill of some sort and is often competitive in nature.

I was a liberal arts major in college and the thing I learned the most was to question everything. In this example I question the definition of sport. Look at what I did above – take a common assumption, break it down into parts, consider each part on its own, then put it all together and try to come up with some conclusion for yourself.

Certainly Crossfit would be a considered a sport. It’s definitely physical activity and you’re always competing, even if only against yourself. The Crossfit Games would be the ultimate personification of sport – physically skilled, physically strong, ultimate competition for the fittest on earth.

But what about other sports? Say e-sports? Are video games sports? I bet many of you would say no. Have you heard of the various video game tournaments happening around the country (and world) recently? They’re filling up 20000 seat arenas with people watching teams play video games. Usually they are multiplayer games in a tournament setup with a bracket where as many of 8 teams or more compete for their chance at a huge pot of cash prizes. Don’t believe me? Take a few minutes and go look it up.

Here’s a few examples of what I’m talking about.

Something else I’d like to point out is that the Dictionary.com definition above included sports such as hunting and fishing. I think it’s worth pointing these out for the mere fact that these sports are very different than the others mentioned. Both of these involve wildlife and don’t necessarily require a whole lot of physical strength. Certainly enough strength is required to handle the respective equipment necessary to perform the sport, but putting an extra hundred pounds on your bench press isn’t necessarily going to help you pull the trigger when the time comes as it would swing a bat, club or roll a bowling ball.

So what’s the point Bill?

Question everything.

Go Forth.

Back to School

School, Quad
Back to School

Well, it’s that time of year again. Summer is winding down. Schools are starting back up. Families are getting back from vacations. Labor Day will be here before we know it and we’ll officially start planning our fall activities…especially our fall sports traditions!

With this changing of the cultural seasons, let this be a reminder to us of the resolutions we set at the beginning of the year. How are you doing on those? Not counting the rest of this month, you’ve got at least another 4 months to close out the year strong. Every day is a opportunity to make things a little bit better than they were before. Fall down, get back up. Fall down, get back up. Fall down, get back up again. It’s only if you don’t learn from your mistakes that you’ve truly failed. Don’t do that. Choose the way of growth…without pain we’d never fully appreciate joy and happiness.

So with that said, how is your fall shaping up? Maybe football season snuck up on you and you’re not quite ready? For those of us on the West Coast, it can be somewhat awkward if your school is on the quarter system…things are starting up but we’re not quite ready for summer to be over yet. School won’t start until the middle of September when most other students have already had their first day of school today. It’s kind of weird going to a college football game with very few students actually attending, especially for a larger school with most of it’s student population not residing in the immediate vicinity, or at least a short drive away. If this is your school or team, do you best to get out and that show your support during this treasured time of warmup for what’s to come. These early days count and should be cherished for the unique atmosphere you’ll find.

Finally – good luck this fall! Now is a great time to re-evaluate, re-energize, and re-start whatever it is you want to improve. Hopefully your summer, or what’s left of it, has been an opportunity to refuel your physical and spiritual and emotional energy to take on the speed of all that the autumn season has to offer.

Here’s to a great season. Go Irish!

Effective Onboarding of New Employees

Employee Handbook, Effective Onboarding of New Employees
An employee handbook can be a valuable tool used to communicate company culture.

Think back to your first day at the job you currently have…and the first day of the job you had before that…what was it like when you started? Who was the first person to greet you and say hello? Were you required to spend some time with HR or did you dive right into the work? Was your desk or office ready for you? Were you given some sort of employee handbook to review, outlining various organizational operating policies? How about an office supplies catalog from which to order whatever you need?

What was the rest of your first week like? Your coworkers friendly and asking you out to lunch to get to know each other? Clients calling you to meet about what they have going on with their current/next campaign? Vendors stopping by to say hello? Other department members with whom you’ll be working stopping by to introduce themselves?

I hope you had a pleasant first day, first week, that set the tone for things getting started on the right foot. If not, hopefully you’re doing what you can to make it better for all of the other employees that start new at your same employer…trying to make things better for them and improving what wasn’t great for your first day and week.

Recently, I came across the blog of the CEO of Gibson Insurance, an insurance agency in South Bend, IN. Here is a link to that post: Strategies for Effective Onboarding. First of all, I think it’s great that someone at that level actually maintains a digital presence and secondly, actually considers the company culture, especially as it pertains to onboarding new employees. The way your company operates and treats its new employees says a great deal about how employees are valued, new as well as established and tenured.

At the very least, here are few ways to make sure your new employees have a great first day.
– Make sure their desk or office are completely setup with appropriate furniture
– Make sure their phone, voicemail and email accounts are all ready to go live, once the employees passcodes and passwords are set manually
– Assign someone (if not the hiring manager) to greet the new employee when they arrive; this person should also show them their new work space and introduce them to the other employees in the office or building(s)
– Arrange for a tour of the building or campus, if necessary
– Provide them with access to all necessary and critical software, hardware and other programs that require credentials to access (including special access badges and proximity cards)
– If your organization has an employee handbook, this should also be presented on the new employees first day (ideally this is a living document that is regularly updated, but not so exhaustive that it covers every detail, except where appropriate)

I know that the readers of Bill’s Sports Business Blog are in constant search of improvement and seek to be the change they want to see in the world, so I hope you take time to consider the image your organization is making with its new employees. You only have one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

Go Forth and make a difference!

How to Use Data Analytics

Sport Data Analytics Example
Data Analytics in Sport – Start with Yourself

Data analytics seems to be getting a great deal of press lately. The emergence of “tech” as a social norm, the evolution of the internet and the attention of the big four social networking giants (Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…although I’ve seen some good arguments about who that last one should be) has brought data and its study (data analytics) to the forefront of our attention.

So what’s the buzz about data analytics?

Well, for one, it’s been around as long as math – pretty much since the beginning of time; and we’re just now starting to realize how “cool” it is to actually look at math as something fun because let’s admit it – that’s what data analytics is – statistics…and statistics is math.

Definition

Data analytics is the use of information that can be broken down and compared and contrasted in different ways from which, once analyzed through different lenses or perspectives, conclusions can be drawn about whatever it is that’s being studied (that’s my own definition). Hhmm, that sounds dense. Let’s say that in a different way. Data analytics is the analysis of data for better outcomes.

Let’s Try Something Together

Look at it in terms of your personal finances…do you track your monthly expenditures? This is the easiest way to use data analytics and to learn on your own. Open up MS Excel (yes that program that can with your copy of MS Office with the “X” on it that you haven’t used since college) or whatever spreadsheet software you have, Google Docs is a great alternative, and start by making a spreadsheet that looks like the screenshot above. (When you do this on your own, replace the “X’s” with actual positive or negative numbers where appropriate)

Label the first column Assets/Liabilities, the next 31 columns labeled consecutively from 1-31 and the last column TOTAL. Below those columns enter everything that you spend money on and everything that puts money in your bank account under the corresponding date that the money enters/leaves your bank account. For most of us, our “assets” are our day jobs – call this “work” or “salary” in your spreadsheet. Each asset or liability gets one row and each transaction goes under the corresponding date. If you get interest on your bank account, call that “interest”. Do that for everything you could consider an asset.

Then, whatever you spend money on, track that on your spreadsheet as a negative balance, since those are liabilities or things that cost you money. Do this for an entire month and, WA-LA!, you have data! Do this another month and POOF!, you have some real information for data analytics. And guess what…this stuff actually matters to you (or at least it should)! If you have no idea how to do analytics, just think of it as the digital version of balancing your check book. I realize I shouldn’t take for granted that most people know how to do this, but for the sake of argument I will. Once you’ve built up a couple of months of expenses and income, you can begin to make some real data comparisons regarding your money situation.

Now think about this exercise in terms of what your sports business is doing…probably something much more complicated with many more variables – that’s ok. Statistics takes some time to learn and data collection and analysis doesn’t happen overnight. Also, just like this example, data collection must come before data analysis. You can’t analyze what you don’t have!

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Also important to remember is that your data must be “clean”. By that, I mean that you must use the same nomenclature, phrasing, listings, and categories for every piece of information. Everything MUST be consistent. You can make this is as complex as you want, however this goes both ways; the less information you track the less work this will be, but also less meaningful – the more information you track, the more complex and challenging the analysis will be, but also the more meaningful the conclusions will be in your final results. Now this is not something to be intimidated by, but this is how to use data analytics in a very simplified example.

Data Analytics in Sport

In a sports business setting, the work you are using data analytics for is much more complex. For example, you’re using data analytics to figure out athlete health and performance, you’re using it in the box office to track sales and customer buying activity, you’re using it the marketing office to track advertisement and online engagement and effectiveness, you’re using it in the concession stand to track what items are selling the most and at what particular venue locations on what days and at what points during the game and so on and so forth. If you want to learn to use data analytics, I strongly suggest you start by tracking your own financial situation. Once you’ve gotten a few months of worth of data and figured out everything you can on that front, it’s time to advance to more complicated avenues.

If you want help or have any questions or comments, drop me a message on Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s work together and start a conversation. I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new. My challenge to you is to actually start tracking your own finances. By doing so you’re both taking control of your financial future and learning a useful professional skill! If you’d like to support Bill’s Sports Business Blog, please sign-up for the newsletter and consider using my Amazon Affiliate link. At no additional cost to you, I’ll make a small commission on your purchase. The proceeds from your use of my affiliate link directly offset the costs associated with this blog. Thank you for your support.

Go Forth!

Suspense

Suspense in sports storytelling
Use suspense with sports related storytelling.

I’m sitting here writing this blog as I am my wife is watching the Bachelor and I must say one thing they do really well is build suspense (well actually this was last night since I’m posting this on a Tuesday). The entire show is built on suspense. They keep teasing you with little clips and sound bites of the different characters saying different things that keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing about what the outcome might be and who is going to end up in a romantic relationship and who isn’t.

Even though some of the feelings we’ve see these people feel and hear them say this season are very obviously pointing one direction, the producers of the show have fed us enough other stimuli to make it anything but a sure thing.

Have you thought about that?

Well if you’ve ever seen a sports broadcast or pre-game TV report that’s exactly what they’re doing. So how does this play out in sports in general? Well, that argument can go one of two ways…

1 – Perhaps some teams or organizations refuse to indulge in that sort of drama and therefore don’t allow any comments. I’d be willing to be that most sports organizations spend enough of their time keeping their athletes and staff in line that they don’t need or want to to “feed the trolls.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing athletes, I’m only relating the fact that most teams probably prefer to be private and keep their matters closed to the public…doing everything they can to gain a competitive advantage. By keeping things close, these organizations are either unheard of and not often reported on or always in the news because they are so exclusive that any information that comes out is “news”.
OR
2 – On the other hand, some teams probably have a PR staff that is constantly pushing something out, whether that be good or “nothing” at all. They’ve got daily or weekly deadlines that must be met and they’re doing everything they can to be on the front page or on the headlines that night or the next day.

Either way, regardless of where your organizations stands between these two ideas, it’s important to remember that your audience likes a good story, whatever that might be. Suspense doesn’t have to be a bad thing, you can use suspense to build anticipation about how awesome you are…who’s in the starting lineup today? What’s coach going to do when we score this time? What’s that crazy fan in row X doing to do for the Kiss Cam this time? What does the student section have planned for their team’s rivalry game during the conference championship?

No matter who you are or what you do for your sports team, remember that suspense is good storytelling which makes for good business. Don’t make something up just for the sake of filling dead space, but remember this tool used in good story telling; and sports is good story telling. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end. There’s the good guys and the bad. And they’re both trying to overcome some sort of odds in order to be the one to claim victory at the end.

Build suspense. Tell better stories. Engage your fans.

Go Forth.