One of our regular readers and contributors to the site, Jim Kneisley, sent me an email recently with a view of the current state of professional sports teams and their players. For fans of professional sports, this could be a thought-provoking topic … What We Want From Professional Sports:
1. Owners and general managers whose priorities are winning and exemplary professionalism on the field–even if it means some diminishment of financial success for the franchise.
2. Owners and general managers who acknowledge that the esteemed traditions and integrity of the games require visible dedication and maximum effort of all participants, fairness in pricing and fan accommodations, and openness in communications with team supporters and the general public.
3. Field managers/coaches who insist upon optimal individual performance and exemplary team play from players as a condition for playing time.
4. Field managers/coaches who exhibit strong motivational and game execution skills.
5. Players who play with energy and to the maximum of their abilities nearly all of the time.
6. Players who are exemplary in their personal conduct on and off the field, and whose demeanor depicts the importance of team play and an appreciation of those who support them.
What We Get From Professional Sports:
1. Owners who’s first priority often is maximization of the economic value of their franchise and who become predatory in their dealings with their consuming public–because the public has been willing to pay dearly for their professional sports enthusiasm and team loyalties.
2. Owners and general managers who are often willing to compromise the traditions and integrity of the games in the interests of selling tickets, maximizing broadcast/advertising revenues and sustaining sweetheart contracts with players and their unions.
3. Owners, general managers, managers/coaches and players who often disrespect fans and the consuming public by glossing over poor play and results with non-specific excuses and cliché answers to questions that serve only to maintain the loyalty between players and managers/coaches.
4. Field managers/coaches who understand that their “deal with the devil” frequently comes down to providing only as much instruction, motivation and discipline as the player or players are willing to accept–an unfortunate circumstance abetted by long-term contracts and “star indulgences”.
5. Some players who consciously or sub-consciously treat current pay as having been earned on past performance and/or who think that inconsistent effort and performance are befitting their privileged status.
6. Some games and some performances that are (still) positively memorable, and some seasons when a team’s performance is exemplary–even given the odds against that happening in the current circumstances of professional sports.
Who We Are As Fans of Professional Sports:
1. Sports “gene carriers” who learned to play and/or appreciate the games, learned to appreciate the difficulties and nuances of the games and came to admire and appreciate the superior skills and achievements of professional players.
2. Sports enthusiasts and observers who came to understand that preparation, dedication, effort and team play are pre-conditions to winning in team sports and in achieving success in most of life’s endeavors.
3. Vicarious participants with players and teams of interest in their games, and participants who are capable of “expert” commentary and dissection of player and team performance–frequently using personal skills sets that are much better now than they ever were when on the fields and in the arenas.
4. Team loyalists with nearly insurmountable commitments to loyalty whose emotions and comments are usually restrained and who have a healthy perspective for the place of games generally.
5. Team “die-hards” who may be capable of enduring commitment to their teams, and who also may be capable of love–hate relationships characterized by highly emotional and/or other exaggerated behaviors.
6. Persons evidencing (in the modern era) a willingness to accept “half a loaf” or to be conned more-or-less in return for money or time spent on professional sports products and/or events–apparently because of loyalty, aspects of the experience other than performance and/or a reservoir of goodwill not yet run dry.
Jim Kneisley – August 2009