The root of the problem

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco - The Philippine Star

The main sponsor of an international club team from the Philippines orders his coach to add a friend of his to the roster. The coach declines, saying that the player in question, a former pro, is overweight, out of shape and has a bad attitude. The sponsor pulls out. The team finds another sponsor and wins the championship.

An NSA head selects a junior athlete to enter an Olympic qualifier instead of the reigning senior national champion. The unfairly treated athlete complains to the media. The NSA head retaliates, taking the athlete off the national team.

In a crucial stretch of the finals, a basketball coach sends in a sub for one of his starters. The team manager supersedes the command and instead sends in “his” guy. The team wins, anyway. The coach says nothing to protect his job.

A world champion boxer gets a controversial draw with a bigger, younger opponent. Afraid of a rematch, his manager advises him to give up his title and move up in weight, supposedly to win another world title. When he does so, no one wants to risk fighting him with nothing at stake. It takes years for him to get another title shot. Another pro boxer signs a contract for a big payday with a world-famous champion from another sport. His “advisers” persuade him to pull out even after he receives a seven-figure down payment.

Another basketball coach gets into an argument with one of his bosses over the team’s development program. Behind his back, the executive maneuvers to remove the coach and put in his favorite, instead, regardless of how successful the current coach is. Then management rallies behind “their guy” and throws absolute support behind him to prove themselves right. At least they let the old coach have the dignity of resigning.

Do you see a pattern?

The propensity of wanting things done a certain way out of pride – not knowledge or experience – puts so-called managers into conflict with their coaches (who are hired because they are the experts) and athletes (the ones who are actually out in the field competing). Insecure bosses want to be right and take credit, at any cost. Even if it means damaging or outright dismantling a hard-earned, successful program and losing all its gains, they’ll do it simply out of pride. As they say, money introduces a man to himself. Having affluence, influence or power doesn’t make you a better person; it just makes you more of what you already were. If you were petty and closed-minded to begin with, then that will not change. And if your way prevails, neither will the outcome. If you’re lucky, your athletes will win in spite of you.


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