Sports Management

This morning, I had a discussion with my 15 year old granddaughter, who is starting swimming competition at school. She has only been swimming for about 4 to 6 weeks now and has never competed in a sport before.

I have not been to any of her training sessions yet because it would be trespassing on another coach's turf and unprofessional but I have been giving her training advice she is taking to heart. I found out this morning that her coach is impressed with my granddaughter's progress because she is passing others who have been swimming longer because she is developing faster.

This caused me to realize that I need to provide you with some information, especially for those of you who are training or exercising to help you out too. Keep in mind that, as usual, this is just the nut shell version.

First, you have to understand that most coaches, even professional (paid) coaches, don't even come close to having the training I have in the sports sciences, coaching sciences, and sports medicine. Most of your coaches fall into one of two categories. They are usually has been athletes who either coach by having you train the way they trained or they got information from a better athlete and teach the way that athlete trained, the latter is what I call parrot coaches because they just parrot a training system they learned from someone else.

Very, very, very few coaches have enough knowledge in the sports sciences, coaching sciences, and sports medicine to custom design or improve on training systems. Easily less than 5% of coaches in the world fall into the latter category so that the best you will get will be based on what little they know.

Let me give you an example of the difference between a real coach and what I call a sports instructor, which is most coaches.

You have to understand that, with only a few exceptions, all of the top coaches in the US and world for bicycle road racing were has been bike racers who had read too many cycling magazines and knew nothing about modern coaching and sports sciences, they knew just enough to screw riders up. We are talking 19th Century coaching, people.

I moved to Los Angeles, California in 1984 because it was the largest and most competitive bicycle road racing circuit in the US and my strategy was to jump in the biggest lake with the biggest fish to see what I could do or to prove myself. It was sink or swim, baby.

I started by coaching for a local club, the MDR Cycling Club, that had been one of the best teams in the area a few years before but they tied my hands so bad I was really nothing more than what any professionally trained coach would call a "baby sitter" for the racers on the team. I had no control over their training or racing. I was not allowed to run their racing program the way I was trained to run such a program. It was like being forced to manage a team the way they did in the 1800s. We are talking Neanderthal coaching and sports management, baby.

In the early spring of 1986, frustrated, I left that program and founded the Los Angeles Racing Team with me as the only coach. I was intentionally the only person in the program who knew anything about bike racing or sports management. I even trained up my team manager from scratch.

Also, I knew that everyone else was running their programs based on the obsolete bull crap that was being printed in the cycling magazines and had been obsolete in professional trained coaching since at least the 1950s, so bringing experienced racers into my program, who had been taught to train and race that way would have been a disaster. Therefore, I started completely fresh by only recruiting beginers who had no experience racing and didn't know anything about training and racing except what I taught them. In other words, I did it the hard way but the right way.

Still, by the middle of the first season, my racers had made friends with other racers from other programs and read too many cycling magazines so they found out that I was not running my program the obsolete way the other teams were running their programs and, if you know anything about human nature, you should know that most people have to do things the way everyone else does because they simply cannot be different and do things differently.

This ignorance caused a rebellion in which half my riders just walked away from the team without question. "Why, the coach cain't be right cause he ain't doin' it the way everyone else is doin' it."

Except for five riders, who understood what I was doing and why, everyone else put one foot outside the door, while watching those five riders, ready to bolt and run. When those five riders quickly began to show results, the rest of the riders pulled that other foot inside the door, started doing what I told them without question, and the program took off like a Saturn Five rocket. It screamed to high heaven.

You have to understand that, at that time, with the best coaches in the nation and Europe, it took ALL of the men at least 10 to 15 years to get good enough they could "race front of the pack" against pros or race aggressively at the front of the pack in at least a pro-am pack, it took women (their racing was less developed than the men's racing) at least 4 to 5 years to race front of the pack against the best women, it took Juniors (18 and under) at least 4 to 6 years to race front of the pack against the best Juniors, and it took masters (35 and older) at least 5 to 6 years to race front of the pack against the best masters. I know, I asked everyone.

With no prior training or racing experience, my men were racing front of the pack against pros within 4 to 5 years, my women were racing front of the pack within 2 to 3 years, my Juniors were racing front of the pack within 1.5 to 2 years, and my masters were racing front of the pack within 3 to 4 years, absolutely faster than any other coach in the nation or world. That is the difference between a professionally trained coach and a has been athlete and that isn't even the complete story. I did much, much better than that and could easily go on for at least a few more pages at how bad I beat the best of my competition but I doubt that would be necessary.

Sports management

For sports management, you have to know all of that and much more. I studied athletic administration under Heck Kenny, Ph.D. when he was ranked as one of the two best athletic administrative specialists in the US and one of the best in the world. I am TRAINED to take a sports program from scratch and develop it all of the way to completion and management at the collegiate, professional, and Olympic level. THEN I went out into the real world, began doing research, and added to that. I always try to learn more to do better and am never satisfied with what I can do.

Let me give you some really good examples of the difference between an athletic administrator and either a has been athlete or business manager in facilities management and sports organization.

You need to know that bicycle tracks have a problem with weather in that any moisture or dust on the track in the bankings makes the track unrideable because the tires will lose traction and riders will fall off the track, which means they have to close the track down and can't use it during such times, which means most of the time, especially in northerly climates.

In spite of this, the has been bike racers and business managers build almost all of their velodromes outside, which means they can't use them for anywhere from 60% to 90% of the time and then they wonder why they can't make enough money to keep those tracks open. There is such a track in Colorado that just went up for sale because of this.

Listen, if you couldn't use your business facility 60% to 90% of the time, your business would go broke too but they just keep doing it and refuse to learn from everyone else's mistake. No velodromes should be built outdoors.

"Yeah, but everybody else does." Yeah, and they can't use their tracks most of the year.

The reason?

Because they believe that a roof or what we call a lid is too expensive so, to save money on the initial investment, they give up anywhere from two thirds to 90% of their potential business, which is really stupid. It also means they didn't do their homework, which is what I am about to show you.

They keep building outdoor concrete tracks in spite of the fact that a concrete track is slower than a wood track, you know, because they can build it outdoors, which no track should be built out doors. Now keep in mind that ten years ago, an outdoor concrete track cost $3 to $5 million dollars.

They have also FINALLY learned that a 250 meter track is best for general purpose, after decades of promoting much bigger 333 and 400 meter tracks "that hold more riders" that do not properly prepare riders to race on the regularly international standard 250 meter tracks, which have to be ridden differently.

For example, assuming a pack will stretch out to 50 meters in length in a pack race, with a 333 meter track, you are 283 meters from the front of the pack to the back of the pack for lapping the pack and, with a 250 meter track, you are only 200 meters from being able to lap the pack, 83 meters less, which is a big difference. This means that at least 2 to 3 times more riders can lap a pack on a 250 meter track than can lap a pack on a 333 meter track so the racing will be more aggressive, dynamic, and entertaining on a 250 meter track.

So, like the professional I am trained to be, I did my homework. I found I could build a world class 250 meter board track for $400,000 or $4.6 million less than a slower concrete track. I also found I could build a free span (no internal column supports) steel building that would easily cover the track for $400,000. Therefore, the track and the building only cost $800,000 20 years ago, probably a little more today.

Why don't they do that?

Because a free span steel building ain't purdy and, if you cain't have purdy, you don' have a building, you build the track outdoors where it rains, snows, you get condensation, and the dirt blows so you can't use the track most of the year, while, with an indoor board track, where the ceiling ain't purdy, you can use the track 24/7/52 or all weather and all year to increase your revenues.

Plus the purdy excuse shows they don't do their homework for two reasons.

1) If the spectators start looking around at the building, it means you are not keeping their attention on the playing field, which means you are doing lousy sports management, which all them do, which is why they need a purdy building. Hey, if you can't run the events right, get a purdy building.

2) You can hide ugly with just a little paint and proper lighting. You just paint the ceiling and walls a dark color like black or dark blue and set up your lighting to keep the spectators' focus on the playing field so they can't even see the walls and ceiling, which is what you should do anyway.

Why do you want purdy to distract people from watching the playing field?

You should design your facility to cause people to look at the playing field and watch the activity, not to cause people to be distracted from and become board watching the activity. Your spectators don't come to look at a purdy building, they come to watch an activity. If they wanted to look at a purdy building, they would go to a museum or overpriced government building.

None of these people have studied spectator psychology and I could write a book about that alone.

Let me give you another example, a friend asked me to be the staging director for a 333 velodrome in LA that his assistant, a has been bike racer, was managing an international event on. I guess he wanted a little insurance to cover his has been bike racer and he needed it because I save their butts.

The idiot has been bike racer got to thinking too much of himself, you know, I is are be a big shot event promoter, and, instead of managing the event, he ran off to the infield to pal around with the world class bike racers to be a big shot. 15 minutes after the event was scheduled to start and everyone knew the event had to be completed in 2.5 hours to keep the spectators from losing interest and walking out, my friend came to me and told me, "Carl, I hate to do this to you because I don't think anyone can save this event but, will you please take over and manage this event to save my butt." He knew he couldn't save the international event and was hoping I could.

I said sure, took my copy of the schedule of activities, went to the race officials and told them I had just taken over managing the event, they told me they wished me the best but felt that "no one" could save that event, I went to the announcer and told him the same, he told me he wished me the best but felt "no one" could save the event, and I started the dance. I am sure I have told you that I love dancing in tornados, where things are moving fast all around you and you have to keep up with them. It is exhilarating.

Using my training in events management, I started more than 15 minutes late, ran all of the events as scheduled, and still finished the event 30 minutes early while watching the crowd to make sure I kept their attention on the playing field so they didn't lose interest. Afterward, they ALL told me that they were surprised that I not only saved the event but had done a better job of running it than they had ever seen anyone else do. God taught me to dance well in tornadoes. It is a real blessing.

That is the difference between a professionally trained sports manager and a has been athlete and there is much more that I could write about for pages showing the difference.

I began working on designing a velodrome and its program while I was still in college in about 1969 with the idea that someday I wanted to eventually build a track and use it for the base for my sports programs. After I left college, I called some of the major sports stadiums and found that, if I simply stated that I was doing research on athletic administration, the top administrator would give me half an hour to an hour to discuss how they ran their facility because, in those days, all of those big baseball and football stadiums were still privately owned and were run by athletic administrators, so I was one of them and they got to enjoy talking shop with me. Since then, cities started building and maintaining them with your tax dollars to "bring more jobs to their town."

One thing I learned was that the pro football and baseball teams couldn't generate enough revenues to pay for those facilities so the athletic administrators had to run many smaller activities to pay rent. Common sense told me that, if the most popular professional sports in the US couldn't pay the rent on such facilities, then a minor sport like bicycle track racing couldn't either. Therefore, I learned that I would have to design, build, and manage a velodrome as a multiple sport facility the way I was trained to do with college sports facilities.

Today, has been bike racers keep trying to build velodromes as single sports facilities and always end up with your tax dollars keeping their doors open or them having to sell the track because they don't know what they are doing.

Now, I have to warn you that sometimes politicians and bureaucrats will try to use sports facilities as a multiple sport facility but they are completely clueless about athletic administration and I have never seen one time they even did a decent job and usually end up shutting the facility down and destroying what they built with your tax dollars because they are ignorant idiots.

Someday, just for fun, I should tell you about the velodrome I designed and why but that will probably take at least a small book because a prospectus I wrote for a much more simple velodrome was at least 15 to 20 pages long, the prospectus for my track would easily be at least 10 times that long and I don't think most of you would want to wade through that unless I made it the nutshell version.

People, it should only be common sense that you cannot learn as much riding a bicycle up and down a highway or on a track as you can learn in four years of college. It is just not possible.

Remember that I have taught you that knowledge is a tool you use to create, build, and succeed, the more knowledge you have, the more tools you have and the more tools you have means you are more likely to succeed.

To me, these has been athletes, with no training at all, trying to run, manage, and coach sports events and programs is like someone rebuilding a car from the ground up with nothing more than a screw driver and pair or piers. It ain't going to be purdy, baby. They have no idea how much better they could do the job with the right tools.

Learn more so you can do more and be sure you get a properly trained coach or sports manager for your sports program. Ignorance is bliss and will screw everything up every time.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

You better....

Pray long, pray hard, pray often!!!

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