Earlier this year, Business Insider published an excellent piece in which Patrick Stolen and Michelle Arnold broke down the skill sets, tools, and business tools required for professional sports teams to operate like professional businesses. The writers started by comparing the costs of operating a professional sports club versus a professional corporation.
We often refer to small wins we amass as something of “a sport,” like when taking advantage of the best casino bonus on offer, having searched far and wind to find a shortlist, but that doesn’t come close to what it takes to make in the actual sporting world, beyond being the starring, pro-athlete. Below is what they concluded about the biggest cost: Talent and non-financial resources:
You don’t need a job title to manage a team. From managing our payroll, to managing sponsorship, to managing marketing partnerships, sports teams typically have direct reports that handle those resources in the same way an accountant manages a checking account, or a risk manager manages risk. It’s that simple: Teams have bosses who create budgets and goals, they hire employees, and they manage those employees. The non-financial resources cost for a sports team is almost always a non-financial resource: talent.
This brings us to how to have a professional sports team compete. The first step is to build a high-performing culture. The leadership and the coaches on the professional sports teams have a direct line to the talent: That’s the non-financial resource that the athletes on the team use to win. One other way that sports teams can feel motivated to get out there and play the best game they can, is to listen to motivational sports speakers that can offer them guidance and help as they play so they feel a connection to their chosen sport.
I just finished reading More Seasoned Than Ever: The Inside Story of Colorado Rockies Baseball. This book is billed as the story of “the first baseball team to win a World Series in Colorado,” but what it really tells is the story of a non-financial resource.
The Rockies were a low-performing team before they hired longtime MLB executive Bill Geivett to run the team in the late 1990s. Geivett pulled together a talented group of former baseball executives, including Mark McMahon and Ernie Johnson, Jr. to build the organization that made Colorado baseball fans take notice. They expanded the front office to a staff of about 90 employees.
But before the Rockies brought on Geivett as their baseball president, the team was still owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Their non-financial resources did not translate to success on the field.
After hiring Geivett, the Rockies showed signs of success on the field. But the organization struggled to make key hires, find a stadium site, and add qualified personnel to the front office.
So, to continue building out the organization, they brought in John Thorn to run the game plan for the Rockies. Thorn had been the executive director of Major League Baseball’s Competition Committee, which developed strategic rules changes and ended the batter-runner interference controversy.
Once Thorn joined, he promoted his best player to vice president of baseball operations. The organization began to identify the talent necessary to build a successful organization.
The Rockies identified who they wanted as managers. These managers included Eric Studesville, Dave Magadan, Luis Gomez, Mike Redmond, Bill Russell, Jerry Manuel, and Walt Weiss.