Track & field rarely does the things that more successful sports do. One simple way T&F can move closer to those other sports is for people in T&F to simply respond to every e-mail.
In the Amazon Prime show “Sneaky Pete,” the main character’s parole officer gives him a choice: he can either be an eagle, or he can be a s–tbird. One choice will lead him to a productive life back in society, the other will put him on the path back to the big house.
That choice came to mind last week. Like most weeks, 10-15 emails to college track & field coaches resulted in 2-3 responses and one actual phone call to talk about college athletes’ ambitions in the sport, their potential interest in post-collegiate track & field, ways we can overcome the logistical, financial and social obstacles that dissuade so many athletes from staying in the sport… all things that should be relevant to any coach’s interests.
1 out of 10-15. That’s about average.
Last week also brought a single response from a different batch of outgoing emails, but that was a 1-of-1. 100% of the highly speculative, long-shot emails sent regarding a potential integration with NALathletics to an organization outside of track & field prompted a response, which turned into a daily exchange of e-mails.
The person on the other end was well-known and well-respected throughout the professional sports industry, both on his own merits having worked in several major American sports and by way of his family name. He showed genuine interest in our work and ambitions for athletics; understood the references to Twenty20 Cricket, WorldTeamTennis, Universal Tennis Rating; and looked for synergies between our organization and his own.
Ultimately, being a highly speculative long shot, there wasn’t a way forward (short version: they are looking to partner with established organizations, and my offer to fly there this week to establish something just wasn’t enough). But there was more interest and more dialogue than I can expect to find within the actual sport I’m working in.
As we talk about in the Lane9 podcast below, this story is almost a complete rerun of one that happened about five years ago. Then, as now, someone outside of track & field showed why he and his sport(s) are eagles, while the people in track & field showed why this sport is a go-nowhere band of s–tbirds.
Eagles know that sports, perhaps more than any other industry, is a relationship business. Eagles never feel so secure or complacent that they can pass up any opportunity to meet someone new, learn something new or consider a new possibility. Sports business eagles not only keep every option open, but they continually add to their list of options because at some point you might fall out of the air and will need some place to land before taking off again.
When an e-mail shows up in your inbox, will you be an eagle, or will you be a s–tbird? We know where each are found and we know how each react.
So please, for your own career, for your athletes and for the sport, be an eagle.