Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Professional Athelte's: Talent vs. Conduct

Bob Ryan wrote an interesting piece about the cost of talent vs. conduct in professional sports. Recent examples: Pacman Jones, Willie Andrews and Manny Ramirez.

In each of these cases, the player conducted himself in a manner which would have gotten him fired from a job if he worked in the real world. Yes, what Manny did was not as bad as what Pacman Jones was accused of and what Willie Andrews was arrested and released from the Pats for (though this is Manny's second such incident - see the Manny/Youk dug-out spat a few weeks ago). Regardless, conduct incidents have been on the rise in professional sports. Is it a matter of more media attention and that nothing can slip through the cracks any more or can this behavior be blamed on created a generation of professional athletes who have had the world handed to them on a gold platter and they think they can do whatever they want?

I think it's a combination of both. The biggest problem in all of this is how team's handle these situations. Should Manny have been suspended for a couple of games? Yes, I think so. Should teams take a tougher approach with discipline? Yes, I think so.

They won't, however. Why?

Because winning is everything. Winning makes owners richer. It's a better investment to seek the counsel of crisis communication experts than suspend a player. "Handling things in-house" is the way these situations are handled. They are not handled by publicly spanking a player, taking away game-money, and/or having the player wear street cloths for an extended period of time.

I realize that we've won a number of championships in Boston over the past 7 years. It's been incredible. However, I'm sure their have been lots of incidents - big and small - that have transpired with players, which never came to light. Part of management's responsibility is basically to babysit and clean-up after these overpaid, adolescent billionaires. It's in the interest of their bottom lines to do so. It's a horrible thing to think about, but who's actually thinking about it? We've been too busy planning parades.


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