1.What is Athlete Management?
2.What is Athlete Management mean to those Stakeholders And how do they all fit together like Governing Bodies, Player Associations?
Management as a concept carries different meanings that have been defined by different scholars. In simple terms, management is derived from the act of mastering, controlling or leading people. In business theory, scholars have used the term differently depending on the activities that are associated with it within the context o application. Universally, management is the act of getting things done following a set of procedures that have been defined. (Daft, 2003, P. 5) Suggests that it is the task of the manager to coordinate and put together various resources in an organization to achieve set objectives. In doing this; the manager uses planning, coordination, controlling, organizing, implementing and supervision to achieve the required objectives. Therefore Athlete management will entail coordinating sport related activities to achieve required results. Management styles adopted by leaders in the sport have several effects on the sport and those who participate in it.
In Sports we have the following key aspects worth noting as we point at Athlete Management because they play a valuable role too. Stakeholders are individuals or organisations that have an interest in the sports activity and they use their abilities and powers to dictate and influence the outcomes in different ways (Thompson & Sherman, 2016, P. 5). These stakeholders include Athlete, manager, spectators, and Sports governing bodies, Sports team and members of a community.
The next level of stakeholders is participants who take part in the field sport activities of the game. There are different participants depending on their abilities and experience in the field. Those who are trying out for the first time are referred to as amateurs since they are trying to learn the rules of the game while those who have been there for sometime are legends. Steward & Smith (1999, P. 89 ) argues that management aspects determine the number of participants since most of the Athletes and players seek for environments that will support them in ways that are better and professional. This boosts their well being which contributes greatly to their performance.
Spectators are the most important part of any sports since they play the biggest role in the success of a particular sport. Sports competitions are organized in paid for places since the organizers understand that spectators will pay to watch the game which raises income for the participants and the bodies in charge. Teams struggle to attract participants and fun which culminate to money rather than their presence. However, Szymanski (2006, P. 21) that participants play both economicaland psychological roles to Athlete sincethey influence performance of individuals in any sport through cheering. Participants can be the community or general fans who love the sport. The community has a special bond with the team and will comprise of members who come from the same locality as the home ground of the team.
Sports governing bodies play a critical role in regulating the Sport and mediating issues that relate to Athlete problems. Governing bodies are charged with the responsibility of controlling the sport through setting and reviews rules that govern the game and the sport at large. Every sport organization for example football and Athletes have their own organization that mobilizes and manages resources for the sport. Each country is supposed to have a national body that deals with athletics which is controlled by the international body (Gómez, et al., 2007, P. 12). However, the bodies have been described to suffer different challenges that vary from country to country which affect their effectiveness and ability to handle Sport related issues.
Mrkonjic & Geeraret (2012) Suggests that since the sports bodies are required to manage themselves and mobilise their own resources. They organise events that attract different participants, sponsors and spectators to generate resources that are used to run the orgnaisation. Where the organisation fails to support itself the national government will always step in to ensure smooth running of the sport. However, most sports have reaped heavily from corporate social responsibility where multinational and national companies have supported them through social responsibility funds.
Bjalevik & Ferguson (2009, P. 4) suggest that Athlete management dates back t prehistoric times where sports were used as training tools for warriors and war. this was to enure that those who participated in wars were physically and mentally fit to take part in battles and win the war. selection for warriors was aggressive and only those who were deemed physically fit were taken in as warriors. As a way manging the fitness of al warriors, rigorus training was applied to keep the warriors up to the task. Just like today, Athlete management seeks to put them in shape and ready to compete anytime.
Dijkstra, et al.(2014, P. 525) argues that Athlete management is to develop strategies that seek to keep the athete in shape and improve preparedness for future events. The manager identifies the key areas that the Athlete fits well and proposes a choice of the vent that the athlete takes part to maximise results. In most cases, athlete managers are called agents since they play the role of training and the same time strategic planners for the career of the athlete. The managers vary in their responsibilities, and the athlete can have one or several managers who play different roles in the career. These highly qualified professionals play a critical role in meeting the needs of athletes through seeking the best opportunities in the field that apply to the specific Athlete. Therefore the manager needs to have both technical and competency skills that can guide and enable athletes achieve professional gains in their career while at the same time being managed to make the right choices that will improve their career and not harm their physical health (Sherman & Thompson, 2014, P. 6).
When dealing with Athlete management, it is good to analyse the different aspects that the managers have like technical issues which they apply in the field. In Slovenia Šugman et al. (2002) defined sports managers as workers who were exclusively dedicated to sports management. This was based on the rising level of professionalism in different sports and the participation in sports as the career and not a sport. The rise of commercial teams that needed professional payers who specialized only in the sport to work for them led to the need for sports managers. Sport managers were therefore tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that Athletes are in shape and they represented them when making deals and signing contracts that relate to the services that they provide. This gave rise to this field and the development of sports academies that trained different Athletes in sport areas for professional engagements.
According to Wrisberg (1996, P. 395) quality of life for Athletes is an important factor in ensuring their safety and prosperity of the Sports. This leads to the need for Framework that highlights the way Management of the Sports can be done and key areas that need being focused on. There are high demands on Sports from a range of stakeholders raising keen interest on how Athletes are managed. Key areas in the sport that require to be focussed on are career development, athlete representation, athlete welfare, career development and emerging issues in the sport. The Conceptual Framework below outlines the impact of Athlete Management on the success of the Athlete. Professional Athlete Management contributes to high-performance, Athlete representation, career development and Athlete Welfare
Figure 1: The Conceptual Framework of Athlete performance
According to Bosscher & Sotiriadou (2013) Athletes achieve high-performance through regular training and practising. Just like any other profession that requires training to master relevant skills for efficiency, Athletes also need adequate training and practising to improve their performance and ability to withstand stiff competition. These strategies include talent identification, coaching, Sports Sciences and Sports medicine support, availability of training equipment and event identification. (Lysá & Šime (2008, P. 23) Suggests that managers need to ensure that Athletes are trained both physically and mentally to improve their performance. The aim of Athlete manager is to prepare the Athlete for competing in different environments that are different from their areas of residence and training. There are other measures that the manager takes like preventing injury, scheduling training, physical work ups and diet for the Athlete. In general, the manager is in charge of the Athlete’s lifestyle as a way of ensuring physical fitness (Chelladurai & Riemer 1997, P.135). This makes the Athlete achieve skill and physical competencies that can be applied on the track to yield better results. Unlike other games where strategies can be applied on the pith and substitutions made for the team, Athletes do not have those privileges and thus once out then it means that is the end of the race.
De Bosscher (2013) argues that high-performance leads to high-performance standards that the Athlete exhibits when on track. This entails controlling muscle tone and at the same keeping up with the pressure from other competitors. Athletes who have highly trained can withstand competition based on high-performance standards that have been set by those who came before them. For example setting or breaking a world record entails high achievement levels that are above the individual who set the record.
Managing Athlete’s entails representing them in different matters that relate to their profession. Indeed they are just professionals in the field who have mastered the art of performing on the field but may lack other skills that are important in management of their career. The role of the manger is thus to represent the Athlete in all matters that relate to their career like engagement in contracts, sponsorship and endorsement by different bodies. Further, the manager critically analyses any agreements that the Athlete engages in to ensure that the Athletes go through (Lussier & Kimball, 2004, P. 12). Managing of resources has also been linked with Athlete managers with a call for managers to assist Athletes in managing the resources that they have to ensure that they can have a better life after retirement.
Andersen, et al. (2002, P. 99) Suggests that career development of Athletes needs to focus on different aspects of career development like emergency planning, health planning and career development. Career development is putting in place plans for the Athlete’s life after playing. McPherson (1980, P. 133) Suggests that Athlete’s have a shot career since as they age, other upcoming Athlete’s prove more powerful since they have more energy. Further, since the career is physical based, it means that retirement age can come early or late depending on the physical ability of the Athlete. The manager needs to assist the Athlete to manage their career well and choose when to strategically retire. On the other hand, counselling and planning is key in ensuing that the Athlete has a plan for the future based on their career. Some Athletes become managers of other athletes, others become ambassadors of global activities while others choose different careers. Preparing for life after sports and understanding the life cycles of their career provides psychology stability that is important in life after career.
Welfare entails identifying issues in the life of the individual that need proper planning to avoid costs that relate to them. Managers need to cover a range of matters that revolve around the welfare to ensure that the career of the Athlete is protected. These include matters related to doping, being banned from events, mental health and counselling on the general life of leaving as a celebrity. Most Athletes are icons and celebrities in their countries. Therefore managers need to research and share relevant information with their clients to improve and protect their wellbeing and success of their career. Today sports organisations are channelling resources in this area through employing professional that can assist the Athletes and sports personalities, to cope with the state of being a sport personality, privileges and disadvantages’ that are associated with them. This includes strategies like how to talk to the media and being selective with information to avoid being quoted wrongly. Indeed the world watches these personalities, and thus their welfare needs to be protected.
There has been notable progress in the field with notable increase in the number of people who participate and watch the game. There are trends which are emerging and influencing the direction that the Sports may take in future.
Management bodies have faced several integrity issues that have painted Management bodies in bad form. Corruption and discrimination have been described as major problems that have derailed performance of such bodies. Corruption has been highly reported in National Olympic bodies that are in charge of regulating Sports activities within the country. Byers (2016, P. 85) Suggests that Management bodies face ethical behaviour issuess that affect their service delivery and put the Athletes at risk.
The Sports world and especially Athlete world has experienced tremendous changes due to the presence of multimedia companies that are keen to manage them. Sports has become one of the major sources of revenue for most pay TV companies while other companies have come with a strategy of managing Athletes as their core business (Cafferata, 2004, P. 7). This means that Athletes need being protected by the law against ill driven companies that are out to swindle Athletes. It is a fact that some Athletes especially those who come from less developed countries are not fully informed on how to sign and limit their contract engagements with such companies. Athlete governing bodies need to develop strategies that can protect Athletes from such companies (Shropshire & Davis, 2008, P. 12). These agent companies fight to control the Sports arena with deep interests in the advantages that employees receive.
Sports organisations have a lot of money which ends up in the hands of agents and companies that manage them. Athletes have been more vulnerable since the Sports is not seasonally prolonged like football. This means that agents have closer control of Athlete resources which ends up benefiting them more. There is need for Sports companies being transformed into stock companies to allow Athletes directly invest their resources rather than be at the mercies of their agents (Kartakoullis, 2009, P. 5). The Sports need new legal and Management methods that ensure those who participate are protected from fraud and at the same time, the problems that old Athletes faced in their career should not be faced by upcoming Athletes since times have changed.
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