There are many former athletes and coaches who will tell you how limited the opportunities are in sport when that phase of your career comes to an end.
In fact Cricket writer David Frith explored this very issue in his sport to try and explain why the suicide rate amongst former first class cricketers is higher than the average suicide rate in every country where test cricket is played. He stated that for the ex professional there are only so many jobs as a coach, only so many as a pundit on radio or television and only so many as a guest speaker. What is there for those who miss out on these jobs to do?
Sport has in the past thirty years worked hard at trying to make sure that its younger players continue their studies as they develop as players, not only in case they suffer a career ending injury, but also so they have the opportunity of a career outside of sport when they retire. It was good to see that ex Socceroo John Kosmina has launched an academy offering more than just football this week on the Gold Coast.
Not surprisingly many young aspiring athletes look for a career in the field they know, sport. Yet in equal or higher numbers there are those who aspired to be top flight athletes but who were not good enough or had a career-ending injury who also are looking for a career in the sporting field. After all, the ideal situation is to be fortunate to have a job that you love.
Universities have wised up to the trend that people want to work in these fields and now there are more opportunities to study sports related courses than ever before. Yet with that comes a problem of supply and demand.
It was highlighted at the end of the 1990’s that there were simply too many lawyers being produced and that it would ultimately have an impact on society. As recent as 2014 in Australia people studying Law were warned that they were unlikely to find a career in their chosen field due to an over supply. The president of the Law Institute of Victoria in 2014, Geoff Bowyer, told the Sydney Morning Herald that ‘law degrees should now be considered a good generalist qualification.’From 2001 to 2012 the number of students completing a law degree increased by 330%.
What figure would there be to sport related qualifications?
As many ex players soon discover it is a hard market to break into especially when experience appears to count for a lot when new opportunities arise. It would appear that many employers forget the age-old advice to steer clear of an employee who moves job every three years; the theory being that they move on before their failings become totally clear.
It is therefore very interesting to hear that in Switzerland now that the Olympic Games are over 40% of the staff at the International Sporting federations based in that country are expected to move jobs. That is incredibly almost half of a company’s workforce!
Not surprisingly there has been a company going around the International Sporting Federations trying to help them prepare for such a situation and advising how to cope when it does happen, to ensure that it has as little impact on the organisation and the sport.
This is a phenomenal figure. It also begs the question, why would so many people want to move on once an Olympic cycle is over?
It is understandable that at some Federations there would be staff who would fill miffed that they were left in the office while large numbers were sent to Rio to keep an eye on their sport’s Olympic event. Yet if you really loved the sport would you leave because of that?
The decision as to who went to the Olympics and who didn’t could come down to leadership, and many may move on because they no longer have respect or faith in the man or woman making those decisions. Yet many of those who leave, so we have been led to believe, will be those who actually attended the Olympic Games. So why would that be?
There is no doubt that working for an International sports Federation would be different to working for a state or national body in Australia. With so many Federations based in Switzerland one would expect that those employed in this field are a select group, and that is maybe why the musical chairs happen every four years. That one Federation will happily pick up an employee from another. It is simply easier, and there are no re-location costs to worry about. Yet is the sport truly getting the best person for the job?
Is this sporting merry-go-round simply a replication of what happens here in Australia amongst the various sporting bodies, and in many other countries across the globe?
Where does that leave the young ambitious sports crazy graduate? Are they going to end up like the law students having to use the skills they learned in another field?
A year ago Israel was the country with the most lawyers per capita with 585 per 100,000 people. The USA was second with 396 per 100.000 people. That figure was three times the amount of lawyers per capita than Great Britain. The same report stated that the United States also had more of its citizens incarcerated than countries with heavy-handed dictatorships.
This fact was explained in very simple terms, “laws create law-breakers. More laws create more law-breakers.”
So for those of us who wonder why some of the decisions taken by the World sporting bodies make little or no sense, and are completely illogical, the same reasoning may apply. Too many administrators leads to over administration. The continual merry-go-round of jobs will continually see the ‘new staff’ trying to make their mark and enforcing change for the sake of change, not necessarily for the sake of the sport.
No wonder executing a long term vision is so hard. When 40% of those involved in coming up with that vision, and the way it will be implemented will leave approximately two years after it has been rolled out. Take a look around your work place and consider the impact it would have if 40% of your staff left.
The question that needs to be answered is why do so many staff move on every four years?