Posts Tagged ‘competition not conflict’

“Society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it” -Henry Thomas Buckle

One of the first times I spoke with Josh Gordon, director of Competition Not Conflict, we had a long conversation about my desired course of work. We exchanged thoughts on ‘athletes in crisis’ and the issue of crime in the NFL came up. Mr. Gordon discussed the loss of credibility of the NFL and its various players thanks to the high rate of crime amongst players of professional football teams. Although this post does not intend to ignore crimes committed by other athletes, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the NFL is overflowing with it.

“I am surprised at the way people seem to perceive me, and sometimes I read stories and hear things about me and I go “ugh.” I wouldn’t like her either. It’s so unlike what I think I am or what my friends think I am.” -Hillary Clinton

Public image is perhaps the most important thing for a professional athlete to think about promoting. After all, it’s obvious that this individual has the skills needed to get into the game. However, do they have the public savvy to stay there? This is probably the main reason I decided to pursue this very niche field. At the time, the University of Oregon was getting a lot of crap because some of the football team’s big names- Masoli, Blount, and James, were getting accused of starting fights, stealing, smoking, and abusing girlfriends. I myself, was as shocked as anyone else on campus. Here were good students and great athletes getting accused of these outrageous crimes- many of which turned out to be true. If you remember, Masoli actually ended up getting kicked off the team.
Generally, it’s not college athletes we see misbehaving- it’s professional athletes. Last year, Tiger Woods was discovered to have been having affairs with a number of other women. Just earlier this year, Brett Favresent pictures of his man parts to an NFL game host. Steroid use was really popular for a while, something that Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong could attest to. And athletes were also attracted to other kinds of sports… Michael Vick and dog fighting, for example.
And while I’m not supporting a free pass for any of these guys, sometimes I think that these crises could have been handled better.
For example, I remember watching how Woods’ PR team was handling (or not handling) the Tiger Woods episode and thinking that I wish I knew a better way to fix the problem. Sadly, it’s not an easy fix. It’s not like when an athlete is about to go pro, they have to take a class in college called Playing Sports and Dealing With the Real World 101. Although maybe they should…
This is where my desired career path and Competition Not Conflict merge. In my mind, I think that athletes should all get assigned to publicists or PR teams that are specifically trained in conflict resolution and even more so, get trained to handle conflict resolution with athletes specifically. Also, CNC is currently developing some conflict prevention programs for athletes, something that’s also maybe even more useful than conflict resolution or crisis management-type work.
Athletes must be taught, from a young age, that they are not invincible and that the rules of society do apply to them- maybe even more so than the average-Joe. After all, these men and women are role models to children and to society at large. Having a good public persona is essential to gaining and keeping strong advertising contracts (look at how many Woods lost when that whole fiasco went down). But athletes also owe it to themselves to maintain healthy and happy lives outside of their sports. Taking steroids has a huge effect on physical health, domestic issues have a huge effect on an athlete’s performance (again, Woods’ post affair interviews and performances can be examined), and getting involved in crime makes an athlete look like nothing more than an elite thug.
Sadly, there is no easy fix for this issue and we’ll be examining it in bits and pieces on this blog throughout the year. At the beginning of the term, I breakfasted with an old friend of mine on campus. She was asking me about my internship this year and I was explaining to her what exactly I wanted to do. An older couple at the table next to us interrupted me and we all launched into a long conversation about athletes and their accountability as citizens at both the college and professional level. At the end of the conversation, the woman took my hands and said, “I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing. Those guys need someone like you.” I can only hope I can live up to what I say I can.
Next week, we’ll start breaking some of this down. Let’s start by talking about crime and athletes. Until then, cheers.

It’s been a long time since I blogged (here thinking I’d have so much time this summer), but hey, I’ve been working and jump-starting my career in sports media by planning a totally fun and unique track and field event at none other than the University of Oregon’s famous Hayward field.

I started thinking that I wanted to get involved in sports PR around the same time as this opportunity practically fell into my inbox. Competition Not Conflict, a non-profit organization that’s part of the University of Oregon’s School of Law Dispute Resolution program, was hosting its first annual fundraising event to raise money for what they do- create ways to work through and prevent conflict in sports, whether it be between coaches and players, players and fans, or… well, whoever, really.

Considering it was a related field of work, I jumped right in and ended up as the PR Coordinator for the entire event. All I can say is it’s been great fun and awesome experience. But now, I’m sure you’re wondering exactly what the event is…

“A Night at the Races” will be the name for Competition Not Conflict’s primary annual fundraising event. It was inspired by the spirit of TrackTown, USA (Eugene’s nickname) and the glamour of horse racing. What I love most about the event is that it’s geared toward the community- meaning any one can spectate or participate. There will be great local vendors, great entertainment from UO Cheerleading team, and then of course, my debut singing the National Anthem (I just had a singing lesson today to get my voice back in shape).

I’m planning on continuing to work with Competition Not Conflict (CNC) throughout the remainder of the year, blogging for them and getting more experience in sports related PR. Look for me coming up on Fridays on the CNC blogging website shortly. And swing by if you’re in town Saturday evening. It’s “A Night at the Races” you surely won’t want to miss!