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CSL Daily

January 28, 2015

Faculty Forum- “Deflategate” Leads to Bigger Sports Question

by Greg Greenhalgh, Ph.D.

It’s Super Bowl Week! How could I possibly write my Faculty Forum this week and not focus on The Big Game’? Over the past couple of weeks the football landscape has been taken over by the ominous ‘Deflategate’ and the Patriots unique offensive scheme, which led Coach Harbaugh to accuse the Patriots of deception. Is it cheating or is it greenhalghgamesmanship? Is there a difference? For a moment, lets just assume that the Patriots are only guilty of excessive gamesmanship. Interestingly, gamesmanship is defined as: the practice of winning a game or contest by doing things that seem unfair but that are not actually against the rules; or, the clever use of skills or tricks to succeed or do something. Gamesmanship is not in violation of the rules of the game, just in violation of the spirit of the game.

 

Is there anything wrong with using gamesmanship to gain an edge? Does it make a difference when we are viewing this from the lens of an NFL playoff game where there is so much at stake and often the difference between winning and losing is razor thin? Is this any different than taking an intentional foul at the end of a close basketball game, or taking a dive in soccer or hockey to try and draw a penalty when you opponent didn’t really do anything wrong? Some of these things are so socially acceptable as being “part of the game” that we don’t even question them. The fact we have the term a ‘good penalty’ is evidence of the prevalence of this activity in sport.

 

At what point in the athlete development process do we make a decision (subconsciously, I hope) that it is socially acceptable to cheat, err I mean engage in gamesmanship? Is there a certain age or a certain level of competitiveness when it becomes acceptable?
In preparation of Joe Ehrmann’s visit to the CSL on February 16th and 17th I have watched his TED Talk video and read some of what he has written. He stresses how powerful coaches are in the formation of athletes off the field. This isn’t a revelation. We have heard this before. All of us involved in sport know that good coaching is incredibly important, possibly more important for athlete’s development off the field than on the field. Whether it’s the way Joe frames his thoughts or the powerful manner in which he delivers them,  you get the point. 

 

 

Sport is incredibly powerful. The power of sport has been on full display for me over the past two days. Dr. LeCrom, Dr. Dwyer, and I have been interviewing candidates for Project PUSH. This initiative, created by Dr. LeCrom and funded by the U.S. State Department, is creating an exchange between coaches and sport administrators in South Africa and the United States. The purpose of the project is to use sport as a vehicle to address a variety of social issues in South Africa, such HIV/AIDS education, gender based-violence, drug use, education dropout, and gang activity.

 

My point is: with all of the great things sport can accomplish here in the U.S. and abroad, the current hot topic is Deflateagate. The hours of media attention this controversy has received are staggering, and not just via sports media outlets like ESPN. Just ask Dr. Dwyer’s Sociology class.  This topic has been covered by traditional news outlets due to the sociological implications of these actions. This controversy is truly a microcosm of the many short cuts we see in corporate America, education, and even personal relationships. Just think of the impact if just a fraction of this media coverage was spent on demonstrating all of the positives sport can do.
So, how do we change the landscape? How do we filter out the negative and embrace the positive? I have a couple of ideas.

  1. Be your own media filter.
    In our on-demand society, we are able to filter the media we consume. I am not suggesting that you put on your earmuffs and ignore all the negatives in the world and only absorb the positives. However, it is very easy for us to be selective in how we get our news, especially our sport news. If you are like many in the sport industry there are a few avenues in which you get most of your industry information. Social media is likely responsible for a lot of the content you consumer. I suggest you follow Twitter feeds that not only provide you with interesting content, but also those who promote the positive power of sport such as Sport for development, sport and sustainability, Coach for America.
  2. Become a distributor of positive sport content.
    We are arguably the most virtually social and least actually social society in history. This does provide an opportunity to be your own personal content source. Not only will this help us focus on the brighter side of sport, it will also likely brighten your day. We are what we consume.

I am not foolish enough to believe that these personal changes are going to inspire ESPN and CNN to stop focusing on the negative actions of athletes and organizations. However, this may help elevate the conversation about the positive impact of sport and enlighten more about projects like Project PUSH and the works Joe Ehrmann, which highlight the best attributes of sport.

Dr. Greg Greenhalgh is the director of student services and outreach for the Center for Sport Leadership.
You can reach him by email at gpgreenhalgh@vcu.edu.

Follow him on Twitter at @Greg_Greenhalgh

 

January 27, 2015

Legendary Coach Bobby Ross Talks Leadership

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Bobby Ross saw just about everything in a coaching career than spanned 43 years. Tuesday he shared many of those stories and his thoughts on leadership with CSL students.

 

The Richmond native talked about the lessons learned during his head coaching stints at The Citadel, Maryland and GA Tech, where he won a national championship in 1990.  Ross also reminisced about his first and only trip to the Super Bowl.  Twenty years ago this week, Ross led the San Diego Chargers into Super Bowl 29 against the San Francisco 49ers.  Ross’s Chargers fell short that day but he is grateful to coach in a game most only dream about.

We’ll be posting video of Coach Ross’s talk shortly.

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January 27, 2015

Alumni Profile-Jim McCarthy

By Cody Hatt, CSL graduate student

VCU’s Center for Sport Leadership has evolved tremendously from when current Towson University men’s basketball assistant coach Jim McCarthy (’07) completed the program as a distance learner nearly a decade ago. Still, while balancing his online curriculum with jim mccarthy 1real-world duties as a volunteer assistant at Yale and full-time staff member at Northeastern between 2004-2007, McCarthy personifies a young professional having benefitted immensely from the opportunity to add an applicable master’s degree to his resume while continuing to progress in his chosen field of college coaching.

“My experience in the CSL, while hugely valuable and rewarding in so many facets, was a bit different from most in that I took the vast majority of my courses online and I had a job in the field at the time as well,” McCarthy said. “Despite already knowing what I wanted to do, as opposed to using the program to explore my interests, the chance to obtain a master’s degree and round out my professional network with so many great relationships was something that helped me significantly moving forward.”

A Boston-area native, McCarthy completed his undergraduate degree in government from Hamilton College in 2001 after earning all-conference honors in men’s basketball and receiving the university’s Ned Doyle Award for leadership, athletic success and academic achievement. For the lifelong basketball enthusiast and athletic competitor, pursuing a career in coaching was something he identified early-on as an area in which he would best apply his greatest passion.

“For me, coaching presents such a unique, rewarding role in that it combines being a teacher, a parent, a friend and a sibling all rolled into one,” McCarthy said. “I’ve learned so many life lessons and experienced so many teachable moments through my time being around the game and really value the relationships I’ve been able to develop with players and fellow coaches.”

Similar to the premium he places on relationship-building within the context of his career in coaching, McCarthy derived tremendous value from his experiences working with and learning from an “extremely versatile” group of CSL instructors in subject areas ranging from media and marketing to compliance. For a young, aspiring volunteer coach at Yale looking to establish meaningful connections throughout the industry, individuals like Norwood Teague (current University of Minnesota director of athletics), Mike Burch, Gary Ness and Carrie LeCrom (current CSL executive director) were highly influential in laying a dynamic foundation for McCarthy’s professional profile.

“As a young coach not connected to a particular ‘tree,’ so to speak, the CSL was vital in rounding out my professional network,” McCarthy said. “My experiences in the program really provided me with an extended family of people I could contact and utilize as caring, qualified resources for future opportunities and exposed me to even further connections with relevant administrators in my field that are really important for young coaches to have.” jim mccarthy 2

In addition, McCarthy utilized his time in the program to help define and polish his coaching philosophy, a specific skill-set and approach that has proven ever-significant in his ongoing experiences with recruiting and working with players throughout his tenures at Yale, Northeastern and now Towson.

“I was challenged to come up with a particular perspective and set of beliefs that defined me as a coach and should serve as guidance for everything I did while representing my program and working with my guys,” McCarthy said. “I was able to develop an ‘eliminate why you lose’ approach that has been consistently effective, while really emphasizing character-based values such as discipline, unselfishness and enthusiasm.”

Overall, whether it is the lasting relationships he formed with instructors and related industry professionals, building versatility within his professional profile or developing a concise, applicable coaching philosophy, McCarthy’s benefits from the CSL culminated to far transcend his initial motivation of adding a credible master’s degree to his resume.

“The CSL gave me a complete education as a coach and a leader, with everything from building and maintaining relationships to organizing my coaching philosophy,” McCarthy said. “I truly feel ready for all facets of a program because of my experience with the CSL.”

January 27, 2015

Hat Tip Tuesday

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On Tuesdays, we offer a “tip of the hat” to current students and alumni who have been hired, promoted, recognized for outstanding achievement or embarked on new opportunities. 

Dru Henderson

Steven “Dru” Henderson (’15) has accepted the position of Premium Seating Sales Executive with the Washington Redskins.  Dru will be responsible for selling Club & Dream season ticket memberships while providing world-class customer service to current season ticket holders.  Currently enrolled in our full-time, on-campus program, Dru will be transitioning to our online program in order to complete his degree while embarking on this incredible professional opportunity with the Redskins.

kc regis

KC Regis (’10) has accepted a position with the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. KC will be planning fundraising events and initiatives for the 2015 season.  Most recently, KC was Special Events & Programs Manager for Avail Marketing in Richmond, Virginia. Her main responsibilities included account management, sponsor fulfillment and on-site activation for events such as the VCU Broad Street Mile.

aaron mehl

Aaron Mehl (’09) has accepted a position as the head strength and conditioning coach for Virginia State University’s football program.  Aaron also has experience working with strength & conditioning programs at VCU, Longwood & Liberty. Most recently, he was the president of SCCI, a consulting & placement business that specializes in strength & conditioning professionals.

January 26, 2015

Robinson on Winning the Super Bowl: “Something was still missing.”

A year ago, Michael Robinson was preparing for the biggest game of his football career. The Richmond native dreamed of playing in the Super Bowl and he was days from taking the field with his Seattle Seahawk teammates.

Robinson shared the experience with the CSL, a culmination of a long journey that took him from Richmond’s rough East End to the pinnacle of the sport. Still, he revealed to our students how he felt unfulfilled after the victory and ultimately discovered his post-football mission.

January 22, 2015

Super Bowl Champion Visits CSL

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A year ago at this time, Michael Robinson was preparing to play in the Super Bowl. Today, the Richmond native spoke with our graduate students about his journey from the rough East End to the peak of pro football.

A member of last year’s Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, Robinson chronicled his rise from Varina High School to Penn State to a nine year NFL career.  He shared his insight on the business side of the NFL and his motivation to plan for life after football after he had been cut by San Francisco.

Robinson currently works for the NFL Network and will be in Phoenix next week covering the Super Bowl.  While talked enthusiastically about his broadcasting career, he said his true passion is helping kids in his hometown through his Excel to Excellence Foundation and it’s signature program, Team Excel. 

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Stay tuned to CSL Daily for clips from today’s conversation with Michael Robinson