Why you need to learn quickly about diversity before being a sports manager

by Christian Thibault


Diversity is a winner

Have you noticed how the truly diverse teams have been winning most of the trophies this year? And how the ticket sales have done well in those clubs who cater a safe environment for many different kinds of fans?

FC Liverpool, who's mens football team has just won the European Champions League and who's head coach, Jürgen Klopp, has taken a clear and very public stand against racism might serve as an example:

"Those people (racists) should not be a part of football, because football is an example for how different kinds of people can work together brilliantly. (..) Racists should be banned from the stadiums for life." - Jürgen Klopp

(See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPvzq50vTVY)

Jürgen Klopp on racism

Jürgen Klopp on racism

What is ´true´ diversity?

´Truly diverse´, what is meant by that? It means, not any grouping within the team being dominant. Here it is important to understand that within a heterogeneous team, a group made up by a third of it's members, is perceived as dominant. (Study more: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/sidaniuslab/publications) This perceived or real dominance will challenge other team members sense of belonging and equality and thus their motivation. They might feel excluded from information which is only shared within the dominant group. So at least here, those sports managers who say that sports is a mere mirror of society are actually right, even though this theory is otherwise used far too often as an easy excuse when things within sports have gone wrong.

Failures are expensive

Actually, it is amazing, how in a field as international and diverse as sports, crucial mistakes in those areas are being made by otherwise experienced sports leaders again and again. For example almost every football fan around the world still remembers the historical disaster of the German mens team during the World Championship in Russia 2018, being send home with only three points after the first round. The teams spirit was off balance when the federations and managements leadership had failed to swiftly handle a crisis concerning international and racist aspects around its creative mid-fielder Mezut Özil. They could have seen this crisis coming two years earlier, when similar attacks on their players had been made during the European Championships in 2016, involving star defender Jerome Boateng. (Read here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2018/08/28/ilkay-gundogan-defends-mesut-ozil-germany-racism-row-sparked/)

Meanwhile US Soccer is facing a crisis, involving sponsor relations turning sour, over the unequal pay for their women compared to the far less successful mens team. Read here: (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/14/sports/soccer/uswnt-equal-pay-ad.html)

Diversity is a winner

Diversity is a winner

Is sports a mirror of society?

Sports is an amazing world also, because despite being an international business, its biggest tournaments and competitions are played out between the federations of national states. In this sports is everything else than a mirror of society, since trade, business and communications have since long developed as international enterprises. Maybe sports is an important promotor of national identity, after all? Is there a need for that, maybe as a substitute for international warfare? And how can racism be avoided and diversity embraced in this framework?

There is a lot to learn!

Obviously there is a need to discuss and learn in the sports world. At the same time the rest of us can learn a lot from the experiences within sports and maybe can look at sports as a testing field.

By the way, the President of the German Football Federation was forced to resign soon after the 2018 World Championship. He made another mistake in the international sports arena by accepting an expensive gift by a foreign business man. This was the one mistake too much. (Read more about it: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/apr/02/german-fa-president-reinhard-grindel-resigns-watch)

Prepare yourself

There is a lot to learn in matters concerning intercultural communications, diversity management international business within sports and from sports. To help with that Nordic Diversity Trainers have developed the course "Intercultural Communications for Sports Managers. Its based on long term experience within sports and includes an interview with Champions League winner and 2x African Player of the year, Cynthia Uwak,

Check out the course here, tit comes with a full money back guarantee: https://www.udemy.com/intercultural-communication-for-sports-managers/