By: Brian Lewis, Secretary General of the T&T Olympic Committee. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the TTOC.
In all areas of national life people are looking for solutions that effect real and lasting change.
Sport is no exception. For many people, sport matters but their frustration is the feeling that outside of sport and with the exception of very few companies there is a lack of appreciation and understanding for the role that sport can play and in very many noteworthy instances—is playing in the life of young people. Sport is making a positive difference.
But yet, no one of significance outside of sport seems to be listening. The sport fraternity feels unloved, underappreciated and as if it is the black sheep of the family. To be honest it’s the same way those in the arts and culture feel but the focus here is on sport.
Talk to people in sport and the cry is money, the lack of it. My view has been well ventilated in this column. It’s not money that’s the problem. The lack of money is a symptom of a far deeper issue. In my view the deeper issue surrounds marketing, promotion, communication, creativity, innovation and adapting to the knowledge economy.
Within sport there needs to be a clear understanding of how do we create value? What value do the national sport organisations (NSOs) bring to the nation? How do we articulate that value? How do we communicate that value? How do we quantify, measure and evaluate that value?
Resource acquisition, in this case money, is driven by communication strategies that answer the core question: Why should I fund and support your organisation? The answer should be based on evidence but most NSOs fail to effectively communicate their success stories.
The challenge is to position the sport sector, inclusive of the NSOs as a trusted, brand leader with proven ways of creating value.
Colin Powell, former US Secretary of State, visited Africa in June 2001. During his visit he told African leaders who appealed to him for American investment dollars, that they needed to change their ways. Why?
Powell told them, “Money does not go where it will not be safe, where it will not draw a return, and where people are not confident.”
Powell further advised that it was the responsibilities of the leaders to create the environment that will build confidence and trust. The suggestion Powell offered was clear, it had to be proactive and from within. Moving forward meant acknowledging that the solution is within the leaders themselves.
It is important that when addressing problems and concerns that we go beneath the surface and address the underlying realities. It is a key success factor. What needs to be done? What can and should we be doing to make a difference?
We have to look below the surface.
NSOs are non profit, non governmental, volunteer based membership organisations. In reality, NSOs compete with other NGOs and nonprofit organisations for resources—financial and human.
It is a formidable challenge but one that can be overcome with hard listening and clarity of thought. The conversations and dialogue that the sport sector should engage in must embrace a different paradigm one that is based on self-belief and self-confidence that the problem and solution is not extrinsic.
NSOs must guard against muddling their key messages and mission.
Concrete steps must be made to keep message and mission foremost in the minds of stakeholders.
The primary difference between for-profit and non-profit organisations is that profit organisations look to maximise wealth, whereas non-profit organisations look to provide a greater good to society.
To my mind, spending time and it will not necessarily be easy, because there will be different views and perspectives, discussing, debating and coming up with an answer to the question “what is the value proposition of NSOs” will be time well spent.