Ron Stokes has been the expert analyst on the radio broadcasts of Ohio State basketball. Stokes also is the CEO and president of Three Leaf Productions, a Columbus-based printing, marketing, and advertising business. Mr. Stokes played basketball for Ohio State from 1981-85, served as a captain for two seasons, and was the team MVP and all-Big Ten as a senior. He ranks among the top six all-time for the Buckeyes in assists and steals, and in the top 25 in scoring. PPD Mag caught up with Mr. Stokes to talk about athletes and personal development.
PPD Mag: Why are athletes getting into so much trouble outside of sports?
Mr. Stokes: I quantify that things today were not around when I played. Social media and cell phones are a big issue. This generation of opposing fans has much more access to student athletes as well as professional athletes. The athletes personal business is more exposed and socially, the general public are now noticing a lot of the negative behavior athletes are exhibiting away from the sport.
Dr. Mark: How important is the male influence for the athlete?
Mr. Stokes: Having a positive influence during the developmental stages at home especially having the male influence or lack of influence plays a major role. I would add, not having a male in the household is an issue. Mom and grandma are great but having a male involved in the developmental process is in some ways a separator. Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of athletes getting into trouble and they happen to be African American athletes.
PPD Mag: What core element is missing from college and professional athletics?
Mr. Stokes: A person who is dedicated and focusing on working with athletes in an area of personal growth. At the moment we could see this person as a mentor. I think a mentor is someone that can give the kids something that they need, if someone who has had similar life experience that they can share with athletes, it can be useful to a kid. However, it is important to understand that, mentorship has a lot of responsibility and people attempting to fill that role need to understand all the components involved. More importantly, the mentee has to be able to accept the information and help which the mentor is providing. Its a two way street.
PPD Mag: Do you see a need for transitional support services for athletes?
Mr. Stokes: Yes, transitional support services are vitally important, unfortunately kids leave college ill-equipped in certain areas, they are thrown out and expected to survive in a number of areas and the transition is an ongoing process. I know some coaches help athletes but I also know some coaches that just don’t. I had mentors who taught me and prepared me for life. These were things that I couldn’t learn on the basketball court.
During a four or five year process it would be an extra bonus for the school to provide pre-transitional services. Once they leave the university, student athletes do not engage with the institution. Services should be in place allowing athletes to engage with the university. By that I mean, the institutions should have programs in place to support former athletes once they have completed or exhausted their eligibility, due to the amount of issues former athletes encounter.
PPD Mag: What are your three suggestions for student athletes?
- Write down your goals, short, medium and long term.
- Find 2 or 3 people in your goal areas and identify someone to include in your circle.
- Find mentors you can trust and believe in, stay close to them and act on what they tell you.
This interview was arranged by Jay Keys
Joe Asberry left the USA in 1991 to play international basketball and has not been back since. He has played in Switzerland, Japan, Germany, Finland and Luxembourg and to this day lives in Berlin. He is currently a social worker, who is an international guest speaker on drug prevention and sports motivation.
Dr. Mark: Why are your youtube videos so Hard Core?
Mr. Asberry: I try and just keep it real and its a rage. I really felt I was not treated fairly in the college system. I also think it stems from my experience at Pepperdine University where I was redshirted and then the next year they shipped me out! Now, I made mistakes, but I think they could have had someone on campus working with me on the issues I had. It was clear that I had a substance abuse problem back then as well as a lot of other guys on the team. I won’t name names, lol. The reason I am speaking after years is to show them they did not stop me from achieving my goal. I also want to help educate and inspire the next generation of ballers.
Dr. Mark: Playing basketball in Europe, what are the key issues athletes need to understand?
Mr. Asberry: One, off the court issues
Financial Issues: are you going to get your money on time or at all and most often players money is late.
Health Issues: Most teams have health coverage but I have heard too many stories of guys getting hurt and soon after, they are released from the club.
Social Issues: The club life will kill you and the women really, really are interested in you and I have seen guys get caught up in that and I was one of them but the social seen didn’t dictate my success. Some guys can handle it but some guys can’t.
Cultural Issues: Athletes coming abroad have to be willing to embrace the culture. The American culture is something they should leave in the USA, if not players never last on the international level.
Mr. Asberry: Two, on the court issues
Coaching and communication: some coaches don’t speak english and so it makes it tough to communicate in games.
Knowledge of the game of basketball: Many of the coaches don’t understand the game in the same manner that US coaches do.
Teammates: Most of the teammates will be envious of your journey through basketball development and the major factor is your American and most Americans playing abroad get all the attention.
Knowledge of the game of basketball: the international rules are different and the style of play is a bit more technical from a fundamental stand point. The USA has athletes on the court but many cant think the game. The international game involves a lot more thinking while playing as oppose to just playing.
Dr. Mark: Can we expect more, of Joe’s Basketball Diary in 2016?
Bet on it, LoL…..
Hire Ethics was created to support underrepresented college students. The majority of these students were completing their education but lacked the skills to obtain employment. Hire Ethics became that bridge between education and employment. After a few years in business, they realized that other populations were also lacking these same career management skills, particularly athletes. In 2016, a new division of Hire Ethics will be launched, “Hire Ethics Pro” dedicated to career, education & employment services for elite & professional athletes. Gregg Simmons is the Executive Director of Hire Ethics and agreed to talk to PPD Mag.
Dr. Mark: Is it difficult to prepare athletes for a career outside of athletics?
Mr. Simmons: I don’t believe it is difficult. I believe it becomes difficult when information is not available, when the discussion happens toward the end of their athletic career, and when there is a lack of support from their immediate circle.
Dr. Mark: Why is the transition to the career world difficult for athletes?
Mr. Simmons: Transition / change is difficult for most people, it becomes increasingly difficult for athletes because no one wants to talk about or plan for the inevitable, retiring or leaving their sport.
Dr. Mark: Can you tell us your thoughts on campus speakers who are former athletes?
Mr. Simmons: Athletes, like most people, like hearing from their own, so athletes are most receptive to listen to what former athletes have to say. The benefits occur when the message or the story is so unique or special that the athlete gain empathy or not a sense of “I can do that too.” The bigger issue is when a former athlete provides a good message but fails to provide or articulate a way for current athletes to be successful too (If that is the message from a former athlete). There should be next steps or “how to” incorporated within any presentation to benefit or help the athlete.
Dr. Mark: Why is personal development important to the athlete?
Mr. Simmons: The main reason is in the title of the question “Personal.” It has to be personal and athletes have to own it and be actively involved with their growth & development. The same effort and time they put into being the best athletes has to go into their personal development. Transition is inevitable, so preparing, training and getting ready for life after sports is important.
Dr. Mark: Do you believe people currently working with athletes have been properly trained to help athletes in the area of personal growth?
Mr. Simmons: I believe the majority of these people have not been trained properly. It’s widely believed that being a former athlete is the main criteria to work with or speak to other athletes, this should not be the case. A perfect example is when sport teams hire an All-World athlete as a head coach mainly due to their athletic success and they turn out to be an awful coach. Being a former athlete or an athletic administrator is a great hire if they have been properly trained.
Dr. Mark: How does the family effect the personal development of the athlete?
Mr. Simmons: Family and individuals in their immediate circle influence, shapes and effects the athlete’s decisions, reality, direction and growth. When an elite athlete transitions from sport so does everyone else in their family and immediate circle.
In my early youth I had to be a warrior just to survive in the concrete jungle. Then came Martial Arts where I learned to develop and harness my warrior spirit. Later I joined Uncle Sam’s Army where I trained and then trained others to divide and conquer. All that I cared about was winning at any cost. Now in my life I am trying hard to channel my warrior spirit into something constructive and peaceful.
Technology and Science are changing at breakneck speeds. Are you keeping up with the rise, or falling behind? All around you is information that can change your health, finances and social standing. It is in easy and accessible formats. So, there is really no excuse for not staying abreast. The time for excuses is obsolete but we must be careful.
We hold in our mist, in the guise of Social Media a tool for changing the collective consciousness and the world or for keeping us in limitation and towards self-destruction. We must all make an individual choice. Whatever you write, share or post on this powerful tool causes a change, ripple effect somewhere in the world. Therefore care should be taken at all times. Everything is connected. Seeds of negativity will only grow more of the same.
The personal pain I have grown through helped mold and shape me into the person that I am today. I’m not asking for more, but if more was to come my way I am more than ready for the lesson. Like everyone at sometime or another I have been tried in the fire. But I’m still here and growing.
One great understanding is that balance in all things is needed and that examples of that is around me waiting for my attention and comprehension. The greatest life lesson I have learned, I must take as much care of my physical body as I do my spiritual. I built up the temple not made of hands but allowed my body temple to slowly slip into stiffness and weakness. The Divine Creator gave me the insight to regain my balance. I am so thankful. Stay in balance.
Until next time
In the third part of a four part interview, Dr. Tommy Shavers gives us a better understanding of the athlete in the areas of Culture, Power and Sex based off his research. If you are working with athletes you should read this and share it.
How do we address the domestic violence and sexual assault problem in the culture of sports?
I will continue to come back to my hallmark statement; if you are unaware, then you are unprepared. The first part that is essential to addressing the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault in sports is accurate awareness on the issue. Being a college football player myself and being coached by one of the great defensive minds in football, our coach would always ask the question, “what do you see?” If we couldn’t accurately articulate what we were seeing on the field from our opponent, there was no way we could accurately prepare or respond to what we were up against. So it all starts with accurate awareness, does the sports industry really know what they are seeing when it comes to these areas. Currently they are not fully aware (which means to be accurately aware) of what they are up against with this issue.
In a research study I conducted with college football players, in which they talked about status, power, and sex; these athletes were unanimously clear that their status and social power as college football players was influencing their overall behavior as well as their sexual perspective, actions and behaviors with women. The things these young men stated during these interviews would bring chills to someone who is not aware that such a culture (which the kids didn’t create) exists. Listen, I lived the culture and I was a bit taken back by what I was hearing in these interviews. Most of them talked about entering into a world or culture they didn’t even know existed, where people (men and women) were willing and able to give them anything, just because of their status and influence as athletes. So in other words the way society began to treat these athletes changed (culture); which quickly in turn began to change them. Many of them admitted to being the focus of attention in high school, and they stated that it was at a whole different level in college. A unique issue that most may not understand about this culture is when it comes to sex. In this culture, most male athletes are pursued just as much for sex as they pursue sex. One player asked me a question, “what are you suppose to do when a beautiful, attractive girl wants to sleep with you; turn it down? That’s a hard thing to do; for one you look bad if you turn her down, and two who would want to turn that down?”
So for those who have lived in and experienced that culture, they know these things to be real and valid. Another thing that was emerging out of the study was that athletes are really polarized in the eyes of people socially (especially women). Some love them and want to be in their circle and others really don’t care for them and avoid them socially and relationally as much as possible. So what this creates is a generalized view of women by athletes because all the women that they engage with on a regular basis are women who are heavily influenced by their status and thus carry themselves or allow themselves to be treated in ways that other women who are not so enamored by athletes would carry themselves. As a result many athletes develop a dangerously false perception of women because of the culture of women they regularly engage with.
Now someone may want to jump on those statements as sexist or degrading of women, well before we can talk about how inappropriate such statements are, we must first ask are they true, and as unfortunate as it is, this is true. But it is not just about women. Everyone in their circles who are enamored with their status as athletes, treat them in such a way that this becomes the only world they know. I call it “living in a world of all green lights”. If this is the case, then what happens when such a person comes to a yellow or red light in their life? Well, yellow and red lights don’t exist in their life so they are unaware and thus unprepared to deal with yellow and red light realities of life. And the reality is yellow and red lights do exist for the rest of the world, which means that it is almost inevitable that the green light world will one day encounter a red light, catching up to the athlete and causing disastrous wreckage in their own lives and in the lives of those they’ve encountered. This is why this work is so important. We are trying to tell these kids to slow down and stop, when those things don’t practically exist in their world which makes them unaware that they really exist (for them) anywhere else in the world.
The last thing I say on that is this; the thing that surprised me the most about this study, was the reaction of the athletes after the interviews were concluded. I would ask each of the participants if they had any questions or anything additional they would like to add to the study. Unexpected to me was that the majority (I can’t recall one who wasn’t) were as surprised as I, about the realities that they were sharing about their own lives and the lives of others in this status power culture of sports. Many of them mentioned that they have never stopped and thought about their lives and actions in this way, they were use to just living in it, and it was normal for them, until they actually sat down and talked about it. Many of them seemed to be sobered and alarmed at their actions and the actions of others; now knowing how dangerously risky and abnormal their lives were. Many of them thanked me for opening their eyes to their own world. Think about that, they told me about their lives, all I did was ask if having status and power as an athlete affected them in anyway. But in the end, to them it was as if I had just made them (accurately) aware of their own lives in ways they had no idea. For example guys talk about sexual activity that in the eyes of most, would be viewed as gang rape. This didn’t hit them until they actually were made to look at their lives from an objective and not power influenced point of view. They are so accustomed to living on impulsive and desire that they rarely are taught to process things rationally and with awareness of the circumstances. But this is what all of the research on power tells us could happen to individuals like athletes. Their words were merely practical confirmation of what the research field has already learned and continues to discover when it comes to individuals with high levels of status and social power. This was why I realized that for most of these athletes, we expected them to rationally function in a world that’s not their norm and carry themselves in ways they rarely have to, in their normal daily lives as power individuals. Let me just add, this does not just go on in sports, but in all high profile, high power cultures. We see it with politicians, corporate executives, and sports leaders. We’ve seen it recently with law enforcement and the inability of some police officers to effectively handle having power. We see it in faith circles with the moral failures, behavioral abuses, and exploitation of people by ministers, pastors, and other church leaders. Some are aware and choose to use their status and power in appalling ways for their own corrupt desires. However, many are not this way; many have unfortunately inherited a culture that their character and conduct has adapted to.
Dr. Tommy Shavers is the president of Tommy Speak LLC., a speaking and consulting company which focuses on leadership, teamwork, communication, and personal development. He is also the co-founder of the Atlas Group Advisors. Dr. Shavers has been involved with helping athletes for decades which is why we consider him to be one of the few pioneers in the Personal Player Development industry. This is the second of a four part interview, it only gets better.
Do you believe very few people are out to help the athlete in the area of personal development?
I think there are very few people currently who are actually qualified to able to help athletes in this area. I believe there are very few truly qualified in this area because it’s never been a primary focus area of development for the athlete over the years. We have progressed over the years with the focus on athlete development. We started with athletic development, and then we moved to physical development, academic/educational and then mental/emotional/clinical. Today we are moving into the social/behavioral era of athlete development. It often takes some major issue to see that an area is lacking and in need of addressing. Today more than ever, behavioral risk management is becoming a primary factor in talent acquisition across industries. With the growth of a global and instantly connected society, organizations have to really invest in figuring out if a prospect can not only be an asset performance wise, but will they not be a liability socially– how do they handle life, how do they interact within the greater society, how are they developing as an overall person?
They also have to discover what is the social/personal/behavioral atmosphere of their organizational culture, and how can they best create culture of positive social, personal, and behavioral outcomes. Issues like domestic violence and sexual assault are examples of the social and behavioral era of athlete development now being the focal point of the sports world. So I believe this is the next evolution in the total development of today’s athlete for today’s sports organizations. In this fast and growing field; I can see social/personal/behavioral development becoming the foundational development criteria and focus of all major sports.
Coaches often say, the number one ability they look for in a player is availability. This couldn’t be truer in today’s sports world where a player’s behavior off the field has in some ways eclipsed their importance or value on the field. I believe most in the sports world want a solution, however just like with any new paradigm shift; someone has to pioneer this solution into reality. Individuals like yourself with the PPD Magazine and the work you do, myself, and a handful of other extremely qualified individuals are in the process of making that happen.
Who benefits from the college athletes participation in sports?
I think there are too many to name in this interview. For starters, we can refer to those gatekeepers I mentioned earlier. These individuals have monetary incentives tied to athlete participation. However, there are numerous other individuals and industries who indirectly benefit from athletes participating in sport.
Does society see athletes as products or people?
This one is kind of tricky because many in society treat athletes as products; making money and opportunities from their success. However, at the same time, they are expecting them to act like normal people. However, if you understand power cultures, this wouldn’t be surprising as individuals with power often dehumanize people and see them more as objects to use and leverage as oppose to individual to help and empower.
Can the domestic violence and sexual assault problems in sports be address the same way society is addressing domestic violence and sexual assault?
Great question. The answer is no and here’s why. The issue or question isn’t is this a sports issue or a societal issue as most have tried to make it out be. While we can admit that there is a general societal problem in these areas, the real question is are the causes for these issues the same in all walks of society? We know the answer to that is no. For example, there is crime in every city in our country, while this is a general societal problem, there is no such thing as a general societal solution. Each state, city, town has its own set of unique variables and factors that are necessary to understand if their goal is to address the crime in their particular community. What would work for one community would not work for another. This is the same when it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault in sports. Rather than focusing on it being a bigger societal issue, we have to discover what the unique factors are attributing to it in the context and culture of the sports community.
Anthony Eggleton has been training athletes for the past 30 years. You name it, High School, College All-Americans, NFL and Professional Basketball players have all worked under the tutelage of one of the most creative sports performance coaches in the country.
His strength training and off –court / field drills dramatically improve foot speed and agility, overall strength and optimal conditioning levels for all athletes. His expertise has allowed him to train players from around the country and abroad. He combines physical fitness with a emphasis on personal player development. PPD Mag has asked Ant (as he is called by many) to contribute his thoughts, opinions and theories on developing the athlete. We are calling this Anthony Eggleton: Mind, Body and Soul.
When I decided to become a prominent, word-class performance coach I searched the world for training methods and philosophy. Soviet Special Forces and Sambo Combat Training was one of the systems I was trained under. To this very day I take the time to stretch my ideas of training. It helps to have a great library of resources at my disposal.
I’m often asked how do you transform athletes? The answer is both complex and simple. I teach the athletes to fire/activate parts of the brain that eliminates self limiting thoughts. And how to activate/fire nerve plexus that control fine motor skills. The U.S. Super Soldier programs are doing similar things. Of course you wouldn’t know that if you just follow along on the training leash.
Have you ever looked at a glass of water and thought about how amazing it is. It can take on any shape. It can show itself in different forms. For thousands of years it has been used in religious rituals and even in the miraculous healing of disease. It is something very powerful when realized. Dr. Emoto has shown through his experiments that water is programmable by human thought. What he has done is scientifically proven ancient knowledge. What’s in it for you. You can pray, concentrate your thoughts into water for healing, rejuvenation or whatever you may desire. I personally use this method and I teach it to the students in my advanced group. I am bringing new science and spiritual science together.
The most complex machine in the physical world is the human body. It has no inherent limits. Any perceived limits are constructed from man’s lack of knowledge of who he really is.
Until next time
Dr. Tommy Shavers is the president of Tommy Speak LLC., a speaking and consulting company which focuses on leadership, teamwork, communication, and personal development. He is also the co-founder of the Atlas Group Advisors. Dr. Shavers is a published author, a member of the NeuroLeadership Institute, and a contributing author to Linked2Leadership, one of the nation’s top leadership blogs. Dr. Shavers has been involved with helping athletes for decades which is why we consider him to be one of the few pioneers in the Personal Player Development industry. He has created and brings a unique perspective to his areas of PPD expertise. He took the time out of his busy schedule to give PPD MAG a four part interview, this is a must read!
Dr. Mark: Tell us about Atlas Group Advisors and it’s purpose.
Dr. Shavers: Well, Atlas Group Advisors was recently founded by long time friend and high school alum Bobby McCray Jr. who played college ball at the University of Florida, was drafted in the NFL by the Jacksonville Jaguars and eventually won a Super Bowl as a key member of the New Orleans Saints Championship team. Bobby and I both attended Homestead Sr. High School where his father was the long time successful coach. His father Coach McCray Sr. was and still is a personal mentor and father figure to me. While Bobby was in the height of his professional playing career, I was being the nerd that I am and researching the behavior of influential people after my college career had ended at the University of Central Florida (Go Knights…Charge On!).
I really wanted to know why people began to behave differently when they acquired some new level of status, power, or influence. I was seeing it so vividly in the three of the main areas of my life at the time; sports, faith, and business. I was seeing people change and began to behave poorly, treat people poorly, and make horrible business decisions once they had this newly acquired influence. After Bobby finished playing, he realized that during his time, he had missed out on taking advantage of a lot of opportunities that could have benefited him long after football. He decided that he was going to focus on helping other athletes in the game avoid some of the practical pitfalls he had seen and experienced. When I found out we had this mutual passion for helping athletes, we merged our practical, professional, and educational experiences and expertise and started AGA. It was a perfect partnership and a seamless transition.
Atlas Group is a unique high profile consulting firm for individuals who live or work in high power cultures, and live high power lifestyles such as athletes, celebrities, politicians, law enforcements, and organizational leaders. At AGA when we refer to power we are referring to a level of influence and control someone has over others and resource. So, examples of power could be wealth, fame and notoriety, status, and authority. The name Atlas represents individuals who live their lives under the weight and expectations of the world while being expected to produce positive outcomes.
Our strategic, philosophical, and practical approach to consulting, life coaching, and behavior management are built on our understanding of the significant influence that power can have on power holders in the areas we refer to as their culture, character, and conduct. Many individuals are acquiring power and are unaware of its effect on their mindset and actions. And because they are unaware, they are also ill-equipped and unprepared to prevent some of the unwanted behaviors that can come from being what we refer to as HPI’s (High Profile/High Power) individuals. So our goal is to help our clients help themselves by equipping them with the resources and advisement to better manage and leverage being individuals of power and influence.
Dr. Mark: What is the problem with this generation of athletes?
Dr. Shavers: I know what I’m about to say may seem a bit long winded to some, but it is the best way to fully articulate what we see going on today with this sudden fame phenomenon. In the same way that the game has evolved; the culture around the game has evolved as well. From a societal perspective we are living in a time that is unlike any time before, where the average person can acquire the fame, wealth, and power of the kings of old; without the lineage, pedigree or preparation that came with it.
In the past, there were few ways individuals could acquire such power and influence. This kept high levels of power in the hands of a small few. This is not the case today. Today someone can go from the outhouse to the penthouse instantly with a tweet or an uploaded video (or lottery). While they may receive quick fame and notoriety; it rarely ever ends well when it comes to their actions and behavior.
The reality is, most people are not prepared mentally, emotionally, and most importantly socially, to handle being powerful people living in a power culture. This is what often happens with today’s athlete.
Many of the athletes today (who are minorities by the way) are often unaware and unprepared to become individuals of such high status, power, and influence. What makes the situation more challenging is that these young athletes often come from very power deficient cultures, where they have little to no power in the form of wealth, fame, and status. They are often depraved of opportunities in pursue of achieve their wants and goals. So when they become big time athletes (as early as youth ball), they begin to experience the newly found intoxication of having status and power. At this point the world that was once closed to them in every way now is catering to their every need; providing them with pretty much whatever their hearts can imagine. So these kids leave one un-normal culture and are placed within another un-normal culture, and are expected to do what…act normal.
This is a difficult reality and unfortunately many athletes have fallen victims to their own culture while creating victims as a result of their actions. You see what’s normal behavior in a power culture, isn’t normal behavior in traditional culture. It’s when those two worlds collide we see what normal society calls poor and unacceptable behavior of athletes. If left unaddressed, it’s almost as if, the culture is setting the athlete up for eventual behavioral failure due to the unrealistic treatment they receive from individuals such as fans, women, coaches, money people, friends, teachers, and others who are enamored with them and their status.
What many fail to understand is that the behaviors we are finding appalling and unacceptable; this has been normal behavior in their culture for years. As one athlete said to me during a research study, “we didn’t create the culture, it was already here when we got here.
Dr. Mark: Who are the gatekeepers, in athletics?
Dr. Shavers: Ok, so I see the gatekeepers as the individuals who have a direct influence over the athlete and have a responsibility for seeing them have positive outcomes personally and professionally. So who are the gatekeepers; they are the sports agent, the money managers, financial advisors, coaches, and management. My thoughts about these gatekeepers are not real favorable in general. Now I know there are some good people in the list I just mentioned, however, for the most part, I haven’t seen these individuals take responsibility for the outcomes of these athletes. I know some will say that they are their own people and should be responsible for themselves. Here’s my thought to that…
First most of these athletes are kids when they enter into the hands of these gatekeepers. They are not experienced, mature, or knowledgeable on how to live the life of a high profile athlete. We keep hearing about athletes ending up broke right; my question to you is at what point did they ever become financially savvy? At one point did they ever learn to manage millions? Never! Just a few months prior, they could barely afford a dollar menu meal.
But yet society keeps saying, these guys are stupid, reckless, deserving of their misfortunes. I disagree, I am wondering how does someone who doesn’t know about managing money, lose it all while having professional money managers.
This isn’t an issue of guys going broke, this is an issue of unprepared athletes being exploited by people who get away clean with little or no accountability for their actions. So I think that the individuals that have such high investments in these athletes should be obligated to better manage all aspects of the athletes’ life and face some of sort of repercussions for not doing so responsibly. There has to be more of an accountability incentive on these gatekeepers to make them care more about the outcome and wellbeing of the athlete.
Read part 2 next week.
Coaching the 21st century athlete is much more complicated than one might imagine. We caught up with Stew Robinson to get his perspective on the politics, athlete behavior and needs of coaches outside of the game
PPD Mag: Do you believe athletes need assistance transitioning when they exhaust their eligibility?
Coach Robinson: Yes. The main reason is that they have been programmed to perform in a certain sport since they began playing competitively. They have strived to reach an ultimate goal in going to college or playing professionally without really looking at other alternatives to making a living. Even if they do achieve their goal, most aren’t prepared to go in to another career for the next phase of their life. For example, in my own experience as a college level athlete, when my eligibility was exhausted there was no counseling from the University for the next phase of where I wanted to go with my life.
I believe if there had been some assistance it would have saved me several years trying to figure out what I ultimately wanted to do and how to go about doing it.
I instead had a variety of jobs I had no passion for and ultimately started my coaching career at a very late age. I would argue the current model is very similar to the model implemented when I competed.
PPD Mag: Do coaches require the same type of assistance when they are fired from a job?
Coach Robinson: Yes, especially the assistant coaches or any head coaches that can’t afford an agent. Having a person in your corner and going through your career with you can really help you plan and be prepared for your next job. This person is able to show you all the options available whether it is another coaching position or any other options that you may be interested in. For myself, being in that position currently, having someone on a daily basis with ideas and connections would be beneficial in helping me land my next coaching position or another job of interest.
PPD Mag: How much politics are involved in college coaching and is it sometimes a good thing or always bad?
Coach Robinson: There are a lot of politics in college coaching. It is a really good thing when you have a friend in a hiring position that can give you an opportunity over a more qualified person. It can also be bad when you know you are the more qualified candidate and you are looked over due to politics. For example, often times an AAU coach will be given a position they are not qualified for but have a player they will commit to bringing to that particular program.
PPD Mag: Should a personal player development specialist be part of the teams coaching staff?
Coach Robinson: Yes a specialist is needed for every team or at least one individual for every athletic department. It is important they interact with the student athletes on an everyday basis from the time of the arrival to campus to their departure from campus. This helps the specialist get a good understanding of each individual athlete’s interests, skills and personality in order to provide the help needed after graduation. A personal player development specialist is a full time job. The emergence of social media and having to monitoring what each athlete is putting out there is one aspect a specialist should assist athletes with. Student athletes today need individual attention in order to maintain and develop personal growth but also to develop and protect the athlete’s reputation but the university’s reputation as well.