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Dr. Tommy Shavers: Part 2

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.

See Part One

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Coach Stew Robinson: Coaching the 21st Century Athlete

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.

 

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