What have we learned from the latest Little League scandal, other than that they seem to have one of these every decade? In 1992, the Zamboanga, Philippines team used several players who lived outside its district or were overage. In 2001, a team from The Bronx, N.Y.,that finished third forfeited its games after pitcher Danny Almonte was revealed to be overage.
And earlier this week, Little League International stripped the 2014 U.S. title from Jackie Robinson West in Chicago. Two months after investigating and not finding sufficient evidence that the team recruited players from outside its sanctioned boundaries, the association said new evidence came to light that reversed its conclusion: Yes, it now had believed that Jackie Robinson West did cheat, which set into motion the forfeiture of the title and much hand-wringing in the public.
I don’t have anything to add about the apparent wrong-doing, but there is a great lesson for any influencer athlete if you sort through the hand-wringing. What’s the common thread in the four quotes below? And believe me, I could have made it eight quotes, or two dozen:
“No one ever reached out and called for a parent meeting to let us know that this was taking place, or that this was even on the table to take place. It’s just outright disrespectful.”
Venisa Green, parent of a Jackie Robinson West player
“Is this about boundaries or race?”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson
“I don’t care what nobody says, those boys played their hearts out and deserved everything they earned.”
Carol Thomas, neighbor and fan of the team
“Reverse your decision unless you are willing to investigate all of the 16 teams [who were finalists in the Little League World Series] the way you investigated this team.”
The Rev. Michael Flagler
Let me put on my PR hat for a minute (by day, I use my secret identity Cliff Glickman, Corporate Communications Guy). The common thread is that nobody acknowledged that the team did something wrong. And that failure torpedoes any defense you want to make of the team.
For every wrongdoing, there are a half-dozen great excuses. Everybody else was cheating. They didn’t know they were doing something wrong. The punishment didn’t fit the crime. It’s not really that bad when you look at it from this or that angle.
I don’t mean to poo-poo all of these excuses. Some of them are convincing; not every crime is a Crime.
But before you launch into your defense, you must – absolutely must – acknowledge that you did something wrong and apologize for it. Disinterested observers – those are the ones without a dog in the fight – are not going to be persuaded by any defense until you say you’re sorry. And mean it, by the way.
What’s this have to do with you, the influencer? Well, if you have a few thousand people following you, one day they’re going to catch doing something you’re not proud of. It might be as tame as contradicting yourself: Three years ago, you said Brand X was your favorite nutritional supplement; now you’re saying it’s Brand Y. It might be more serious.
When that happens, don’t forget the lesson of Jackie Robinson West.
Now, if you’re falsely accused of something, that’s a different story. If a follower says you did something and you didn’t, it’s OK to say so. Add whatever support you can to your denial, (“Yes, I really did run a sub-3 hour marathon, and here’s a link to the race results”) and try to treat your accuser with as much kindness as you can muster. Even if she’s a lying snake, you’re not going to convince your followers of that by saying so.
But if you’re guilty … Before you get to the reasons why you did it, or why it’s not a big deal, say you’re sorry. And mean it.
Kate Kaye wrote a great piece for Ad Age on Ole Miss planting sophisticated tracking devices at its baseball stadium and other low-revenue-sport venues.
Ole Miss is the first Southeast Conference school to use mobile tracking beacons, which have become popular in major sports stadiums and arenas. The beacons pick up signals from mobile devices that have the Ole Miss loyalty program app. So they can show, in real time, where people are collecting and how long they’re staying there.
So if a line to a concession stand or bathroom gets too long, the staff can do something about it before the problem gets out of hand, redirecting people to other locations or sending extra help. The beacon program is another benefit for the loyalty program, which provides redeemable points and helps drive attendance to sporting events.
As an athlete influencer, you might not need or have access to mobile tracking devices. So what do you do to track the people attending your event? And by “event,” I mean anything from your next triathlon to your next tweet or blog post.
This isn’t a “tips” column. Maybe we’ll tackle that tracking question down the road. But I can offer one concrete thought here: In your search for the latest and greatest tools to track every twitch of a potential customer, don’t forget the 30,000-foot view. If you spend all your time on micro movements, you can miss the big trends.
The Pew Research Center is just one good source for trend information. You can pick a topic here. Here’s a peak at the group’s study last year of Millennials reaching adulthood:
Latest posts by Cliff Glickman (see all)
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