Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sports Business Savvy

You are inevitably going to work with some people during your career who don't have ANY sports business savvy. Some of them don't even have common sense. There are some people who are only in the position they're in because they like that sport and thought they'd get a job in that sport. They obviously had good interviewing skills, and someone went ahead and hired them. Admittedly, I've seen it more in the non-profit area than the for-profit area. Regardless, it will drive you crazy. It can also throw a monkey wrench into your day. You could have to drop everything and fix what someone else broke. It is probably one of my single biggest frustrations. The worst part is, I don't have any advice on the solution, but I want to make sure you understand that it will happen.

Here are some real-life examples that I've seen:

- UPS was a high level sponsor of an event and it was a renewal year. An administrative person completed edits to the contract for the event's sponsor rep, several versions of edits over a few weeks. Obviously the UPS name was in multiple places in the contract, including the mailing address. When she sent out the completed contract to UPS for signature, she sent it to them in a FedEx envelope. The UPS rep took the FedEx envelope, folded it in half, put it in a UPS envelope and sent it back. It took a lot to repair that relationship and save a six figure sponsorship.

- We created a new revenue stream for an organization. When the first monthly check came in from the vendor, the manager sent the check to the finance department. The controller for the company called to ask what it was. The manager explained that it was revenue from this new area. The controller said she would just put it in the department's budget. The manager tried to explain that it didn't go in a departmental operating budget, but the controller didn't get it. After hanging up the phone, the manager immediately told her own VP. The VP called the CFO (the controller's boss) and told the CFO that although he (the VP) would love to have the extra money in his department, it shouldn't be there. The CFO said he would correct it, then said that the controller didn't understand the difference between revenues and expenses.

- An event had both a water company and Gatorade as major sponsors. The medical director for that event was quoted (correctly, he admitted) in the New York Times saying that Gatorade is no better for participants than water. Gatorade's response: Then why the hell am I sponsoring your event? This organization also had to repair a major relationship. This was a situation that became a drop-everything-else-you're-doing- for-two-complete-days-to-repair-it situation for three of the highest level people in the organization. And it's not like their schedules weren't already jam packed. All this caused by a loose cannon who just a few months later did a complete 180 and supported what his medical colleagues around the world were saying, that isotonic drinks are actually better than water for that type of event.

- From the company lawyer: "Well the last person in your job used to just not tell me about it and then just hire a (third party marketing) company. Why do you need me to write a contract for these people? If you just don't tell me, then I don't know about it and I don't have to write a contract. But since you've told me I guess I have to write one." Well, maybe I would like you to write one for things like 1) making sure they know they must have "x" in insurance coverage and list us additional insured, or 2) making sure we have a non-performance clause in their contract in case they really botch part of their work, or any number of endless legal necessities in a very litigious society.

Hopefully it won't be something that you encounter very often, but be prepared for it and don't be surprised by anything. To quote Albert Einstein, "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."


Bryan said...

Too funny, Michelle!

I don't think I would have believed any of those stories a couple of years ago.

Michelle Wells said...

I couldn't make up fiction that good (or bad)! As you can testify, it happened. I have witnesses!