Archive for September, 2009

Pay for performance

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

We hear the phrase “pay for performance” a lot in the business world these days. The theory makes sense. If you perform well, you should be compensated more. It makes sense for professionals in sales and for bonuses in other industries.

I heard a story last night related to pay for performance that made my head explode. I was in Rosemount to speak to their youth basketball association parents meeting. After I spoke to a large group of parents about several rules that youth basketball parents and coaches often don’t know or understand, I met Steve Schuster, who is the Coach and Player Development Coordinator for Rosemount traveling basketball. He told me the story of a player who was actually paid money for each basket she made. Are you serious? If I recall correctly she was in sixth grade. I can’t think of anything worse to destroy the team concept than rewarding — or bribing, if you want to call that — your son or daughter for making a basket. “Hey Jenny, pass me the ball.” “I don’t want to. If I shoot and make a basket my mom will pay me a dollar.”

I have heard numerous youth sports parenting stories that make me cringe. Usually, its the ”premeditated” parent who will do anything to give their son or daughter an advantage over other players. I hope this parent doesn’t fall under this category. I want to think that this parent is just not very smart. But you never know.

Sixth grade basketball is no place to pay for performance. That kid is going to grow up with a warped sense of money and motivational issues. If you want to pay for performance, youth team sports is not the place to do it.  

Serena, double fault indeed

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Wanted to chime in on the Serena Williams outburst despite my tardiness. Most of the country knows about Serena’s tirade at a line judge during the U.S. Open semifinal match against Kim Clijsters. Serena was down one set and trailing 5-6 in the second set. In the decisive game, at 15-30, Serena was called for a double-fault on her second serve.

First things first, that was a terrible call. There are times in sports where you don’t call little meaningless fouls or violations when there was no advantage. In this case, its hard to tell watching the videotape if Serena even foot-faulted. She probably did and it would have been defensible to call on her first serve, but lets look at the situation. If she did violate, it was just barely. Secondly, it was a second serve in which she was just trying to spin it in the court. Thirdly, that call gave Serena’s opponent double-match point.

Let me provide an equialent scenario in the NBA. It’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Lakers are down two points with eight seconds left and Kobe has the ball. Pau Gasol stands in the lane for 3 1/4 seconds. Letter of the law, Gasol committed a violation. Any NBA official who would call that would probably be not allowed to ref the Finals again for five years.

Now, lets move on to Serena’s reaction. She walked over to the line judge and said, “If I could, I would stick this effing ball down your effing throat,” and she stuck her racket out and continued to yell at her. Because Serena smashed her racket after losing the first set, she was already given a warning. Due to the profane-laced outburst, she was penalized the next progression - one point. It just happened to be that point gave Clijsters the match, a unfortunate outcome that cheated the fans and Serena’s opponent, who went on to win the U.S.  Open title.

Following the match, Serena didn’t formally apologize for two days later in a statement most likely prepared by her handlers, and then went on Oprah to promote her book. If she said the same thing to an NBA ref that she said to the line judge, Serena would have been thrown out and suspended. Instead, she received a small fine and dent in her reputation.

Single-fault: Her poor sportsmanship
Double-fault: Failing to truthfully apologize on her own. If you need your handlers to tell you to apologize, it’s not genuine.