What is it that the 1991-1998 Chicago Bulls, 1993-1996 Dallas Cowboys, 2014-current Golden State Warriors, 2011-current Arizona Rattlers and the New York Yankees have in common besides championships? They created a culture that breeds championships by rewarding not only performance on the playing surface, but also made it rewarding to be a part of that franchise as a whole.
“We have to have a commonality and purpose. We have to understand that each of us is dependent on the success of the others in the organization to reach the goals we’re trying to accomplish. It’s never an easy thing.” -Rick Welts, President and COO of the Golden State Warriors speaking about the importance of off court culture.
See the Warriors built a culture of accountability, oftentimes we see in pop culture and maybe on our own sports teams how just one players ego can completely destroy any hopes of a championship. Yes, in sports we reward the most valuable players, but if you really think about what TRULY makes those players valuable, a lot of times you realize that they are not selfish and they focus on building up their teammates to their level of play. Notice the difference between the 2015 and 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, they tanked in the 2015 finals following the famous “i’m the best player in the world” speech from Lebron. Then the following year, they began to realize everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, in turn causing them to perform the greatest comeback in NBA finals history.
Sports are not numbers games, one can not predict the champion based off of numbers and averages. Why? That is because sports are played by humans, not robots. Numbers show the past results, but not the future. Humans are able to adapt and change based on their given situations. One example of this, is a team that was run completely based off of numbers, did not win a championship. People may have seen the movie called, Moneyball. The film is about the 2002 Oakland A’s, a team that needed a way to start filling seats and rebuild after losing a few of their star players. So they turn to analytics which wins them the division. However, the team that actually ended up winning the world series that year? The Anaheim Angels. A team that did not rely 100 percent off of pure numbers and who truly understood that there was a human element to the game.
So, what sort of things are needed to actually create championship culture?
Jeff Janssen, owner of the Janssen Sports Leadership Foundation and someone who also has a Masters in sport psychology, studied all of the historic championship franchises in all sports found six components.
- Credible Leaders
- This does not only apply to coaches, it applies to everyone who holds a leadership role in an organization. From managers to the CEO, there needs to be someone who can move on and take credit when there is a mistake. It is terrible to have a leader that tries to push on failures to everyone but themselves. Bad leaders, create losing seasons.
- Clear and Compelling Vision
- Yes, every teams ultimate goal is to win a championship. This component is more about buying into a vision, for a case study, please look into the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
- Core Values
- There is an old song that talks about, “If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Even in sports this rings true, in order to create culture, there must be non negotiable values.
- Standards of Behavior
- Duke Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski stated, “A major part of becoming a team is the establishment and collective acceptance of your standards, based on your team’s makeup and centered on your unique goal. Once a group of individuals formulates and agrees to their standards, they become united, single-minded in purpose.”
- Aligned Systems
- Jeff Janssen writes, “Championship Cultures create several specific systems for selection, enculturation, execution, evaluation, recognition, correction, and succession. All of these various systems are developed, tweaked, and perfected over time to promote and support the Vision, Values, and Standards of your program on a daily basis. By developing and aligning your systems, you build a sustainable, self-perpetuating, virtuous cycle that ensures you get, develop, and keep the right kind of people and practices within your culture.”
- Committed and Unified Team Members
- This one should be self-explanatory, if someone does not buy into the vision? They will not perform to their full potential.
These six traits can be seen through any championship organization. Is it important to have good players? Yes, but numbers do not tell the whole story, and sometimes players who are terrible in the club house, can kill championship hopes without even playing one down.
Note: Before I begin I want to add that this is an opinion article, also known as an editorial
March 27, 2017: the day that 31 NFL owners voted to uproot the Oakland Raiders, and allow the team to find a new home in Las Vegas. Sure, for the Raiders it may be a good option. They are moving to a territory that they would not have to share with anyone except an NHL team. One thing about the business of sports is that, yes, there is a massive business aspect to it; but it is not the same as any other industry. The difference is the fans. Sure, in other industries there are consumers and customers, but that is still different than fan bases in sports.
Fans are practically owners of the teams. Most of the revenue comes from things that fans do such as buy merchandise, food, tickets, etc… Over the past two years there have been three teams that have left the cities that they have played in (some for 50-plus years) in order to go someplace with a bigger market. Now if this were a restaurant or store, it makes sense. More population equals more potential clients/customers. However these are not stores, these are teams with history. These are teams that integrate into the communities and make a personal and lasting impact on each and every fan. There is a reason that fan bases become family and it is that shared bond and experiences of being a fan of a team.
When teams move, they do not realize they are hurting both the image of the organization as well as their fans. Imagine a business that would abandon its largest stakeholder instead of trying to please said stakeholder. The company’s brand may go up in value, but what is the point of an increase of the brand if there is no loyalty to said brand?
Moving away from a large source of money based upon the “chance” that you could double the current revenue is one of the most greedy business decisions a team could make. The only thing that an increase in brand will help is the cost of selling said franchise.
The NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, and NBA are a fan run industry. The reason that the sports industry is worth several hundred billion dollars, is mostly because of the amount of fans it draws. Being a fan is more than just liking this or liking that, being a fan is being a part of a community and supporting the team by spending money on gameday and on different things with the teams logo on it.
Why in the world ruin a good thing? Teams seem to think the way to earn more money is just to move to a bigger market. Maybe they are right in the short-term because since the Chargers moved they increased the value of the brand. However, they still have to play at a stadium that is meant for soccer with a low amount of seats. So even though the brand increased and the potential is there, the teams need to win a Super Bowl to make a “fan base” in Los Angeles. However, the owner doesn’t seem to care about championships.
In short, the NFL is going to feel the repercussions. It is hard to support teams that have a history of leaving. Maybe to begin with they will see an increase because of new markets in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. However, they will not see consistent revenue from the teams. With all of the rule changes and everything else, it is soon to be the NTFL (National Touch Football League) instead of the NFL, which would piss off a major target market in sports.
To the Indoor Football League we go!!! Go Rattlers.
No, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke.
On Wednesday, the San Diego Chargers made a signing that went largely unnoticed in the Chargers community, not to mention on a national level. The Bolts signed 6-foot-3, 225-pound quarterback Bryn Renner to their roster. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
I can almost hear the ‘Who is Bryn Renner?’ chorus from here…
Bryn Renner was a two-sport standout upon entering college at the University of North Carolina. Renner worked out for the New York Yankees during his freshman year before turning his focus solely to football. He became the starting quarterback for UNC in his sophomore season in 2011. In his three years as a starting quarterback, he became the third-leading passer in UNC history.
In 34 games at UNC, Renner went 668-1005 for 8,221 yards with 65 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. He completed his career with a 66% completion percentage and quarterback rating of 151.
A shoulder injury against N.C. State derailed his senior season after seven games. Subsequently, Renner went undrafted and signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. Renner was cut by Denver at the end of the preseason.
He would rebound by signing with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League in October 2014. Renner would win an ArenaBowl championship ring with the Rattlers that season, blowing out the Cleveland Gladiators, 72-32.
In January 2015, Renner was signed by the Baltimore Ravens, only to be released at the beginning of the regular season. Two days before Christmas, he was signed to the practice squad of the Tennessee Titans.
Now, Renner reunites with former Rattlers teammate and current Chargers guard Michael Huey in America’s Finest City. Hopefully his stay will be a long and fruitful one.
The Greg One
It seems as if the San Diego Chargers are still tweaking the offensive line with the addition of tackle, Chris Hairston. The fomer fourth rounder and Buffalo Bill was a restricted free agent who was not re-signed.
At 6-foot-6 and tipping the scales at 330 pounds, Hairston will be one more addition to the offenisve line depth chart. The extent of depth is extremely important for the unit considering the line was the most injured group last year. Additionally, Hairston is versatile and has played both the tackle and guard position. His bulky size and physicality are great possessions to have in pass protection or run blocking situations.
Just before Tom Telesco added Hairston, the Bolts signed Michael Huey, a former guard for the Arizona Rattlers. The offensive line is starting to look like they will be heading into a highly competitive training camp. With only a 53-man roster, men will be fighting for a playing spot.
The signing of Hairston reunites him with current Chargers offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris. He was also teammates with free agent aquisition and wide receiver Stevie Johnson for three seasons in Buffalo.
What do you think of Chris Hairston wearing lightning bolts? Let us know below.
Thanks and Bolt Up!
In a move that went largely unnoticed on Tuesday, the Chargers signed offensive guard Michael Huey. The 25-year old Huey is 6’5, 315 lbs. and has played for three seasons. All of Hueys’ three seasons have been in the Arena Football League playing for the Arizona Rattlers. He played for the Texas Longhorns in college, appearing in 47 games, 20 as a starter.
According to Arenafootball.com, Huey was first team All-Arena last season and in his rookie season in 2012. He was All-Arena second team in 2013. The Rattlers have won the Arena League championship all three seasons and Huey has started all but four games during Arizona’s dynastic championship string. Center Jeff Baca and nose tackle Chas Alecxih were waived by the Chargers to make room for Huey.
Huey’s signing adds depth to the offensive line overhaul GM Tom Telesco has undertaken this offseason. He started by resigning left tackle King Dunlap to a long-term deal then followed it up by poaching offensive guard Orlando Franklin from the Denver Broncos and inking him for five years. Include the two-year deal the Chargers gave to center Trevor Robinson and Huey becomes the fourth signing to the offensive line in a month.
Telesco knows protecting Philip Rivers is priority one and the Chargers were decimated all over the offensive line last season, especially at center. It’s better to have too many bodies ready to go than too few and too unprepared bodies. These signings should be encouraging to Chargers faithful hungry to see the Chargers return to the time they were perennial playoff favorites.
Huey was an attendee in the recent NFL Veterans Combine held in Phoenix during the week of the Owner’s Meetings. This isn’t Huey’s first look from an NFL team, he was on the Washington Redskins practice squad last season and was also on the Chargers practice squad in 2011. With the offensive line issue more dire now than it was then, he’ll get another shot to live his dream and help the Chargers solidify the line without having to mismatch players.
I like this signing a lot. Unlike other players who were at the Veterans Combine, Huey has not been out of the game for an extended amount of time. He’s been a durable offensive line mainstay for the reigning, defending three-time Arena League champions. Many will unwisely discount him for the fact that he’s from the Arena League.
Keep in mind they play at twice the speed the NFL does in the AFL. The number of plays are greater and time between plays are much less than in the NFL. An offensive lineman has to be in prime physical condition to handle that type of workload. The players aren’t any smaller than they are in the NFL and there isn’t that great a disparity in talent. The NFL wouldn’t invite these players if there was. Don’t be surprised if Telesco adds another name to the offensive line mix before the draft rolls around. In the meantime, welcome Mr. Huey to San Diego via twitter; @themichaelhuey.
The Greg One