My last post of 2010 was a retrospective on the successes I’ve encountered by engaging in social media. Although my year was extremely positive, it also opened my eyes to a disproportionate number of people assuming the position of experts in specific fields. What was most troublesome about this discovery is that certain folks not only provide weak advice and simply regurgitate what they may have picked up elsewhere, but also many of them have never even held a job in the area about which they are pontificating.
This, to me, is offensive and insulting (and I’m not someone who is easily offended). I can’t believe the number of people making statements as matters of fact, without having had a cup of coffee in the area they are speaking about. I’m not referring to professors who study for decades and get their PhD’s in a certain field (although, I still believe those educators who have actually worked in the industry of their expertise carry deeper precision to their insight than those who did not). I’m speaking about folks who read a few books on a subject and anoint themselves to be an “expert” or “guru”. The fact that they do this is a joke, and they only do so to self-promote and attend to their own agenda.
I have to specifically look to my own industry, sports business and marketing, although the self-described experts are rampant everywhere in social media. I want to focus on sports business and marketing, because that’s where my credibility lives. I have been in sports media and marketing for almost 25 years. I have held multiple jobs at all levels in this field; I started as a coffee fetcher and worked my way up to CMO and COO of professional sports teams. I think my track record speaks for itself. Sports business is in my DNA – so guess what? You can’t fool me in this particular area. If you want to be a hack, do so in another area, but stay out of the sports business, because we don’t want you here.
There are a bunch of folks who have never been in the industry who assume the position of expert, but there are also many folks who have been in the sports business since breakfast spouting off like they actually know what they are taking about. For you new folks at teams, leagues, sports agencies, and the like, it’s great that you are in the business. If you’re hard working and dedicated, we welcome you. Some of us even want to help make you better. But please, don’t think that just because you have worked in this industry for a short period of time that you actually know all the ins and outs of the sports business – you don’t. Unless you have done the work and proven yourself, don’t expect me to respect what comes out of your mouth, if you are positioning it as expert advice. Don’t take me the wrong way, if you have an idea or a concept or philosophical thought that is valid – I am listening. Just don’t entitle yourself in the process. Experience and track record will do that for you.
By the way, track record is equally as important as experience – maybe even more so. It’s pretty easy to expose those who have no experience and no track record, but there are plenty of veterans in the sports business with years and years of experience who have never actually accomplished anything or done anything to impact the industry in a positive way. Those frauds are more difficult to unearth, because they have their “time put in” to hide behind. But guess what? You can’t fool me or any other true experienced veterans.
So, folks in the sports business, whether you like it or not, there is a new sheriff in town; I am hell-bent on making sure that you do not provide bad advice or misdirection to people looking to find their way in the industry that I have served and loved for over two decades. Ok, I assume you’re not shaking in your boots right now – but you should know that I’m the least of your worries. Many other experienced sports business veterans are sick and tired of your shenanigans as well. I am just a catalyst, but I have talked to many professionals in the field who believe enough is enough. Once this band of sheriffs is assembled, all of the frauds, pretenders and posers will have no place to run and nowhere to hide.
Because of these discussions and discoveries, a true sports business vet and a man who is not afraid to speak his mind, JW Cannon (@cannonjw) and I have decided to create a forum for folks in the sports business to get advice and direction. Our hope is that other experienced pros with proven track records will embrace the concept and help us shout out, “bullshit” when the frauds pop up; or, just as important, help to support others in the industry, or those wanting to get into the industry, with solid direction and pertinent advice. We will begin this forum on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 8pm EST on Twitter by using the hashtag #sbchat. The chat will occur every Wednesday thereafter with varying topics and specialized expert guest hosts willing to share their wisdom and knowledge.
This is neither JW’s hashtag nor mine – it is for everyone interested in the sports business to grow and learn. We will be the conduit for topics, guest hosts, and direction that hopefully will capture what everyone would be interested in discussing and learning more about. But make no mistake, we will be policing it and the statements made, and we hope to give you the confidence to cry, “bullshit” when you hear it. We also hope that if you are interested in the sports business, you will participate and engage with us on #sbchat.
Before wrapping up, I want to mention that I considered calling out a few of these posers in this post, but decided to hold off for now and give everyone a fresh chance for transparency as we begin the New Year. That said, do take heed and look at this as fair warning, because the time has come for all of you posers to go. I will have no problem calling you out, with facts and substance, if you peddle your unsubstantiated propaganda and advice in the future. So pretenders, frauds and posers in the sports media and marketing business – BEWARE.