The Coming Revolution In Athletics

Henry Ford is largely regarded as the father of both the modern automobile and the modern assembly line. At peak production in the early 1920s, two million of his flagship Model Ts rolled out of his factories every year. His cars were cheaper, more reliable, and more rugged than his competitors' cars; he all but cornered the automobile market, and in the process he made himself a household name (and a mind-boggling fortune).But Henry Ford had nothing to do with the invention of the automobile. And he had nothing to do with the invention of the assembly line. What Ford did was different from invention: He predicted the transformative effect that automobiles were going to have on society, he recognized the power of the assembly line to produce goods quickly and efficiently, and he threw all of his efforts into combining the two technologies to position himself at the cutting edge of the coming revolution.What’s the coming revolution in athletics? Strategic investments in communication.“The biggest added value to our program has been getting all of the different staff members to work together. . .We are all more informed about exactly what is happening with each part of our program.”Take a look at Baylor, which recently wrapped up a $250 million renovation of their football stadium. What’s next? Renovating an aging communication infrastructure. Bart Byrd, Associate AD / Student-Athlete Services, told us, “As a department, we’ve been making big investments across the board. . . . We have great people and great facilities, and we’re happy to now make a focused investment in making sure everyone is working together as efficiently as possible.”We’ve seen the same thing at Oklahoma, which just closed out an exciting run for the College Football Playoff. When we spoke to the Oklahoma athletic department about their focus on efficient communication, Matt McMillen, Assistant AD, explained, “Competition at the top is tighter than ever, and you really cannot justify any behavior that wastes time—not for your coaches, your players, or your support staff. Tracking down and filling out paperwork, trying to figure out daily schedules, and having to follow up to make sure everyone's on the same page are all things that take up valuable time.”On their own communication investment, fellow College Football Playoff contender Clemson told us, “The biggest added value to our program has been getting all of the different staff members to work together. . . . We are all more informed about exactly what is happening with each part of our program.”And it’s not just at the schools. We talked to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship about how they’ve been working on improving communication during the tournament. “The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship has so many moving parts, from 68 participating teams to 14 host sites across the country,” said Ron English, director of the championship. Going into this year’s tournament, Ron says they're excited to “communicate and organize those moving parts cohesively while increasing internal efficiency.”The Mountain West Conference shared a similar focus. “Our fans have a fantastic time each year at our championships in March, but might not realize the full extent of man hours, resources, considerations, and preparations dedicated to organize such an event,” said Dan Butterly, Senior Associate Commissioner at the Mountain West. “Keeping everyone on the same page and communicating effectively and instantaneously is critical to running a smooth championship and providing a great experience to all Mountain West teams.”Why the focus on communication in every sphere of college athletics? The pace of the world demands it. “Today’s athletic departments need to be more agile than ever. What we’re all seeing outside of athletics—the need for instant communication and access to information—has made its way to the core of athletic operations,” said Danielle Josetti, Associate Athletic Director of Compliance at Marquette. This rings especially true when you consider that today’s generation of student athletes hasn’t lived in a world without the internet.Where does that leave you? The same revolutionary fervor that Henry Ford rode in the early 1900s is here. It’s palpable. That fact has never been clearer. New technology and newly developed communication infrastructure design are combining to change the way teams do business, and it's happening fast. The choice you have to make is whether you want to be up front, like Ford, or show up when everyone else's cars are already rolling off the assembly line.About the Author: As Founder and President, former Duke Football player Zach Maurides has revolutionized communication and information sharing for athletic organizations across the country. What began as Maurides’ class project during his sophomore year at Duke University in 2004 has become the industry leader with an impressive list over 800 current clients.

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