SCI serves as a resource center and provides a range of services to help manage risk and optimize performance in sports.
Conflict is inevitable. Our responses to it are what determine whether opportunity can follow or whether we simply incur the steep costs of a poor response.
This program supports organizational and individual goals through education, research, and service focusing in sports conflict. It is critical that the classroom connects closely to real world application to ensure that theory is understood both in the abstract and in its relevance today. The combination of sports management and sport and society through the lens of conflict management provides a strong interdisciplinary experience that impacts an underserved area of the sports industry. Every day, there is a sports conflict issue that makes national headlines. The untold stories and destructive costs to the business of sport far exceed those that constitute the tip of the iceberg.
SCI’s Founder, Joshua Gordon was previously the Director of the Competition Not Conflict (CNC project at the University of Oregon. In this capacity, the need and importance of a specialized practice in sports conflict become evident. The mission of optimizing performance on and off the field in sports through understanding, preventing, and resolving conflict is based on a number of high-impact projects and research at the youth, intercollegiate and professional levels.
Sport has been an important element of societies worldwide for centuries. It facilitates a space for communities to come together across divisions of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Sport imparts valuable skills and meaningful experience for everyone involved. The current climate of competitive sport is also riddled with costs. Destructive conflict has grown so commonplace that many athletes and supporters are willing to accept it as part of the game. We confuse competition with conflict, and many games are reduced from a societal benefit to an ego-driven fight to avoid defeat at all costs.
Sports conflict, at times, is part of the narrative that makes sports appealing. This unscripted drama can be the essence of sports, however, when destructive conflict occurs the legal, business, and performance costs it imposes upon administrators, coaches, athletes and supporters can be significant and counterproductive to the core mission of the organization.
It is important to understand the cost of a single episode of conflict in relationship to winning, dollars, career development, etc. The overall cost is dispersed among a number of stakeholders.
The cost to each stakeholder group may include (but is not limited to):
Administrators: Loss of revenue streams, loss of good will, brand damage, time, stress, liability, reputational damage, job termination
Coaches: Team losses, financial losses, job termination, damage to future career opportunities, reputational damage
Athletes: Sub-optimal on-field performance, suspension, premature end to athletic career, loss of scholarship, defamation, damage to future professional opportunities, damage to personal life, loss of product endorsements, criminal sentence
Supporters: Loss of good will, dignity and spirit in connection with “their” team’s performance or personal behavior; reputational damage
SCI’s core efforts, to date, include education, research, and service. This unique emphasis has received national attention from youth through professional sports organizations, as the destructive costs of conflict become better understood in the thriving sports industry. Whether it’s labor disputes, team dynamics, athlete behavior, fan misconduct, or any number of issues that arise, conflict management has become an essential core competency for ensuring success in this industry.