There were other opinions too, expressed by former top athletes. Susie O'Neill says it was the work ethic. Shane Gould says science took precedence over people. Others that our sports science is not up scratch, some that many of our top Australian coaches are now coaching overseas. Kookaburra coach Ric Charlesworth said the lack of resources prevented him from engaging in situations that would have given them an additional edge.
But there is no voice in the Olympic movement as large and as influential as is John Coates and if he is the one claiming that its the top line sports administrators are in someway responsible 'as it were', then the spot light should be focused on them.
The first thing we should consider is the route of direct responsibility that might be traced back and forth between Olympic performance to the role of the top administrator.
Most Olympic sport organisations have a hierarchy that looks something like this –
Board of Directors and President
Sport Program Directors
High Performance Coaches
Team/Player Liaison - such as:
- Medical, Physios, Psychologists, Chaplains, Welfare,
Then there is another layer of responsibility that is some measure is equal with or has a greater influence upon the Olympic athlete:
Spouse, Partner, Children
Long time friends
Stylist and Dresser
Clearly from these lists, top administrators like all corporate entities primary responsibility is not to athletes, but the Board of Directors. The Board sets the ideology and the agenda, the CEO carries it out, and any half decent CEO will greatly influence that process.
In this, the CEO certainly has great input into the emphasis, enthusiasm, legitimacy and holistic nature of the organisation that takes in both direction and satisfaction of all concerned.
CEO's are like everyone else – there are those who have expertise is one or two disciplines in administration emphasises, rarely is there anyone who is superhuman and wonderfully gifted in them all – if they were, they'd be a local church Minister!
In some way, it is very much like the local church or mission. The leader has the capacity to inspire and engender remarkable capacities from their people as they themselves give two hundred percent. The 'calling' is the sacred ingredient.
Perhaps the ideal top sport administrator needs these types of capacities: a divine sense of 'calling' along with a well critiqued capacity of shrugging off masses of criticism. Ministers have these two ingredients down-pat!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html