Tag Archives: Crisis Management

ROC Race Sprints Past Shutdown

A couple of months ago, my friend and I decided we were going to run the ROC race in Brooklyn. The ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Course) is a 5K race held all over the nation that has different obstacles. From wrecking balls to water slides, this race has it all! We were super excited to run the race this upcoming weekend until the government decided to shut down.

The ROC race was being held at the Aviator Sports & Events Center, which is part of a national park. Since the government shutdown, all national parks have been temporarily closed, thus postponing this race. Obviously, race participants were not happy, myself included. Not only was I training for the race, but I also paid a decent amount of money to run. The ROC race understood all of this and responded in the best ways possible. Here are the couple of actions the race took to ensure all NYC race participants were happy:

roc-race1) Constant communication: The race has sent me at least six emails since the shutdown began. They provide detailed updates about the race, our registration and any other developments. Just this morning I received a reminder to not pick up our race packets since the race is postponed. Some may think it’s overkill, but I like being informed and updated.

2) Updates on all outlets: Not only have we gotten email communications, but the ROC race has done a great job of updating their website FAQs and posting on Facebook to keep everyone informed. Their Facebook updates are particularly helpful as it’s easier to read that on my iPHONE.

3) Contingency plans: The ROC race has been very intentional with their planning. They could not have possibly known the government was going to shut down and postpone their race. They have set deadlines and already secured the space for next weekend, in the hopes that the shutdown will be over by this coming Monday. They are also taking race set-up and participant notification into consideration: If the shutdown isn’t over by Monday (October 14), they will not run the race that upcoming weekend. They are not trying to rush and just get the race done. They care enough about their participants to make sure the experience and execution are flawless.

4) Listening skills: When the race was first postponed, runners had two options: Run the race on the new date or transfer registration to another ROC race in a different location or on a different date. Once that news got out, people reacted strongly and were upset that they couldn’t choose a refund instead of a registration transfer. Race leadership responded quickly and created two additional options: a complete refund or a registration transfer to a friend. This absolutely showed how the race is primarily concerned with their runners’ experience and are willing to change plans in order to accommodate more participants.

Overall, I think the ROC race handled a difficult situation really well. Of course, there are still unhappy participants and everyone still wishes the race would run this weekend. But, given the circumstances, race leadership dealt with this mini crisis in a positive and professional way.

Glee’s Major Misstep

For decades, television shows have mimicked real-life events. Shows for younger people are especially famous for doing this as to drive home a point and discuss current issues faced by adolescents. For the most part, this concept is a good one that can potentially teach kids valuable lessons. However, this past week’s episode of Fox’s hit television show, Glee took it one step too far.

All of us can vividly recall the tragic events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut a mere four months ago. Twenty six innocent lives were lost in a massacre shooting that should have never happened. In an attempt to raise awareness of gun violence and possible mental health issues, Glee’s latest musical showcase featured a cut and dry “school shooting.” There was not any back story or discussion after the event occurred. It seemed to be just thrown into the middle of an episode where it truly didn’t belong.

gleeThe Glee kids are in the choir room when suddenly a “pop pop” is heard and everyone is told to hide. The camera shoots empty hallways and then shows all the cast members safe and sound. In the end, Becky, a student at McKinley High School and reoccurring Glee character, relieves only to another teacher, that she brought a gun to school to protect herself. Becky has Down Syndrome and doesn’t feel prepared to take on the real world so she thought a gun could protect her. Her teacher and mentor, Sue Sylvester takes the gun from her when it accidentally goes off and causes alarm throughout the school. Sue also ends up taking the blame for the incident and is asked to leave McKinley.

This was not a school shooting but rather a false alarm that caused a bit of panic. After all of the recent events, in particularly in Newtown, having or showing a gun in a school is just not right. It is too soon, featured on a show that younger children watch. There was also no discussion about the incident, no set-up or follow-up. Viewers of all ages were left to draw their own conclusions.

Additionally, this episodes touches the very sensitive topic of mental illness. Becky is visibly scared to enter adulthood in the episode. While the fear is natural, I don’t know if putting a gun in her hands was the best way to deliver that message. Some of the shooters in recent events did have mental disabilities, but without any discuss or accountability, the message Glee was trying to send was lost.

I understand why an episode like this was featured on a show like Glee. The audience is young and impressionable; they might actually listen to singing high school students. But, the timing and delivery were off. If they would have waited longer and executed the episode with more intention, it might have worked. I am not an expert and do not have any experience in this area. However, sometimes it is not about the media or entertainment but about human emotions trumping everything else.

A clip from the episode is below. Take a look and share your thoughts.

College Sports in the Hot Seat

RUIf you’ve turned on the news or scrolled through your Twitter feed within the last week, you’ve heard about the Rutgers University Men’s Basketball coach who was fired because of his behavior during a video-taped practice. Coach Mike Rice was released from his duties as head basketball coach on April 3rd after being caught using abrasive language and physically abusing his players. Since then, Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was also released from Rutgers. It has been said that Pernetti knew of Rice’s inappropriate behavior.

Also making the headlines this week was the Auburn University football program, who committed several NCAA recruiting violations, paid their players and had players’ grades changed. A full report was completed by reporter Selena Roberts who detailed all of the infractions on her website.

It seems a day doesn’t pass where some college isn’t in the hot seat for a sports scandal. You can’t forget the fake girlfriend mess of Manti Te’o from Notre Dame or the booster club nightmare at the University of Miami. Of course, the most infamous of them all was the Penn State child abuse scandal involving Jerry Sandusky and Joe Paterno. The real question is why so many college sports scandals?

The possible answers are endless. People are more connected to the media. Athletes are treated more elite and therefore feel entitled and untouchable. Competition among teams has increased and translates into real dollars for both the players and the university. None of these are acceptable answers for the behavior we’ve seen from college athletes and administrators just within the last year.

Since it seems almost inevitable that some issue will arise within a college’s athletic program, everyonesocial media world involved has to be prepared for the worst. I am certainly no expert, but after watching these tragedies unfold, here are my tips for preparing for a college sports crisis:

1. Be Proactive: Communicate with your athletes the social media policies that are in place for your team and for the university. Don’t have a social media policy? I suggest you create one for your team because most of them are active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Even show them examples of what is appropriate versus what is not.

2. Discuss Hypotheticals: Take ten minutes of a team meeting each month to talk about the ‘what if’ situations that could happen to these athletes. Use case studies that have actually occurred. Make team members respond and evaluate what they say. This way, if a scandal does occur, the athletes will have a better idea of what to say and how to react.

3. Raise the Bar: While student athletes are an important part of a university, they are still students and human beings. Don’t make exceptions or excuses for them just because they need to play. It sets a bad example and makes the athletes think they can do what they want. By setting a higher standard for student athletes, they can become role models for the university.

Most schools have a crisis communication plan but coaches should talk to their teams about these issues as they happen in real-time. It might prevent further problems in the future. Why do you think there are so many scandals within college sports? Do you agree with my pieces of advice? Please share your thoughts.

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