Six Communications Lessons from the Sports Arena

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And no, we aren’t talking about Christmas (because that’s still over two months away). It’s that time of year when sports fans go crazy trying to decide which game they would rather watch! There’s lots to choose from – professional and college football every weekend, playoff baseball, and the start of hockey and basketball seasons to name a few.

While each sport has its own set of rules and teams wear different equipment and uniforms, all the players – no matter what their sport – seem to share similar experiences. Experiences that are not completely limited to the sports arena.

We realized some of the lessons these athletes learn on the field, court or rink are also lessons professionals encounter in the communications field.

1. There is no “I” in team.

Just as the players on a sports team learn to play as one to get the win, members of a marketing and communications team must figure out how to work well together to complete a project and achieve success. No matter what the position or industry, we all quickly realize we’re better together.

2. Each individual plays a different role to help the team thrive.

Just as coaches place their athletes into positions based on their talent and skills, managers identify their team members’ strengths and give them opportunities to shine. Effective leaders understand that a team is only as strong as its members, so assembling a group of diverse individuals with different abilities is a great approach.

3. The best team learns to adapt quickly when things go awry.

Just as athletes experience injuries that take them out of the game for an extended period of time, individuals may encounter obstacles like health issues, a death in the family, etc. that keep them from their work at the office. We all understand that sometimes life happens. And when it does, both sports and professional teams make some moves and adjust their plans accordingly so the job still gets done.

4. A strong team pushes forward even when they lose a valued member.

Just as athletes can be traded from one team to another before, during or after the season, professionals can leave companies to pursue other job opportunities at any time. Despite a change in the starting lineup, a sports team may bring in a new player to fill the void while a professional team might offer a promotion or divide the work among current team members.

5. One mistake won’t ruin your team’s entire game. Unless you let it.

Just as a sports team can lose momentum during the game when one member draws a penalty or causes an error, a brand can sometimes lose face due to negative publicity for instance. If both sports and communications teams handle a mistake the right way, however, they will only grow stronger rather than suffer a loss.

6. An experienced team understands that schedules can and will change.

Just as teams train longer and harder before a big game or deal with changes in their schedule due to bad weather, communications teams may have to work longer hours before a major pitch or drop everything else when a crisis situation needs handled. Though teams can and should prepare for different scenarios, they must also accept that they cannot control everything.

Next time you watch your favorite sports team take on its biggest rival, do more than just yell at the television or enjoy yummy game time snacks. You may find that some of the moves the team makes during the game can also be applied in your professional life. We’re pretty sure you’ll find more connections that you expect.