Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wade Elliott and the importance of organization - are you on the bus?

I'm currently watching the Hull-Burnley game, and the commentators mentioned a story that I had not heard before, but which is presumably familiar to many soccer - I mean football - fans.

Today's game (10 April 2010) may help to decide whether Burnley is relegated from the English Premier League down to the Championship, but things were much different a year ago, when Burnley moved up TO the Premier League. Burnley got their ticket up via a game at Wembley Stadium against Sheffield United, and the hero of that game was Wade Elliott, who scored the winning goal that assured Burnley a place in the Premiership, and greatly increased revenue for the 2009-2010 season.

What's notable, however, is what happened just after the game ended. Here's what Chris Wheeler said a few months after the event:

Stumbling around a deserted Wembley Stadium in May looking for the players’ exit, Wade Elliott was about to discover that even a £60m ticket cannot guarantee you a seat on Burnley’s team bus.

‘They’d left me behind and taken all my gear so I didn’t have my wallet, my phone, anything,’ recalls Elliott, who had made the mistake of wandering across to the executive boxes after the Championship Play-off final in May to toast his winning goal with family and friends.

‘I think the lads were too busy having a disco on the bus. I had to scab a tenner off the guy who does the radio for BBC Lancashire to get the Tube back to the team hotel. I still owe the geezer.’

Yes, that's right - Elliott scored the winning goal in an important game for Burnley, and no one thought to make sure that he was on the bus.

Or perhaps some would blame Elliott for the mishap, since he put family before team. But even if that is the case, you'd think that someone on the team would have gone to congratulate Elliott...and then noticed that he wasn't there.

Organization is key in any sporting event, as this behind the scenes picture attests:

In many ways, hosting the NCAA D-II Central Regional men’s basketball tournament is second nature to Minnesota State athletic director Kevin Buisman.

He’s organized large-scale, high-profile tournaments a number of times before and this weekend’s affair is not much different. But while Buisman has the experience, a lot of details need to be taken care of before opening tipoff Saturday afternoon. It takes a number of qualified individuals to handle those details.

“This is not a one-person undertaking,” Buisman said this week. “It requires a lot of dedicated people to pull something like this off.

“We want the visiting teams and fans to leave town saying: ‘Hey, this was a well-run tournament. We had a real nice time in Mankato.’ If they’re not saying that, we haven’t done our jobs as well as we should have.”...

Among the big details that need to be taken care of finding hotel rooms for all the visitors. Buisman says he’s in constant contact with the Greater Mankato Convention and Visitors Bureau whenever he needs to line up lodging....

Among the other, smaller details, are lining up tournament hosts for each team, making sure ushers are available, hiring referees, putting together a tournament program, and much more. Numerous meetings take place to make sure the specifics are being handled.

You see the same type of organization in business, or even at the elementary school level. Let's say a class is taking a field trip, and, um, they take a bus to the field trip. There's usually someone - perhaps a teacher, perhaps the bus driver - who is responsible for counting the number of people on the bus and making sure it's the right count. Elementary school kids, you see, can't scab a tenner off a radio guy.

This just goes to show that you have to pay attention to detail - or if you're not paying attention to detail, that someone else is.
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