Death By Entitlement

 No matter if you are involved with business, education or athletics, you must surround yourself and your organization with hard workers who have a realistic view on their strengths and weaknesses and those who understand that entitlement is root of failure an organizations demise.

I was thinking about this as I watched last night’s episode of “The Profit” which involved an entrepreneur’s son who felt that he was owed a 10% equity stake in the company for no particular reason. It reminded me of a similar situation that occurred in my coaching career.

I once had a player come in to speak with my coaching staff about how they “deserved to play”. Keep in mind, that this was a freshman who had no real recourse for this statement and in the coaches eyes was uncoachable, lacked certain on the court skills and was not invested in their teammates (or the program’s) ultimate success.

What was the thought process behind this statement? 

I have an idea although it is most likely a mixture of factors and not just one lone piece. I imagine it is that this individual was spoiled/coddled by their parents (cruises, new car, etc.) and were never told “no” in any real sense. If I were to guess, they probably got “things” when the got an A on a paper or if they merely cleaned their room. 

The expectation was that they got something, instead of just doing something their best or the right way because that’s how it should be done 100% of the time. Their reward was a material item, not self pride in knowing they did the job the right way.

I don’t want to make this solely about parenting, because I still believe that each individual has a choice to make regarding if they will have an elitist/entitled attitude or not. However, this type of parenting, surely doesn’t help the child.

Moreover, in athletics especially when players are used to winning, either because they play in small high school leagues with minimal competition or AAU teams that play in low brackets and simply are more talented, constant success creates a climate where hard work and constant improvement is not really that important. The mentality of “if I work hard we will win by 25 and if I don’t we will win by 15” eventually catches up to the student-athletes in athletics, education and life.

As one can imagine, I chuckled (on the inside) when I heard “I deserved to play” thought process. I was quick to point out that “nobody deserves to play and that this program is a meritocracy and I play those players who can help our team be successful. Not one minute more or one minute less.”

Coaches must be weary of having ANY players in their program that “deserve” minutes, to start, be the leading scored, etc. One leads to two, and two leads to three, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

As the head coach, I try to instill that nobody is bigger than the program by doing ALL OF THE LITTLE THINGS to show (not say!) that not even I am above the program. Carrying uniforms, gear, sweeping the gym floor, etc. are all “menial” tasks for some head coaches, but to me it shows my players that if I can do the daily tasks and pay attention to the details, they can too.

It’s about work and success not image and attitude.

Leaders must address this behavior immediately, especially if coaches are taking over a new program and did not get to build relationships with player(s) during the recruiting process. If the player(s) cannot change their mindset coaches will be doomed to DEATH BY ENTITLEMENT or coaches will have to remove them from the program.

This is the only way to lay the foundation for building a true championship culture.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo



Make “Black Monday” Mandatory for All Sports

“Black Monday” is the term used for the first Monday after the NFL regular season concludes, which marks the start of firing/replacing NFL coaching staffs and front office executives.

Maybe it should be called “Black Sunday” or “Black Monday Eve” since the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers fired their head coaches last evening and beat the crowd.

Nevertheless, as the week unfolds, it is expected that the Colts, Eagles, Dolphins, and Titans will name new head coaches/executives and it is rumored that the Giants and Saints may also make moves.

Before discussing the value of Black Monday, with potentially eight to ten coaching staff moves, let us not forget the families that this affects. IT IS NOT JUST THE COACHES, but their FAMILIES too: wives, children, extended family. It is an emotionally tough time for all involved. Getting to the top of your profession only to be fired and out of the game, temporarily or permanently, is a huge disappointment and takes lots of soul searching for families to maintain their perseverance and faith in the harsh climate of professional and college athletics.

In saying that, let’s ask the value of Black Monday as a useful tool in filling job searhes. Why do other sports not have a Black Monday of their own? Think about it does MLB? NBA? NHL? College football? College basketball? No they don’t.

Does Black Monday have a purpose or is it just another genius marketing tactic employed by the NFL to dominate media coverage on another day that is not Sunday?

I think that there is some merit to both.

In certain regards, it would make those making coaches lives in those sports easier to know the unofficial start of the job opening process. Coaches could tap into social networks, prepare for interviews, contact potential candidates for building a coaching staff. In addition, those who get released get can quickly try to land another position without much time off.

Having a Black Monday is harsh but maybe it would get coaches on the same basic contract dates so it would help to curb the continuous slew of openings, especially in college athletics on a yearly basis. It might just take some of the guess work out of jobs that may or may not be open.

Conversely, it is also hard to argue that the NFL is a media superpower and that the creation of Black Monday is another way for their franchises to boost moral after a disappointing season and the NFL to remain in the forefront of their fans’ minds and consume another day of coverage.

Either way, I think that the other major sports and college athletics should consider organizing similar days so that families getting hired or fired can prepare for the changes that area about to occur in their lives. It would make the transition process much smoother and more organized.

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo


Who You Must Work For

All coaches MUST work for an athletic director/administration:

  1. Who has a long-term vision
  2. Who sets high expectations
  3. Who will hold you and your program to these expectations
  4. Will support you and your program with resources and positive energy to achieve these expectations

Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo