When Assessing Athletes’ Talent; First, Understand Their Intangibles…

Athletic talent assessment is largely about dissecting and analyzing an athletes ‘sport specific’ intangible assets…which they have acquired, developed, and obviously exhibited, and their mental receptivity to strive for continuous improvement.

When talent managers (scouts, position specific coaches, etc.) assess – evaluate prospective players, irrespective of the sport…for potential transition to the collegiate level, there is substantial time, expense, and a multitude of (mental, physical, emotional, and execution) intangibles which are variously and repeatedly dissected, assessed, and monitored.

Many practitioners who personally conduct…and/or are variously engaged in prospective sports player (talent) assessment process, may be the first to admit some aspects (of an assessment) are subjective and get personal.  Part of which is due to ‘high school to college’ looking and recruiting’ now routinely commences very early, perhaps during freshman and sophomore years in high school.

Social media platforms have contributed to the…‘noticing, looking, assessing, and communicating’ with younger athletes easy and long term.

In a purely business context…being an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist, as I, translates to my attention being directed – driven largely to…

  • distinguishing and unraveling the three major categories of intangible assets which are applicable to every intangible asset intensive – dependant organization, i.e., intellectual, relationship, structural, and competitive capital, etc.
  • identifying current-future risks attendant to each asset relative to how particular risks are, can, or will be relevant – applicable.
  • this includes strategies to thwart-mitigate the materialization of risk likely risks, which, should they occur, can erode – undermine any assets’ contributory role, value, utility, and competitive advantage, etc.
  • describing viable strategies how key – relevant intangible assets can be further developed – enhanced to perform maximally in a designated contributory role – position, to add value, and generate (new) sources of revenue and competitive advantage.
  • specific monitoring of the assets’ contributory role, value, materiality, and new-subsequent risk (factors).

Assessing prospective players’ intangible assets for sports…again,
when athlete talent managers assess – evaluate players for say, transition from high school to the collegiate level, among other things, the process will endeavor to capture and dissect…

  • experientially aggregated (physical – mental) parameters of prospective players, presumably related to whether they are translatable to prospects’ new collegiate environment.
  • receptivity – responsiveness to sustained (physical – mental) preparation, development, and improvement translatable throughout a sports training, preparation, and playing season.
  • prospects’ (personal) intangibles assets, i.e., their intellectual, emotional, and physical attributes, character, leadership, probability of being a good teammate, and various on-field characteristics, ala field vision and sense of game, etc.

The intangibles can always be explained…whether the conversation – assessment occurs between a business consultant and business management team, or a collegiate recruiter and a head coach. but will you or they, know it when you see it?

The phrase ‘I know when I see it’ is a colloquial expression…which Wikipedia describes as one’s attempt to categorize an observable act and/or event. Such categorizations are (a.) often subjective, (b.) person – circumstance specific, (c.) lack agreeable-definable clarity, (d.) tend to appear more subjective than objective, but do (e.) include measurable performance parameters and distinctions.

The phrase ‘I know when I see it’, we assume…was famously applied in 1964 by Associate Justice Potter Stewart (SCOTUS) to describe his perspective (threshold) for obscenity in Jacabellis v. Ohio. Justice Stewart, in explaining why the material at issue (before the USSC) was not obscene, under the earlier Roth test, as argued by the claimants, and instead constituted protected speech not subject to censoring. In the Court’s opinion, Stewart wrote…

  • I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within the shorthand description of “hard-core pornography”, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But, I know it (obscenity) when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

Assessing the probability that the intangibles possessed and possibly developed…in the future by a player on and off the field of play, aside from prior tangible outcomes, represents varying levels and variables which can mitigate or exacerbate risk.

Assessing the probability of a sports prospect sustaining and enhancing their…previous successes that translate to future on and off the field of play success can, in part, be objectively assessed based on previous tangible outcomes achieved, i.e., throwing, catching, hitting, kicking, body building, etc.

I suspect Justice Stewart’s perspective of ‘I don’t know how to explain it (obscenity) but I know it when I see it’…is less applicable insofar as assessing sports talent. Particularly today, in light of metric-based methodologies for assessing players’ existing talent as a consistent or objective projection of their future success.

  • For example, we now routinely recognize wins, losses, speed, agility, touchdowns, and homeruns, etc., are contributory (collective, collaborative) manifestations of one’s intangible assets.

Yes, a players’ intangibles can contribute to (tangible) outcomes…but, it’s a players’ intangibles assets, and how, when, why, and where they choose to collectively integrate and apply them.

These intangible variables often make the difference…between a high school sports player being actively recruited or assessed to be less likely to succeed at a higher level of play, ala collegiate athleticism, irrespective of the tangible outcomes they may achieved – contributed to in high school.

Far less arguable, a significant factor responsible for a players’ intangible assets to more fully and consistently emerge…lies in their emotional intelligence. Not unlike many other sports player traits, emotional intelligence can be coachable when a player is receptive and allow them to improve, says Dr. John Sullivan, Clinical Sports Psychologist.

Defining – assessing prospective players’ emotional intelligence is another intangible…one definition of emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to (a.)  identify (their) emotions, (b.) manage those emotions, (c.) apply those emotions effectively, i.e., time, place, circumstance, i.e., interpersonal relationships and increase their situational awareness.

For professional athletes, possessing emotional intelligence and situational awareness…often translate to defining how and how well they may respond under the various stressors and pressures associated with pursuing and desire to be selected for – achieving professional sports status.

I suspect many know or have witnessed…athlete exhibitions of what we characterize as emotional intelligence, in various ways and, on various levels.

Through my lens, as an (business) intangible asset strategist and risk specialist… emotional intelligence truly runs the gamut. However, I avoid characterizing emotional intelligence as being personified by a single athletes’ or celebrities’ behavior, actions, or speech. Instead, I believe an athletes and a business leaders’ emotional intelligence is better described on a continuum, not terribly unlike the various processes I have developed to assess if or how a company utilizes its intangible assets.

Much as I do with businesses and clients…I think it is presumptuous to identify the ‘left, right, and middle points’ of an emotional intelligence (or, intangible asset) continuum as those expressed – exhibited on and off a field of play by individuals like John McEnroe (professional tennis) compared to Peyton Manning (professional football).

So, yes, when assessing a prospective players’ probability for a successful transition from collegiate to professional sports…one’s intelligence, as measured by their IQ (intelligent quotient) or GPA.  Either may appear as a relatively objective factor-metric, or, at least, a consideration. But, that numerical measurement provides little, if any insight to a player’s emotional intelligence which is often over-laid by their life’s variables.

There is no reason to assume talent management (player scouts)…consistently – objectively consider and/or attempt to measure (quantify, qualify) a prospective player’s emotional intelligence as a prospective (future) player.

I suspect one reason for this conundrum, as it should be…is the probability that some form of discrimination may-will ‘creep into any assessment.

On the other hand, there is ample evidence, that…collegiate and professional athletes alike, are routinely instructed – coached and contractually held responsible for matters regarding sports law, media appearances, and actions-behaviors on and off the field of play, etc.  Perhaps more so today, with each athletes actions – activities being routinely monitored and distributed with keystroke speed through global social media platforms.

…the person who elects not to read has little or no advantage over the person who cannot read! (Variously attributed to Samuel Clemens, and adapted by Michael D. Moberly.)

Michael D. Moberly St. Louis October 12, 2017  [email protected] the ‘Business Intangible Asset Blog’, since May 2006, 600+ published blog posts on all things intangible, where attention span, intangible assets, business realities, and solutions converge!

Readers are invited to explore other blog posts, published papers, position papers, video, and books at https://kpstrat.com/blog

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