Understanding the Value of an Athlete Management System
As September approaches and students return to school, 1,098 colleges and universities throughout the United States are faced with a slew of novel questions regarding how their campus will adapt and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Amongst those questions is whether or not their nearly half a million college athletes will be able to compete in college athletics during the 2020-2021 school year.
Since March, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools have called off various athletic competitions to protect their student-athletes and staff from the coronavirus. From spring sports season being cut short and the monumental canceling of March Madness, NCAA’s Division I Basketball Championship tournament, to now the partial cancellation of fall sports (most notably the debates over college football), the NCAA and its 102 athletic conferences have been forced to adjust course. Luckily, the combination of its previously established smaller governing bodies and division-wide rules has allowed the NCAA to manage its athletes and competitions in the wake of the pandemic.
Athlete Management System
The NCAA is one (very) large Athlete Management System. From monitoring what substances athletes consume to limiting how to spend their free time, the NCAA has built a system that is the epitome of the term Athlete Management System.
By definition, an athlete management system is any system that collects, monitors, and analyses data from athletes in hopes to provide information that will allow athletes, coaches, or administrators to make data-driven decisions to maximize performance. This system can be very large and encompass many working parts, as in the case with the NCAA, or be very specific and technical, honing in on individual athletes’ biological data. Regardless of the scope, athletes a part of any athlete management system are being closely monitored and in-turn more easily managed.
The Structure of the NCAA
The structure of the NCAA and its system of managing athletes has made implementing the changes caused by Coronavirus easier than some other large organizations. To provide a sense of comparison, the number of athletes competing each year in NCAA sanction sports is greater than the number of individuals Starbucks, Home Depot, and UPS employed worldwide in 2019.
The NCAA is a member-led organization that creates, monitors and enforces rules and policies for college athletics. Their work allows nearly 20,000 teams to compete for 90 athletic championships for 24 sports across 3 divisions each year.
The goal of the NCAA is not to provide athletes the chance to compete, but rather to support the well-being and long-term success of their athletes. To accomplish this, they rely on the work of over 150 committees to establish both NCAA-wide and division-specific regulations.
How does the NCAA manage athletes?
To participate in an NCAA sponsored event an athlete must be deemed eligible. This eligibility is determined by a strict set of division-specific guidelines. Of the three divisions, Division 1 is the most well-known division, the most lucrative, and as a result, the most closely monitored. The NCAA’s hope that by setting strict guidelines athletes across member schools will be held to the same expectations, keep competition fair, and prevent any athlete from gaining an unfair advantage.
Even before an athlete steps foot on a college campus, the NCAA has regulations in place to manage who enters their system and at what time they do so. College coaches and high school athletes have specified dates when they can communicate via phone, email, or in person. If a program violates these recruiting dates the program can be deemed ineligible.
To be able to receive a scholarship and practice with a college team on day one, a high school student must earn at least a 2.0 GPA in their core courses and 1010 on the SAT. The athlete must also successfully graduate from high school, have completed 16 Core Courses, and be an amateur (not currently being paid for their athletic accomplishments.)
While in College
Once recruited and on a college campus, the NCAA continues to manage the actions of athletes and the programs they are a part of. While it would take quite a long time to mention all the ways athletes are managed within the NCAA, we will outline just a few:
- Amateurism: student-athletes may not be paid for their performance or likability
- Academics: student-athletes must enroll in a minimum number of credits and maintain a minimum GPA
- Practice Hours: teams must comply with the maximum number of practice hours allowed during various times of the competition year (in season, pre-season, off-season)
- Gambling: athletes are not permitted to bet money on any sport in which the NCAA conducts a collegiate competition
- Banned Substances: performance-enhancing drugs and other substances are strictly forbidden
If an athlete fails to comply with the above regulations (as well as many others that are not mentioned) he or she or may be deemed ineligible to practice, compete, or maintain their scholarship. This system that the NCAA has built manages athletes’ behavior and has trained athletes to do as they say. When people are inherently compliant, it makes implementing change much easier. Because athletes know they must comply with NCAA regulations to participate in a competition, they are much less resistant to change and more apt to follow regulations implemented to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Technical Athlete Management Systems
A growing number of NCAA programs are going one step further in managing student-athlete behavior through the use of more technical athlete management systems or athlete management software. These programs analyze everything from how an athlete sleeps and what they consume to specific performance metrics and soreness levels to provide trainers and coaches with advice on how an athlete should behave in order to maximize performance.
With a wealth of data, coaches can compare athletes to one another as well as see how the team is performing as a whole.
Extending the Athlete Management System
At Leaders of Evolution, we strongly identify with the goal of the NCAA, to support the well-being and long-term success of their athletes. In addition to the athlete management system the NCAA has put in place to protect student-athlete wellbeing during a competition, they also require all student-athletes to receive training about specific lifelong skills such as career readiness, leadership, and mental health.
To help NCAA programs do this, LoE believes that implementing an athlete management system to track these for off the field metrics can help colleges monitor how well they are preparing their athletes for life after athletics. With a fully-customizable platform and professionally designed online hub, we can help any program educate and manage their athletes.
If less than 2% of NCAA athletes become professionals, don’t you think we should dedicate the same level of care analyzing the skills they need to succeed after college as we do to performing in competition?
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