The professional sports world has not been lacking in controversial behavior patterns by their athletes in recent years. Personal issues can dramatically hurt the career and brand of individual athletes; examples of this include Mike Tyson and Kobe Bryant, who was acquitted in a sexual assault case. Confirmed bad behavior or a perception of such behavior can dramatically hinder the reputation and brand of those involved, their teams, leagues, sponsors, endorsement stakeholders, and entire industries. In a business context, according to studies, 63% of marketplace valuation is attributed to reputation.
This past Saturday, just after 2 am in the morning, Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent was driving at reported high speeds which resulted in an accident that killed is best friend and teammate Jerry Brown. With the complexities that exist in today’s business climate, which includes ever-changing resiliency dynamics, the issue of crisis planning and management is a must within an organization’s structure at every level. The changing environmental landscape and the immediate needs of stakeholders necessitates that today’s organizations have encompassing contingencies via crisis management planning, training and execution.
The Washington Post addressed the issue of crisis management and the Cowboy’s in the context of their new billion dollar plus facility and the implications of the team losing games. What is the crisis management plan involving an issue directly related to their team that literally involves life and death? Moreover, this is not the first instance of a situation like this recent tragedy within the Cowboys organization; former Dallas Cowboy, Dwayne Goodrich was involved in a hit and run accident in 2003 that ended the lives of two men and injured another.
These events, and many others like them, are extremely tragic at every level. The most forward thinking leaders do everything they can to protect their people, secure their assets, and strengthen their brand. However, even with the most comprehensive plans and training in place, people have to utilize the plan during the most critical times of need. According to the NFL, there are designated driver programs in place for athletes, but they must be used in order to be effective. Now, everyone is left wondering what can be done differently with hopes of avoiding a future tragedy.
Let’s hope everyone learns a valuable lesson as a result of the Jerry Brown tragedy – use the resources that are in-place, whether a professional athlete using a confidential car service or drunken teen who asks for a ride home from a weekend party. The truth is, a plan and its resources are only as good as those who are willing to execute it because at the end of the day, none of us escape personal and professional accountability.