I hope the title didn’t scare you off because this is a really really important topic! I think the eschooltoday.com definition is very good: “An ecosystem includes all of the living things in a given area, interacting with each other, and also with their non-living environments.” Essentially, it is the entire environment around you and how everything works together to become symbiotic so each organism can flourish. Unfortunately, the EGOsystem is almost the exact opposite. It is the entire environment designed to serve ONE ORGANISM and ensure that that singular organism flourishes. Albeit – other organisms may also flourish or improve for a short period of time but that is a by-product not a function.
It is essential that the athletic director is the leading factor in creating an athletic ecosystem that is designed for the growth and development of every student-athlete and coach. When one organism is allowed to take more resources or has different rules of interaction with the ecosystem it becomes an EGOsystem. If one team has different rules or is governed differently or one (or more) coach(es) has more or less leniency than another, that environment is not designed with all organisms best interest in mind which creates a toxic EGOsystem.
The reason I mention the athletic directors first is that as a former AD I noticed quickly that the ECOsystem I put forth for the athletic department was immediately seen in some form or fashion in the teams within the department. One thing I noticed immediately was that my drive to continuing winning as the head football and wrestling coach spilled over into other programs. Although you may be asking why is that a bad thing? The reason was some of the coaches were now spending significantly more time on the coaching aspect of their job during school hours which as you know is a no-no.
When coaches are involved in an EGOsystem they feel empowered to win at all costs without concern for the well being of their athletes or the other teams around them. The singularity of purpose can be consuming. When the energy of winning starts to cover everything around it, it becomes suffocating and debilitating. Players best interests, the teams best interests and the programs best interests become a side note in the quest to get one more win or that elusive state championship.
Here are 7 Indicators that you have an EGOsystem:
1) Your coaches only challenge you on small items
2) You are always concerned with the next win
3) You have a retention problem in your program
4) You have a parent problem in your program
5) You have a communication problem in your program
6) You have an open door policy that doesn’t get used
7) You program has a “my way or the highway” approach to the athletes
If you have subscribed to the 7SecondCoach Video Newsletter there are in depth explanations of each of these 7 indicators and more discussion on this topic.
Be aware that a decade ago this type of program may have produced some pretty good teams, but times have changed. The hardest part of change is realizing that the need to change doesn’t mean you were doing anything wrong. Changing is a natural function of the world of sports. From the Power-I to Spread offenses, from Post Play to 5-Out offenses, from Singles & Doubles to Funk. In an ecosystem the environment adapts to the changes it faces for the survival of all organisms. It is critical that you acknowledge that the landscape of athletics has changed and adjustments must be made to see your program flourish!
If you would like to discuss what those changes look like and who they can be incorporated into your program reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.