Welcome to the Sportkid Newsletter. My name is Bill Price. I am the founder and Chief Data Analyst for Sportkid Metrics, a startup that helps national sport associations develop grassroots sport programs through membership systems, athlete growth tracking, and sport performance results.
What this newsletter is about
Articles in The Sportkid Newsletter comment on factors affecting national sport development with an emphasis on how grassroots programs are the key to future elite performance.
The elite or high performance level of sport is well organized in most countries and the science and coaching techniques involved are available locally or easily acquired internationally. The grassroots level is another matter; it is often disorganized or doesn’t exist at all.
National governing bodies (NGBs) face several challenges when it comes to developing good grassroots programs:
The what-to-do is not clear. Unlike their high performance counterpart, a grassroots infrastructure cannot simply be copied from other countries. Cultural and social forces play a much larger role in development programs, especially if they have to be created from scratch.
The how-to-do-it may require major administrative changes in the NGB governance structures. While it is easy to administer high performance programs with limited staff and a small number of decision makers the same cannot be said for development programs, which may include hundreds of people — parents, coaches, and athletes — interested in building and improving the sport in their area who have to buy-in to NGB ideas and who will also expect to contribute to these ideas. Increasing a sport’s nationwide footprint almost always leads to some form of shared governance.
Given the way sport is administered in some countries, many among the top decision makers are former athletes and tend to run the sport the same way it was run when they were competing. Selling the need for organized and expanded grassroots programs may be a hard sell to those who excelled without them.
Good grassroots programs strengthen a country’s sport efforts and are always worth the time and expense spent on improvements. The Sportkid Newsletter comments on these and other issues related to developmental sport.
Sport is a social institution and is inevitably affected by social or cultural issues. The current Covid-19 pandemic is a good example. The intent of this newsletter will be to examine how these issues affect overall sport efforts.
NGBs need to understand how demographic forces shape their athlete pool. Who are the athletes? Where are they? How old are they? These are important questions the answers to which will inform grassroots planning. Evaluating development programs without this information is almost impossible.
Demographic metrics that affect sport include athlete retention, training age, sport and club growth, relative age, and a number of others, all of which can be known with simple data systems and sensible governance procedures.
If this kind of quant-like examination of sport interests you then the Sportkid Newsletter will deliver!
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