One of the major factors militating against sports development in Nigeria today is the lack of effective management. Many solutions are being proffered by concerned and patriotic Nigerians daily to bail us out of the quagmire. One of such solutions is this text entitled “Modern Trends in Sports Administration and Management”.
It is written by Dr. Joseph Awoyinfa, a lecturer in the Department of Human Kinetics and Health Education, Faculty of Education, University of Lagos, Nigeria; a researcher and educational consultant. I was invited by the author and the university to review the book when presented to the public on December 4, 2008, in Nigeria.
According to Awoyinfa, it is a truism all over the world that sport is now a reference issue that can no longer be ignored in various sectors of the economy and spheres of life. The author adds that this text thus takes a critical look at topical issues in sports administration and management, dwelling on theories and principles of modern trends in sports administration and control such as leadership, organization, planning, Motivation, etc.
The text contains 16 chapters. Chapter one is christened “the concept of sports management”. Here, Awoyinfa says management is a concept that implies different things to different people at other times, thus leading to its multiplicity of definitions. He explains that management has been variously described as an art, a science, a person or people, a discipline, and a process.
This author expatiates that as an art, sports management is all about carrying out sports organizational functions and tasks through people, while as a science, sports management is about establishing sports philosophy, laws, theories, principles, processes, and practices. According to him, sports management is defined as a means of creating formal structures and an establishment based on a mission, objectives, targets, functions, and tasks.
Awoyinfa says sports management may refer to the head alone or to all the senior staff, committee, etc. In contrast, as a discipline, management is a field of study with various subjects and topics. The author illuminates that sports management as a process is about a systematic way of doing things.
Awoyinfa highlights management functions in sports administration as planning, organizing, staffing, directing/leading, controlling, coordination, budgeting, and evaluation. On whom a sports manager is, this author educates that a sports manager is anyone at any level of sport organization that directs other people’s efforts towards the achievement of organizational goals sport-wise.
Chapter two is based on the subject matter of evolution and trends of sports management thought. Here, Awoyinfa discloses that the development of ideas on sports management dates back to when people first attempted to accomplish goals by working together in a group.
In his words, “There was serious thinking and theorizing about managing many years before the dawn of the twentieth (20th) century, which marked the beginning of modern sports management thought. Major efforts to develop theories and principles of sports management began from the early twentieth (20th) century with Frederick Taylor and Henri Fayol. The industrial revolution of the nineteenth (19th) century probably provided the climate for this very serious theorizing.”
Awoyinfa adds that since the turn of the 20th century, writers on sports management and business theory have been propounding different ideas about managing work and personnel more efficiently and effectively. This author educates that the three primary schools of management thought are: classical, human-behavioral, and integrative. Awoyinfa also highlights early sports management theorists, principles and characteristics of scientific management, appraisal of the scientific management theory, etc., in this chapter.
Chapter three is thematically labeled “principles of sports management”. In this chapter, the educational consultant explains that sports principles are the fundamental laws on which sports management is built. He adds that management principles must therefore be based on general terms applicable within sport organizations of varying sizes and character. “Modern sports managers and administrators are expected to be able to identify and use appropriate principles that are relevant to particular situations. This is because no single principle can suit all administrative situations,” submits Awoyinfa.
He says the fundamental principles of sports are those applicable to all sports organizations. As a result of their general acceptability, they are sometimes referred to as “universal principles of sports management”. This author expatiates that some of these principles are: responsibility, a delegation of authority, and communication. Regarding humanitarian principles of sports management, Awoyinfa identifies these as democracy, justice, human relations, sympathy, empathy, consideration, and humility.
In chapter four, based on the concept of behavioral and motivational theories in a sports organization, the author says human beings are unique creatures as they behave differently under different conditions and are mainly challenging to predict. Awoyinfa stresses that since human beings constitute the most crucial element in a sports organization, sports managers need to understand why people behave in one way or another so that they (sports managers) can influence people to perform precisely the way sports organizations do find desirable.
One potent instrument this author suggests that can be used to elicit performance in athletes is Motivation. In his words, “Motivation is something needed in sports organizations to make employees perform. However, it has been an important and a puzzling subject for sports managers.” Awoyinfa further discusses the development of motivational concepts in sports organizations, the application of motivational theories to sports management, methods of behavior modification, etc., in this chapter.
In chapters five to ten, the author beams his analytical searchlight on subject matters such as management techniques in sports organization; the concept of sports organization; setting the design in sports organization; the idea of planning in sports administration; making sports organizations more effective in Nigeria and staffing in sports organizations.
Chapter 11 is based on communication strategies in sports organizations. According to Awoyinfa, communication is crucial in any organizational effectiveness because organizations cannot function effectively when communication skills are lacking among members. “Since communication is the moving spirit in an organization, its absence may make organizations standstill,” asserts this author.
In chapters 12 to 16, Awoyinfa X-rays concepts such as organizational changes and development in sports administration; leadership in sports administration and management; administration and management of soccer as a coach; teaching human kinetics and health education in schools and colleges; and organization and administration of schools at various levels of education.
As regards the mode of presentation, this text scores a pass mark. For instance, the language is comprehensible, and the ideas are brilliantly articulated. The simplicity of the language is expected, given the author’s dual professional background as a lecturer and pastor. To ensure the easy study of the text on the readers’ part, Awoyinfa highlights the objectives of each chapter at the beginning and ends with review/revision questions.
What’s more, he creatively embroiders the text with graphics (pages 50, 97, 317, 330, 338, 395, etc.) to enhance readers’ understanding through visual communication. Awoyinfa includes references at the end of each chapter to fulfill the academic obligation of source disclosure and offer readers opportunities to read more. The inclusion of many references also confirms the depth of his research. His use of visual distinction for the phrase “Modern Trends” in the title is emphatically creative.
Suppose chapters really make this text qualified as a compendium of modern solutions to the administrative and management problems plaguing our sports development in Nigeria. In that case, they are chapters four, eight, 11, and 13. This is because they discuss Motivation, planning, communication, and leadership, respectively.
Meanwhile, the thematically most significant chapter of all is chapter four. The fact that it is consciously or unconsciously taken to be the most crucial chapter finds practical expression in the deeper communication and cohesion between its subject matter on the one hand and the outer front cover’s allegorical visuals or metaphorical images such as goal post, cyclists racing, a lawn tennis player poised for action with her bat, sprinters competing and footballers struggling for ball possession, on the other hand. These are images used for illustration in motivational discourse.
However, some errors are noticed in this text. The errors are “Acknowledgement” (page iii), instead of “Acknowledgements”; non-paragraphing of the natural first few paragraphs of “Preface”; “Loosing” (pages 396 and 404), instead of “Losing”, etc. These errors need to be corrected in the next edition.
On a note of analytical finality, this text is a compendium of irresistible sports management tips. It is a must-read for all stakeholders in the sports sector, especially managers and administrators. It is simply fascinating.