Mid-Year Culture Check-up

Ok, you’ve almost made it. Christmas break is right around the corner. The first semester is coming to a close. One down, one to go. Sometime in the next couple of weeks. You as the athletic director should sit down and evaluate the current state of your program. Today’s post is just a quick check list of questions and thoughts to get you thinking about your athletic department’s culture and atmosphere.

If you have been a reader of TheAthleticDirectors.com for any length of time, then you already know that we are huge fans of culture. A wise coach once imparted this wisdom to us:

If your culture is important to you, then you must fight for it everyday.”

Hopefully the next few items help you with your mid-year culture check-up.


What is the overall mood of your athletic department?

How are people feeling? This includes players, coaches, parents, and fans.

Is there a mood of optimism and hope, or is it a mood of enduring and obligation? Look for ways as the athletic director to infuse some positive energy into the environment.

Be the change that you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi

It starts at the top. Do your best to keep the mood positive.


Are your department’s theme and vision still at the forefront?

Our most popular articles on this blog are the ones about theme and vision. It’s clear that most ADs like to establish direction and purpose in their culture.

However, are you sticking to them? It’s easy to come up with a catchy phrase and slap it on a few t-shirts and think that you have created culture.

False. You need to back up your vision everyday in your communication with all of those in your athletic department.

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18

Be the broken record, it will pay off. Your culture enhances with every person that embraces your vision.


Does your athletic department value the true meaning of competition?

Coach Dennis Scott at Bob Jones University is (in our opinion) a leader in championing the cause of true competition. We agree whole-heartedly with everything he says. You should too.

However, it’s not just enough for you to know and believe it, but you must impart it to your athletes and parents.

Just because a child ‘competes’ does not mean that they understand what that means or that they intend to compete.” – Coach Dennis Scott

It’s a long process, but it’s a very necessary one. Teach your athletes that it is for God’s glory.


Does everyone in your athletic department feel recognized, appreciated, and valuable?

Pictures of teams that win tournaments and big games always get posted to facebook and twitter. But what about the teams that are less successful or less noticeable? Do you make sure that they get some face time?

Make a concerted effort to recognize those that don’t normally get the nod. Maybe you have a parent that keeps the book at your elementary C team basketball games. Shoot them an email or sent them a quick text. It will pay dividends.

Like it or not, some people do these things so that others will thank them. When they don’t get the recognition that they desire, they become upset. Consider this quote:

The greatest humiliation in life, is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, and then fail to get it.” – E.W. Howe

It’s so true. Whether people say they do it for the recognition or not, deep down most people want a little something. Keep that in mind as your athletic department keeps running smoothly.

A culture of appreciation is attractive and draws willing participants.

Quick side note about thanking people: make sure you do it through an avenue of communication in which they participate. If you give them a shout-out on twitter and they don’t have a twitter account than that didn’t get the job done. Sure others know that you appreciate this person, but make sure that they know.


What’s the money situation look like?

Are you in control of your budget? If so, are you making money. It’s true that Christian schools are in many cases a ministry. However, ministries need money too.

Look at the easy stuff like home basketball games. Are you turning a profit or are you taking a loss each time you host? What’s your travel cost look like? Is there anyway you can save money on this?

If you’re currently operating in the red, what’s your plan? Trust us, this situation won’t take care of yourself. Use the Christmas break to rack your brain and see if there is anyway that you can rectify the situation.


What do you have in the works?

The worst athletic directors sit back and bask in the “glory of their athletic kingdom.” The best ADs always have a new idea on the back burner. Whether its a new sport, a new fundraiser, or just a new twist on something old, always have a plan.

Christian school athletic programs are like sharks. If they stop moving forward, they die.

People want to be a part of something that’s going places. Keep your program moving; have something exciting to roll out in the future.


How is your personal life going?

Everyone wants to think that they’re job is the most busy, stressful, and important job on the planet. It makes us feel better about what we’re doing. I don’t think being a Christian school AD is the most busy, stressful job out there. But I do know that it’s important. I also know that it is CRAZY busy.

People in ministry can often fall into the trap of being too busy in ministry. If you’ve slacked off in spending time in God’s word and prayer, then take the Christmas break to refocus. Make it a priority, because it is. Spending time in God’s word will also put everything else in perspective as it helps shape your worldview.

I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. – C. S. Lewis

Secondly, spend time with your family. Many ADs live at the gym or at the ball field. It’s part of the job, it’s not a 9-5. However, take advantage of every opportunity you have to spend time with your family. Time is something you can’t get back.


So there it is, your mid-year check-up. Take some time to think about each point. Is your athletic department faring well? Are you happy in the work? Does your family remember that you exist? It’s scary to evaluate, but remember:

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation…” – Winston Churchill

Jeff is the athletic director at Victory Baptist Academy. He is also the founder and administrator of TheAthleticDirectors.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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