What Turns A Team Into A Program?
By: Colin Lacy
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
What’s the Difference between a “Program” and a “Team”?
No matter what level sports, or what sport for that matter, the term “good program” gets thrown around as much as NIL.
The problem with this is just because a team is winning or performing well, doesn’t mean that it’s a good program.
Everybody knows what a good team looks like. Impressive stats, good players, and a lot of wins. But what does a good program look like? Is there a standard? Does it have something to do with Nick Saban’s “process”?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you stop hearing the term “program” past the college level. Nobody would say that the Atlanta Falcons are a good “program”. Good Team? So far. Good Organization? Yes. Good Franchise? Yes….most would say yes. It’s mainly college and high school sports entities that people talk about being a “program”.
To me, in order to be labeled as a “good program” it’s about development. Developing young men and women into great athletes, yes, but also developing the whole person.
Since sports fans are looking at how many NFL players that college programs produce, or how many recruiting “stars” come out of a high school program, it gets lost that MAYBE 5% of the teams will be making that jump to the next level. What happens to the other 95%?
That’s where a “good program” comes into play. There are so many programs and resources that are at the hands of the student-athletes now to prepare them for when that inevitable final pitch, last basket, or career ending snap is taken.
Most (not all) college athletic departments have put in incentives in place to prepare student-athletes after sports. One example of these is right here in our own back yard.
Georgia Southern Director of Athletics Jared Benko has put a great emphasis on the APEX program. This is an outreach program that follows a curriculum through the career of the student-athlete that covers everything from financial literacy, teaching about taxes, job interview skills, and much more.
The student-athletes are also involved in community outreach, and sessions of needed skills that nobody thinks about like an emergency car care session to show athletes basic car maintenance, and emergency roadside tips.
This trickles down to the high school level too. Everybody wants to look at schools with a brand-new turf field, or a massive videoboard as good programs, and while that’s great, no discounting it at all, if you’re not invested in the people of your program, you’re just a good team…. if that.
Many times, at the high school level, some of these assets to the student athlete are open to all the students at the school and are spearheaded by coaches.
Take Southeast Bulloch for example. The last few years, Coaches Brent Osborne and Randy Lee have been building up the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) program at SEB that was dormant for over 20 years. Now up to about 65 members (many of them student-athletes for the Jackets), the FBLA hosts events for resume building, job interview skills, and other real-world experiences and skills that prepare the members and student-athletes in ways that many at other programs won’t have.
Don’t get me wrong, the “fancy” facilities don’t mean that a program is focusing more on the looks than the substance.
In addition to Randy Lee being RBs coach and Special teams coordinator for SEB Football, and Brent Osborne stepping away from on-field football coaching and moving to the broadcast booth this year, both Lee and Osborne are the Girls and Boys golf coaches for the Jackets and raised money to buy a state-of-the-art golf simulator for SEB golfers. Both can be done and are done well many places throughout the state.
So, what the heck does all this mean? It is just me going off on a soap box again? (maybe…) Just think next time you or you hear someone say, “man that’s a really good program”. Just think. Is it really a good program? Or is it just a good team?