As we bid a fond farewell to the 2012-2013 NFL season, here are some lessons learned that may provide valuable to those of us in the association community.
1. Never underestimate your young talent
Rookies made a name for themselves this season. Andrew Luck. Robert Griffin III (2013 NFL’s Rookie of the Year). Russell Wilson. Three rookie quarterbacks who led their teams to winning seasons and the playoffs. Let’s not forget Alfred Morris who’s on his way to becoming the next great ‘Skins running back. Associations should also be willing to give their younger staff the ball and take the lead where appropriate. They may exceed your expectations.
2. Mistreat your staff at your own risk
The aforementioned RGIII is currently recuperating from knee surgery due to injuries this season. Much of the blame for this has centered around Skins coach Mike Shanahan and the decision to not pull his quarterback from the playoff game when he was obviously hurt. For a quarterback who is known for his rushing yards as well as his passing, ACL surgery is significant and may affect how RGIII plays from here on out. While association staff typically do not suffer ACL tears on the job (at least I hope not), they do suffer from toxic work environments, office bullies, and unsatisfying work. Continue to ignore this and you will lose valuable staff.
3. Institutional memory still matters
If you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, you’re well aware of the following image
For those who are not sports fans, this was the final play of one of the first Monday Night Football games of the season where one referee called it a touchdown for Seattle while the other called it a touchback for Green Bay. Ultimately, the game is called for Seattle. The refs, replacements for the officials involved with a labor dispute with the NFL, were vilified for this call and others like it during the first few games of the season. The replacement refs had very limited experience calling NFL games and it showed. In fact, it was this game that was credited with ending the lockout and bringing back the professional refs. The successful association is one that utilizes both new and seasoned talent. Staff with more than 20 years of experience have the institutional memory that no amount of research can replace. They can tell you where the bodies are buried and more importantly, how they died.
4. The unexpected will happen. Deal with it.
Super Bowl 47 will be remembered for many things: The Ravens’ dominant first half, Beyoncé’s half time extravaganza, The 49ers’ surge, and a partial power outage in the third quarter. While it cannot be considered the SuperDome’s finest half hour, the power was eventually restored and play continued. What happens when something unexpected happens during your association’s legislative fly in or annual conference? You fix it and move on.