Sports as a Microcosm of Society: About Derek Jeter, the NFL & Women on Sports TV

Sports as a Microcosm of Society: About Derek Jeter, the NFL & Women on Sports TV

October 2, 2014

Sports – like life – is full of good news and bad news.   Teams win or lose which impacts how we feel. We are either elated or disappointed much like the feelings we experience daily in our personal and business lives. Sports news can be compelling and emotional and often reflects events happening in the world.


I experienced both elation and sadness recently with the recent retirement of Derek Jeter. I’m a sports fan and a New York Yankee fan. Derek Jeter’s 20 year career, which ended last week with his retirement, has often inspired me as a leader and teacher and coach of leadership. Few people will deny that the example Jeter set as The Captain of the NY Yankees, is a model for leadership – confident, committed, inspirational, motivating, loyal, generous, humble, and collaborative. Even the Yankees’ # one rival – the Boston Red Sox – honored Jeter in a memorable pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park. Few present day athletes, CEOs or leaders of the free world for that matter, are acknowledged in this way. Great leadership in sports sets the example for our society  and the world of business of how to lead and how to treat each other. Millions of sports fans watch and read about that example and hopefully we learn from it – especially the younger generation. That’s the good news.


On the the other hand, let’s talk about the bad news – the way the NFL has handled the issue of domestic violence to date. Football is a violent sport. The process that teams must take in order to win results in inflicting damage on the opposing team. This is a poor example for off-the-field personal conduct. Laws are meant to protect you and me from violence off-the-field. Yet too many players take violence into their personal lives and think it’s okay. Often, they believe they are above the law. Domestic violence has been a serious problem in our country for a long time. Bringing it to the forefront –  through the media and having the NFL punish offending players and invest in education and solutions for our society  – can positively reduce a crime that has plagued society much too long.


Finally, let’s talk about the new CBS Show featuring an all-women cast of sports journalists, athletes, owners and managers. “We Need to Talk” will address every aspect of sports news.   Whatever is in the news about sports will be the topics. Women comprise 30 – 45% of America’s sports fans, depending on the sport. For example, 45% of fans watching football every weekend are women. Having a sports news show with an all-women cast reflects what is happening in society – as fans and as athletes. Women already enjoy talking about sports, but mostly to the men in our lives. For the first time, women will actually be discussing sports with each other for national audiences to listen in. Will women discuss sports differently than men? I’m guessing yes – because we look at the world differently.  Different points of view impact sports, business and society positively.

-– Leslie Grossman, Vistage Chair, leadership coach and author of “Link Out” (Wiley).