One aspect of the Team TTO Rio 2016 campaign that has generated significant comment is the negative social media reaction to the athletes and administrators.
Some have pointed to high expectations while a few have cast blame on the TTOC’s 10golds24 target and the heightened Team TTO athlete centred social media focused marketing and branding strategy.
The concept of viewing organisations as open systems is relevant. Organisations influence and are influenced by the social, cultural and economic conditions of the environment in which they operate. They depend on society for resources, and in exchange they provide some products or services for society. (Chelladurai 2001).
Trends will impact how sports organisations could best operate while social values also have an influence.
A lot has changed in the operating environment and sport organisations and their primary stakeholders must face up to that reality. Because of cable and social media, T&T is now very much taken in by the entertainment aspect of elite level sport and the emphasis on competition and excellence in sports.
This trend has created the environment where media and other commercial enterprises look at sports, sports competition, and sport organisations from more of a marketing perspective.
Not all sport events have the same degree of entertainment value but it is well established that the Olympics and Paralympics both generate excitement. The entertainment value of sport lies in;
(a) the excellence displayed by the participants
(b) the unpredictability of the outcomes of a contest and
(c) the loyalty and attachment of fans to sports, teams and athletes.
The higher the level of excellence, the higher the entertainment value. That is what makes contests of the Olympics, World Cup and professional sports attractive to watch.
While the contest is at the core of the event, spectacle is also a part. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, half time shows, the build up to the contest, the post event discussions etc, all added elements of the entertainment package.
Sports spectating is an equally important aspect of sport as entertainment. The notion of the Third Place Experience—Melnick (1993). The Third Place may extend beyond the stadium and arena into bars, restaurants, shopping malls, homes —anywhere where a group of individuals can watch a game or sport event on television, cable or mobile.
The Third Place experience also permits Basking In Reflected Glory —BIRGing—(Cialdini et al.,1976) and Cutting Off Reflected Failure —CORFing—(Wann & Branscombe, 1990).
The thesis is that BIRGing is the tendency for people to publicise their connection with others who have been successful. CORFing on the other hand is the tendency of people to increase distance between themselves and others who have been unsuccessful (Synder, Lassegard & Ford,1986).
Expressions of reflected glory, and distancing from reflected failure isn’t a Trinbagonian phenomena. Victory and defeat are sporting realities. There will be days of adversity and powder.
•Brian Lewis is president of the T&T Olympic Committee and Commonwealth Games Association. The views expressed is not necessarily those of the TTOC and TTCGA.