The debut of ESPN documentary ‘The Last Dance‘ about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team garnered so much attention from the media and viewers, in part, because there is not much else to talk about. Sports gambling sites are scrambling to stay relevant. A prominent sports gambler has turned to the markets for action.
The shutdown of professional and amateur sports can be traced back to the decision by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to put the league’s season on hold after a player tested positive for Covid-19. This was before state governments had begun to restrict large gatherings. Gregg Doyel in the Indianapolis Star argues that Silver’s decision on March 11th likely saved lives. Doyel writes:
Leaders around the world, here and abroad, did a terrible job of understanding what their health experts were telling them as the coronavirus was spreading.
It wasn’t until March 11 when our safety was taken, mostly, out of our hands.
Thank you, Adam Silver.
Gyms and arenas across America were set to hold high school and college tournaments that week. The timely shut down of the NBA, NCAA and high school sports likely played a role in the spread of Covid-19. Just a few days prior to the shutdown of the NBA, a high school sectional game in Indiana was played where five people who attended have subsequently died from Covid-19. You don’t need to extrapolate much to see how our current situation could be far worse than it already is.
Adam Silver did his job. He made a difficult decision in a timely fashion. Michaela J. Kerrissey and Amy C. Edmondson writing at the Harvard Business Review highlighted Silver and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for taking decisive action when kicking the can down the road would have been easier. They write:
It takes a unique kind of leadership to push against the natural human tendency to downplay and delay. Far too many leaders instead try to send upbeat messages assuring all is well — which, in the current tragedy, has unfortunately led to unnecessary lost life at a scale that may never be accurately counted.
The point of this isn’t to put Silver on a pedestal. He did his job. Millions of workers in the US, and elsewhere, are doing their jobs under difficult and sometimes heartbreaking circumstances. Your job may not put you on the front lines of this crisis, but there are things you can do to keep yourself and other safe.
In the chart above you can see four characteristics that Kerrissey and Edmondson highlight about leadership and decision making in a crisis. There is talk that the NBA is formulating plans for a return later in the year. You can see that updating your priors and communicating in a transparent fashion and part of leading during difficult times, which seems to be what Silver and the NBA are doing. Here’s hoping the decision to startup the NBA machine is easier, and less fraught, than the decision to shut it all down last month.