Welcome from the Chair
In team sports, performance is often driven by the effectiveness with which coaches are able to blend youth and experience. Doing this successfully within one campaign is an achievement in itself, but dynasties and serial winners are built on the capacity to refresh a winning group or, sometimes, to make more sweeping changes.
This was the sixth occasion on which I’ve had the honour of chairing the judging of the Sport Industry Awards. I had grown used to a ratio of around 3:1 in terms of returning Judges vs newbies. This year, it was the other way round, with three quarters of our panel being first-timers.
What hadn’t changed was the astonishing breadth and depth of industry knowledge and experience around the table. With an immense amount of ground to be covered, it sometimes falls to the Chair to cut debates short, and I have to admit that there were a few occasions where I had to shake myself out of “appreciative sponge” mode, in which I just wanted to listen and learn.
This year, things felt even more passionate. I’ve always believed that robust disagreement is to be encouraged in a judging process. The shortlisted entries have overcome numerous hurdles just to reach this stage, and each of them deserves to have its merits championed. That’s always been the case, but here the influx of new blood created the need to accelerate through the forming and norming stages of group development, and to allow sufficient storming before performing the group’s essential decision-making function.
Maybe, there was a foreboding of the momentous disruptions about to descend on us all. For whatever reason, the Judges took full advantage of the well-established structures and procedures – vigilantly overseen by Tom Kingsley of EY – and what today feels like the outrageous luxury of blending tight-knit groups around small tables with lively plenary sessions.
In my opinion, the outcome is that – as in previous years – the winners of the 2020 Sport Industry Awards, and all who pushed them close, can be confident that the Judging Process generated the right amount of heat as well as light to ensure that the results are fully baked.
Congratulations to all shortlisters and winners, and thank you to the Judges (now all battle-hardened) and Sport Industry Group. Let’s hope we can get just as hands-on in 2021.
Chair of Sport Industry Awards Judges