As the Washington Nationals' thrilling baseball team returns to DC after earning the first two World Series games in Houston and preparing to play the third game tomorrow night, sports fans have tonight except the NFL game between the Washington Redskins and only Little to see Minnesota Vikings.
The history of these two franchises provides a management lesson that is relevant to both journalism and sports.
Reporting on the Nationals often picks up General Manager Mike Rizzo, who observes and sometimes takes notes. The coverage of the Redskins often shows the owner Daniel Snyder, who sits in the box of the owner and watches his unfortunate team.
The Lerner family, owned by the Nationals, commissioned Rizzo to decide who the Nationals will sign or sign as free agents or dealers – Rizzo is a respected and experienced baseball man.
As for the Redskins, some insights from an earlier post:
Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, dismisses another coach in another lost season. A look back at another Redskins owner who cares about journalism as much as sports.
Prior to Snyder, the Redskins were successfully owned by Jack Kent Cooke. He was a very visible Redskins owner who ran through practices as if he were the responsible man.
But Cook's teams won three Super Bowls because he knew what he did not know. He hired Bobby Beathard as general manager of the Redskins and Joe Gibbs as coach. He was content to speak aloud and entertain important people in the owner's box and pose with Super Bowl trophies while Beathard and Gibbs let things go.
Snyder earned a lot of money as a businessman, and when he bought the team in 1999 after Cook's death, he thought it wise enough to manage things himself, without any kind of general manager from Bobby Beathard. Year after year, he decided who the Redskins designed, usually for a big name, and thought big names would thrill the fans. One breeze after another, lost one season after another.
The lesson for all those responsible: Know what you do not know and then hire good people to complete these tasks. Cooke was smart enough to know. Snyder still believes that he can select Redskin players better than the executives of other teams who really know what they are doing. To increase the problem, he surrounds himself with people who do not say no to him.
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