From the Author: This article is focused on the management problems sports organizations in South America face to keep up with the new technology trends used nowadays.
Technological challenges in the current sports management.
This scientific article addresses the technological challenges that sports management faces today. In this sense, the elementary notions of the classical and postmodern theories of general management and their corresponding application in the sports field are described. Likewise, the use of management information systems is analyzed, which are tools that allow people to manipulate data and create models with the aim of making timely, fast, and appropriate decisions. Subsequently, solutions are proposed to face the changes produced by globalization, technology, marketing, and other elements that significantly influence optimal sports management, demanding to be managed with certainty, effectiveness, ethics, and moral principles.
The development of technology and organizations has produced a large number of changes in the world. In that sense, they have provided advantages and opportunities for the evolution of all types of organizations. Within the management field, theories and approaches have been created, which have been based on improving labor productivity and systematically distributing labor work. In this sense, the contributions of researchers Taylor and Fayol were very significant for humanity many decades ago, because they created effective methods for solving the problems of the time, using science instead of empiricism.
Subsequently, changes and organizational needs gradually transformed the classic approaches, and other methods began to be used. In addition, terms such as quantitative management, organizational behavior, system theory, total quality, and reengineering will be used, which form fundamental aspects of contemporary management.
On the other hand, in this century there have been paradigm shifts in classical theories and new paradigms have emerged that involve all actors in society due to certain factors such as globalization. In this current postmodern era, new management models have been conceived focused on new technologies with a more democratic and strategic foundation, where workers are considered members of the company, therefore, making organizations more sustainable.
All this evolution has generated new contributions to knowledge. With the emerging paradigm, there are, for example, the theories of systemic thinking and complex thinking, transdisciplinarity, among others. The issue is in its application to the organization.
It is a great challenge for all organizations in the world, especially those in the sports field, to apply all these theories and methods in order to evolve and meet the objectives set in an optimal way.
It is important to note that “sports” has been a medium that has modified the world and continues to transform it from all angles. As such, for years the sports industry has gained many spaces and has grown gradually, creating the need to: organize, direct, control, and manage sports in all categories, from sports practiced for health, recreation, education, and physical exercise, to the elite sports.
In that regard, “management” is a term used to refer to the position held by the general director or manager of an organization. Ruiz cited by Marcano (2007), states that it refers to organizations that carry out activities of planning, organization, management, and control of their human, physical, and financial resources with the aim of achieving certain objectives. In such a way, a manager is in charge of directing, motivating, guiding, and supervising the members of the organization.
It is important to mention that the same author suggests that in order to have effective management, the following functions must be fulfilled simultaneously:
- Planning: a plan is established with the necessary means to meet the objectives.
- The organization: it determines how the implementation of the plans is developed.
- Management: it is related to motivation, leadership, and performance.
- Control: its purpose is to measure, qualitatively and quantitatively, the execution of plans and their success.
Likewise, there are other elements of a strategic nature that support management and allow the development of the organization, in this sense, it refers to management information systems, which according to Hernández (2007), have undergone transformations over the years, and also states that initially, the communication channels were informal in structure and use. However, with the wide adoption of informatics, they were transformed into digital data processing systems, with which information was controlled in a more precise and secure way.
Thus, it is imperative to make the most of information systems, because they have great advantages such as avoiding loss of time and streamlining the organization’s operations. In relation to this, Salas (1989), states that information systems have the function of effectively managing a large amount of data that is used as support for decision-making, for this reason, they constitute an essential element in any company that seeks to streamline its activities to achieve optimal performance of all its resources.
Likewise, the author Asap (1989) mentions that all operations and processes are controlled effectively, in addition to taking advantage of human potential, reducing operational costs and the use of man-hours. Therefore, it is a great challenge for organizations to ideally apply them.
On the other hand, in this technological world, where a man needs to satisfy his needs and improve his quality of life, through constant innovation, it is necessary for a country or organization to invest in technology.
For example, top-tier countries have prioritized science and technology as state policies, and have allocated their financial resources for the development of these areas. That is why, the world economic scenario is currently led by these nations, which are Japan, the United States, China, Korea, Germany, France, and Australia, among others. This situation manifests itself because the current economy rewards countries that are at the forefront of the scientific and technological race and invest these resources in creating new inventions and patents. However, it is not only enough to focus on the economic development, but also the social and human development of the population. Likewise, cultural, ethical, and moral values are fundamental for the evolution and development of nations.
It cannot be denied that globalization has generated great changes in the world economic scenario and the sports area does not escape this, which has been strongly influenced by marketing, and it can be seen how many sports have been modified in their technical conditions to generate more publicity such as the competition in Olympic wrestling, the increase in competitions per year in athletics, among others.
Currently, the use of technology in sports can be carried out with different objectives, therapeutic or to increase performance. In relation to this criteria, Pérez (2012) suggests that doubts about legitimacy in sports arise when technology is used with the purpose of improving. It is then that it becomes one of the central issues for sports authorities who must establish the conditions of participation of athletes in the different events. Although the conditions of future realization are very different, the three types of improving modifications that athletes could experience in the not-too-distant future are genetic doping, implants in the body that will turn athletes into cyborgs, and the creation of hybrid beings and chimeras.
It is important to highlight that sports should not be dehumanized. We must understand that technology is a means of support and not a final objective, where ethical and moral principles can be violated. It is a great challenge for “sports management” to face this situation since it must focus on competing in a transparent and healthy way, avoiding prohibited substances that increase performance, but harm the athlete’s health. In this sense, Pérez (2012) indicates that there are several challenges posed by these technological developments: health, equality, and the understanding of human nature, problems to which sports will have to respond and which will involve possibly a profound change to its current nature.
Solution to new technological challenges in sports management
Considering what was expressed by Pérez (2012), Who views what could happen with sports, it is important to reflect on the aspects sports management must face, without overlooking the precepts that “Olympism” manages, which is based on a philosophy of life, and combines the qualities of the body, will power and spirit, with the aim of always putting sports at the service of the harmonious development of the man and society. Likewise, effort, the educational function of sports, and respect for fundamental ethical principles are essential values.
It is time for each country in Latin America to develop and use technology appropriately to optimally organize its particular sports system, and of course, to achieve better competitive results. Likewise, it is an aspiration for Venezuela to become a power in the sports industry. For this, good and true managers are needed who go hand in hand with global trends to develop and use technology effectively under ethical principles. In that sense, they must concentrate on generating knowledge and incorporating it into the country’s productive apparatus.
On the other hand, we must take advantage of technology by developing management tools, which provide fast, accurate, and organized information that supports decision-making. In this sense, Author González (2013) expresses that it is necessary to have proactive, creative, innovative management that guarantees productivity and quality through adequate administration of resources and all the changes that are generated, which in some way, affect organizational behavior. Hence, the importance of how a manager should be, his scope, repercussions, and knowledge that he must manage, and, above all, what is involved with society when assuming the new managerial challenge.
Currently, companies must not only compete with others in the same region but there is increasing competition with other companies from other places and countries, even more so in the face of the dizzying changes in 21st-century management, with an integrative and inclusive approach that goes hand in hand with government growth and development statutes. In the same order of ideas, we must develop our own management information systems, which according to Antonorsi, cited by Hernández (2007), indicate that they comprise all the procedures that make the organization work. The systems are diverse, they can be automated or not, and they can even be mixed.
Advances in technology have given rise to the so-called decision support system as a direct access system for the user, which allows managers to manipulate data and create models with the purpose of helping them make decisions.
Currently, every organization has become aware of the importance of the use of information systems as an element that provides multiple advantages. In that sense, O’Brein (2001) mentions the following:
- A primary functional area of the organization that is as critical to organizational success as the accounting, finance, operations management, marketing, and human talent management functions.
- An important collaboration for operational efficiency, staff productivity and morale, and external user service and satisfaction.
- An important source of information and support necessary to promote effective decision-making by managers.
- An important ingredient in the development of competitive products and services that give the organization a strategic advantage in the global market.
- A major portion of an organization’s resources and its cost of doing business, thus posing a significant resource management challenge.
- An essential, dynamic, and challenging professional opportunity for millions of men and women.
In addition, information systems can provide benefits that can be measured at an intangible and tangible level according to the organization. The main benefits of an information system, according to O’Brein (2001), are the following:
- Quick access to information, and therefore, improves user service.
- Reduction of operational and administrative costs.
- Reduction in the degree of centralization of decisions in the organization.
- Better adaptation of the company to face unforeseen events.
- More motivation of middle managers to anticipate the requirements of directives.
- Provides competitive advantages and added value.
- Catalytic support of a control system.
- Specific attention to the human factor of the company.
- Possibility of planning and generating institutional projects supported by information systems that present clear and supported elements.
- More productivity, thanks to the freeing up of search time and generation of repeated information.
- Generation of new dynamics, using computer media such as email, multimedia, videoconference, and direct access to national and international databases.
- Access to programs and institutional agreements and exchanges.
- More integrity and veracity of information.
- More stability and more security to access the information.
- Optimization of the information flow, allowing more agility and organization.
- Eliminate the barrier of distance by working with the same system at remote points.
- Reduce errors, time, and superfluous resources.
- Integration of new technologies and cutting-edge tools.
In conclusion, it can be expressed that classical theories consider management and administration as the universal set of functions that include planning, organization, direction, coordination, and control, which is why they conceive organization as a whole; that is, as a “System”. Likewise, the manager’s skills and abilities are considered to plan, organize, coordinate, and control not only his employees but all aspects of the organization to seek efficiency in all aspects.
On the other hand, postmodernist theories are an integrative and inclusive approach, oriented to growth and development, all of this referring to organizations so that they are productive and competitive in this highly globalized and technological world. This is why companies must look for ways or formulas that direct them towards productivity and quality, without forgetting ethical and moral values.
In sports management, they can be seen in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the Major League Baseball (MLB), have successfully applied postmodern theories and management information systems. Nevertheless, this later (MLB) has been put in question in recent times because it has not carried out sports practice ethically; since it did not have established anti-doping rules. The main objective was to favor the spectacle aspect of the sport, which generated substantial economic benefits.
In Latin America, some postmodern theories have been applied in sports management in rare cases. Consequently, it is a great challenge to apply them on a massive scale with the methods and tools that are most favorable according to their particular context.
For example, in Venezuela, we cannot fail to mention that there are regional and national sports organizations that have failed to their own sports community, which have not been able to apply classical theories that were created more than a hundred years ago, so it is very difficult to pretend that they can apply postmodern or emerging theories. However, it is a challenge that looms in the future.
As a pending subject, new management methods must be generated and applied with effective management of technology, which is fully applicable and feasible to its environment without forgetting to “manage sports with ethics and moral principles” and divorced from trends and political philosophies.
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A. Neomar Evies is a graduate professor with a degree in informatics. A researcher and speaker who has given lectures in various countries. He has extensive experience in the Sports management field and high performance sport and athlete health. He also has a Ph.D. in Sports Science, and a Master in Management. As a writer, he has penned three books in information systems focused on Management and Sports.