ASSESS

Our Approach

SCI serves as a partner for your athletic department, organization, or team in identifying value-added assessment needs and designing efficient and effective tools to get answers that are actionable and critical for success. Our expert team can work independently or partner with your staff.

Start With Key Questions

Do you fully understand whether or not you’re maximizing on and off field performance? Is your department and team culture optimized for success? Do you have answers to the questions that keep you up at night? Are you at a loss for solutions that manage risk and support performance?

Assess and Analyze Critical Success Factors

All consistently successful teams and organizations analyze critical success factors to ensure optimal performance. Often, the emphasis is on the physical and inside the line performance metrics, yet it often is the surrounding supports and structures undermine the success predicted from talent alone. The primary goal of our Assessment is to understand the organizational and individual needs to ensure optimal performance on and off the field of play.

Assessment Services

SCI provides customized assessment services tailored to drive critical decision making. Whether it’s in identifying training needs, enhancing culture, managing destructive conflict, developing leaders, mitigating risk, or any other critical decision in the business of sports the key starting point is trusted and reliable information.

Contact SCI to discuss your Assessment needs

Show more +

As a $70B industry based on the foundation of optimal performance on and off the field, sport has forever been an important element of societies worldwide. It facilitates a space for communities to come together across divisions of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Sport imparts valuable skills and meaningful experience for everyone involved.

Because sports operate 24/7 in the public eye, competitive goals are often thwarted by destructive conflict both on and off the field. To an extent, a degree of conflict is part of the narrative that makes sports so compelling. Yet when the consequences outweigh the benefits, conflict becomes incredibly destructive to the goals of organizations, teams, and individuals alike. Managing conflict effectively has become a core competency for athletes, coaches, administrators, and supporters.

Costs of Sports Conflict

There are many categories of sports conflict as well as myriad reasons that destructive conflict occurs, and significant costs to administrators, coaches, athletes and supporters.

It is important to understand the cost of a single episode of conflict in relationship to winning, dollars, career development, etc. The overall cost is dispersed among a number of stakeholders. The cost to each stakeholder group may include (but is not limited to):

  • Administrators: Loss of revenue streams, loss of good will, brand damage, time, stress, liability, reputational damage, job termination
  • Coaches: Team losses, financial losses, job termination, damage to future career opportunities, reputational damage
  • Athletes: Sub-optimal on-field performance, suspension, premature end to athletic career, loss of scholarship, defamation, damage to future professional opportunities, damage to personal life, loss of product endorsements, criminal sentence
  • Supporters: Loss of good will, dignity and spirit in connection with “their” team’s performance or personal behavior; reputational damage; criminal charges

A Systemic Problem

Negative conflict in sports is nothing new. Every day at least one sports conflict incident makes national headlines. At a local level, any given organization faces hundreds of conflicts that threaten their success each year.

Despite the systemic nature of the problem, we continue to wait to address the issue of negative conflict in sports until a damaging event occurs. Instead, we must assume a preventive approach to in order to achieve lasting change and alleviate the costs to stakeholders at all levels.

Conflict is inevitable, but when handled appropriately, conflict can facilitate collaboration and the sharing of information. It can enable parties to develop superior strategies through a team problem-solving approach.

Many times, destructive conflict arises because the parties involved do not possess the skills to manage conflict constructively. With the appropriate tools, destructive conflict can both be prevented and constructively resolved.

Conflict Results in Sub-optimization

If athletes and coaches are unable to grapple with conflict, their performance is stunted. Teams become disintegrated and personal behavior compromises professional achievements. It’s a no-win situation for everyone: players, coaches, sponsors, administrators, and fans. Because conflict results in sub-optimization, conflict resolution skills are critical to achieving maximum potential both on and off the field.

Defining “Compete.” The English word compete is derived from the Latin competere, ‘to strive after (something) in company or together.’ Early use of the world was related to one’s ability to perform optimally at a particular task. Currently, however, we think about competing in terms of the comparative success model. Rather than aiming to achieve our highest potential, we seek only to perform marginally better than our opponents. This mentality leads to negative conflict and sub-optimization.

The Fallacy of the Angry Athlete

Many coaches accept destructive behavior on and off the court because they believe that the underlying fire is what fuels a player’s game. However, research suggests that it is not the angry athlete who performs optimally but, rather, the athlete who remains focused, engaged, and driven toward a clear set of goals.

Context is Key

In order to effectively manage sports conflict, we must first acknowledge its many forms and the contexts from which it emerges.

Each sport maintains its own unique culture and as a result, conflict manifests differently in different sports. Context also pertains to whether conflict occurs inside or outside the lines of play, the level of play, and any cultural factors that influence the surrounding climate.

A surface scan of the sports-related conflict featured prominently in the media reveals common types of conflict both inside and outside the lines.

Inside the Lines refers to conflict that takes place during play between parties directly involved in the game. Examples may include:

  • Intra team Conflict
  • Inter team Conflict
  • Coach-Athlete Conflict
  • Athlete-Fan Conflict
  • Unwritten Rules
  • Cheating
  • Officiating Conflict

Outside the Lines refers to conflict that occurs outside athletic play and may involve parties either directly or indirectly involved in the game. Examples may include:

  • Administrative Conflict
  • Gender-Related Conflict
  • Domestic Violence
  • Coach-Athlete Conflict
  • Athletic-Academic Conflict
  • Public-Private Conflict
  • Sponsorship
  • Athlete-Reporter Conflict
  • Fan-Fan Conflict

Destructive conflict in sports is a costly, systemic problem. Negative conflict results in sub-optimization and inhibits the quality of the competition. By outlining the many contexts in which conflict arises and the reasons that it has become a prominent issue in sports, we can begin to understand the many interwoven pieces that contribute to the larger problem. There are many examples and types of conflict in sports, but the one element they share is a common cost.

Negative conflict is not inherent to sport. It can be prevented and resolved and the costs can be reduced or avoided altogether. Possible solutions are affordable and their benefits far outweigh the existing costs.


Do you have concerns about possible bullying or hazing behavior on your sports team? Are you concerned about whether Read more >
How are disputes handled on your team or in your athletic department or organization? Is the process fair and Read more >
What core competencies are common to the most successful teams? How best to maximize the talent on the field through Read more >
What changes are needed for your sports team or organization? How effective are your policies and procedures at ensuring Read more >
Is student-athlete experience in your athletic department consistent with the mission of the university? Are best Read more >
Is your team's culture creating an environment consistent with your organization's mission, values, goals, and Read more >