Michael Toebe joined SCI Talk to discuss his recent article exploring the potential for mediation to be part of sports conflicts such as the punch that caused a 100-year- old rivalry between Brigham Young University and the University of Utah to come to a screeching halt.
Toebe sees the dispute as an interesting case study to imagine mediation as part of the solution.
“It’s a very passionate rivalry” Toebe said.
The punch resulted in a decision to suspend all games between the two rival schools. This lead to the question: Is this the most optimal decision and response to that conflict? According to Toebe the answer is no.
“Just putting a game or relationship on hold doesn’t necessarily resolve issues,” Toebe said.
Despite mediation being an unfamiliar form of conflict resolution for some in athletic administration, it can be a very productive catalyst to resolving complex issues.
Joshua Gordon of the Sports Conflict Institute brings up the possibility that Athletic Directors, faced with many demands and pressure to act quickly, often trend toward more traditional crisis management approaches because they are familiar and seem like they get to a solution quickly.
In advocating for mediation as a means toward more durable solutions to complex problems.
Toebe adds, “It’s a voluntary process and you get to make the decisions and have more flexibility than you would normally have.”