There’s always someone in the office who will email everyone in the conversation something that only one or two need to know, flooding the inbox with unnecessary information or banter, generally unappreciated by over 98% of the people in the recipients’ line.
And of course, there’s always the chance of sending sensitive information to people who shouldn’t see it. We’ve all been there.
We feel you, Mark Hager.
The current Black Sticks ‘story’ shouldn’t be a story at all. If what we know is true, all Hager’s done is his job – and accidentally copied in his players. His email, critiquing players’ fitness, training levels and efforts on the field, was intended for the team’s trainer – the exact person he should’ve been having that conversation with. As far as reports go, there was no derogatory information or indecent comments about players – the content was purely highlighting areas for improvement.
I can understand it would’ve made the team environment awkward. Particular players who were named in the email would’ve felt uncomfortable and outed, understandably. It’s no surprise the team didn’t perform well with this situation clouding thoughts and morale. But the overall sentiments can’t be criticised. Hager was trying to improve his side, to raise their performance.
The first rule of coaching (or any kind of management) is that you’re not there to be their friend. It’s his job to pick the best players for his team, to pick up on potential improvements (or “work-ons”, in buzz speak). Hard conversations are needed in sporting environments at any level – even the mid-2000s Harbour Mixed Indoor Cricket Nationals side, in a dimly-lit industrial Lower Hutt carpark, had difficult conversations around which players needed to up their game for the tournament. Players can’t get precious about it.
In a professional environment, there needs to be acceptance and understanding that these conversations are part of the expected operations of the team. And that appears to be the case. Hockey New Zealand have said the coach and senior players have cleared the air, and that nothing further will come of it. Everyone is moving on.
And rightly so. In the current climate of more serious and unprofessional coaching behaviours – *cough* women’s football and track cycling *cough* – this is an egg-on-the-face moment for Hager more than anything.
What’s happened here is a product of a slow sports news week. With no weekend rugby to analyse, and Bledisloe teams yet to be announced, something had to fill the gap. That’s the real work-on here – finding stories worthy of talking about, rather than a coach doing his job.
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