A very interesting finding which emanated form the Abrivia 2018 Salary Survey is that the involvement of an employee in sport, notably GAA, was cited by 36% of employers as a major harbinger of career success and of a willingness to help others in the workplace.
Immediately I asked myself the question, why is this so?
The vision of the GAA is that “everybody has the opportunity to be welcomed to take part in our games and culture, to participate fully, to grow and develop and to be inspired to keep a lifelong engagement with our Association.” The above vision does not explain the results of the Salary Survey so let’s delve a little further.
In a similar vein to most businesses who are involved in talent development or succession planning, most GAA teams look at the potential of each individual player and compare it to their overall performance. “Potential gems” are players with low performance levels but who have high potential. “High potential players” are as it says on the tin, people with high potential but have low levels of performance. “Star players” are high performance and high potential players on the playing pitch.
To support potential, the GAA looks at mentoring players in regards their confidence, decision making, concentration, game intelligence and leadership. There is a focus on leadership ability, decisiveness and how to read a game, all important traits that can be brought into the boardroom. Players are kept motivated by coaches making them understand the bigger picture and how their role on the playing pitch fits in with the bigger picture. Performance and potential are generally recognised by GAA coaches and support is given to players to continuously develop their skillset. The above observations are courtesy of Prof. Anthony Mc Donnell of University College Cork in his excellent presentation Strategy to success: Managing Talent in Organisations.
But doesn’t the same apply to soccer, rugby basketball(etc)?
That is true but we must think of scope and scale when interpreting why the GAA was specifically singled out in the Salary survey as a harbinger of career success. According to the Irish Times, the GAA accounts for over 30% of all sports attendances in Ireland. Despite soccer having over twice the participation rate of the GAA, at 4.8%, the GAA way outstrips soccer in regards fans attending live events. In 2017, rugby accounted for just over 8% of all sporting attendances in Ireland (Source: PledgeSports). Despite a ferocious growth in the popularity of rugby, this is still a far cry off the GAA’s 30% of total attendances. Over 55,000 Dublin GAA jerseys were sold in 2016. When we put this in perspective, sales of the Dublin jersey outstripped (no pun intended!) sales of the Republic of Ireland soccer jersey and Irish rugby shirts in 2016.
Taking all the above into consideration, especially when you focus in on the level of support for the GAA in Ireland, it is less of a surprise that 36% of employers cited sport and most notably the GAA as a major harbinger of career success.