Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let's Meet

Did you watch the women's Final Four? What did you think of the floor?

Back when Jadwin Gym was being refloored, if such a word exists, TigerBlog was a fan of having the inside of the three-point area be orange and black tiger stripes. Still, he would have drawn the line at the overwhelming amounts of red on the court at the Alamodome.

Seeing it made TigerBlog think of, well, his new toothbrush. TB got a new toothbrush this weekend, and as he was taking it out of the package, he noticed that it said "easy to grip" on the label. What does this have to do with the floor at the Final Four?

They were both the products of meetings. Somebody had a meeting where it was decided that putting a lot of red on the court at the women's Final Four would look good. Somewhere else, there was another meeting where it was decided that "easy to grip" would separate one toothbrush from another.

As an aside, TB finds the new toothbrush no easier to grip than any he's ever had previously. And he never saw the "easy to grip" excitement until after he'd opened the package.

Back in the newspaper days, TigerBlog went to very few meetings. There was a daily meeting of the editors of the different sections, similar to the scenes from "All the President's Men" where the Washington Post editors would discuss that day's layout. This meeting would trigger when a short, stout, completely lovable man named Harry Blaze, who passed away in 2006, would walk into the giant newsroom and shriek "Let's meet."

Here at HQ, we have plenty of meetings from which plenty of decisions are made. Some of them are trivial; others have huge impacts on all kinds of issues that are important not only to the Department of Athletics but also to the way the general public is able to access and view Princeton athletics.

There are no shortage of topics up for discussion here. Even as TB writes this, he is under the gun to finish it in time to meet with the Director of Athletics to talk about Princeton and television, while downstairs there is a meeting of head coaches to talk about NCAA compliance and rules changes/interpretations.

Coaches meet all the time. They watch film, talk recruiting, plan practices. That's just part of how it works. Those meetings don't even begin to scratch the surface of what goes on around here.

There are regular meetings about upcoming events, with regular topics such as parking, TV, seating, promotions and anything else associated with Princeton home games. This meeting is not to be confused with the marketing/ticketing meeting, at which all kinds of other more specific items are on the agenda.

Or, for that matter, the non-ticketing marketing meetings, which touch on issues specific to that area. And then there are the communications/marketing meetings, something that occurs on a weekly basis (or at least in theory does).

Each of these meetings has its own groups and sub-groups, all trying to come up with what is the best way to move forward in terms of publicizing and running events.

Here at HQ, we talk about things that seem somewhat mundane, such as who is going to cover women's hockey when men's hockey is on the road or women's volleyball at 4 if football is at 1 or which game to put on the radio if the last football game and the first basketball game are at the exact same time.

These are all regularly scheduled, recurring meetings. Then there are the department staff meetings, which include the entire athletic department and are held once a month. These meetings, which often feature invited guests from other University areas outside of athletics, are important because of their ability to keep everyone informed on any number of areas and to have the department's larger values reinforced by the Director of Athletics.

Speaking of the AD, he also has several other meetings each year with administrative groups in the department and out that can be best described as strategic planning.

TigerBlog has been sitting through many of these meetings for years. Some of them have been hysterical; others have become quite heated.

Some areas are discussed over and over and over, and then the next time they come up, it's like the topic has never been raised before. Want an example? Basketball doubleheaders at Jadwin. When do we sell tickets for the women's game? The men's game? What if someone wants to come to the women's game but only has a men's ticket? What if someone goes to the women's game and stays for the men's? What if the men's game is first? Reverse all those questions.

TB is a big fan of having specific things to do after a meeting, of having specific decisions made and then acted on. Yes, talking things over is good, but eventually you need to come up with solutions and move forward.

It's not always clear if the decisions that are made are correct, and even the outcome of a certain event doesn't say whether or not the plans that came out of the meetings here worked or didn't work. TB always laughs when he hears people say or reads emails from people who seem to think that things around here happen randomly or without any thought to them.

If anything, they are overthought, all in the name of having Princeton events run as smoothly as possible and of having Princeton Athletics be the best collective unit it could possibly be, from top to bottom, internally and externally. We may not always seem to be there, but it's not for lack of effort.

TB could go on about this, but he has a meeting to get to.

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