The Plan That Made No Sense
No matter how well-intentioned our plan is, it can quickly go off the rails if we don’t seriously think through its logistics.
Last weekend, the University of South Carolina decided to mark the 50th anniversary of Title IX with a brief ceremony at its football game against No. 1 Georgia.
So, it invited its 275 female athletes onto the field after the first quarter to be recognized by the crowd of 77,000 fans.
But what ensued wasn’t really a nice tribute or poignant gesture. It was a leadership fiasco.
The ceremony apparently took longer than expected, dozens of female athletes were still walking along the back of the end zone and got booed as the second quarter was set to begin, and Gamecocks Coach Shane Beamer was captured on TV yelling, “Get off the field!”
This is minor league, South Carolina. Embarrassing, and Beamer knows it.
A literal WTF moment. Be better.
— Marc Ryan (@MarcRyanOnAir)
Sep 17, 2022
"We were on the field for maybe 15 seconds then screamed at to get off," South Carolina women's soccer player Jyllissa Harris tweeted. "If you want to honor female student athletes, then do that, not this."
The incident drew additional blistering criticism on social media, and Beamer and the South Carolina athletic director were forced to answer questions about it and apologize after the game.
But this isn’t about casting blame on the coach or any particular individual. After all, Beamer has reportedly been a strong advocate for women’s sports at the university and said he wasn't even made aware of the ceremony in advance.
The point is that no matter how well-intentioned our plan is, it can quickly go off the rails if we don’t seriously think through its logistics.
It would seem fairly obvious that getting hundreds of people onto a football field, recognizing them, and getting them off would take more than a minute or two and might be better suited for halftime. And yet, the complexities of this were somehow overlooked.
Before we hatch our own plans for brief ceremonies, surprise speeches or others tributes that veer from what we typically do, we might want to consider these questions:
1. Is this plan realistic given time, budget, space constraints?
2. Is there another time or place to execute it where it'd make more sense?
3. Have all the relevant parties been informed of what we're doing?
4. What could go wrong?
Ultimately, South Carolina had the right objective. But intentions without execution can count for very little if the plan runs horribly off course.
There will be missteps, and not every initiative will go off as seamlessly as we hope.
But considering how the concept could unravel in advance can be the difference between a nice memory and a mea culpa.