Mary Helen Sprecher 2013-05-01 02:43:22
Overcoming More than Adversity I ONCE INTERVIEWED A RACE DIRECTOR who gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever heard: “Be ready to overcome obstacles.” He was talking about the need to plan everything in advance, leaving nothing to chance because inevitably, on race day, there would be unpredicted and unexpected hiccups in the program, things that demanded last-minute reconnoitering. It was advice that stuck with me, simply because it’s as true in directing a sports event as it is in putting together an issue of a magazine. And I imagine it’s true in most other career paths. Recently, all of us in the sports event management industry – and the country as a whole – were transfixed and horrified when a nightmare we never could have imagined unfolded on one of the biggest sports event stages in the country. The fact that it was caused by something out of the control of the athletes, the race management, the sponsors and the spectators, made it worse. But in the chaos, we saw people do exactly what the race director had exhorted: overcome. It wasn’t simply an obstacle they were surmounting; it was our darkest fear, but out of it came heroes, courage and a great show of strength. The race director who gave me the advice was none other than Dave McGillivray. Dave McGillivray is the man who in minutes went from overseeing one of the world’s best-loved marathons, to standing in the middle of what looked like a war zone and working in a makeshift command center set up by the FBI. As news reports filtered in, we saw images of the staff of the Boston Marathon, working side by side with emergency workers, volunteers and others, helping to take back control of a situation that had spiraled suddenly and sickeningly out of control. That day, all of us felt a chill, and we shuddered, wondering about our own events, our own families and our own safety. But watching Dave’s exemplary performance, and that of his staff, not to mention the city as a whole, I started to feel safer. Our industry is strong. It is resilient. It is ready to overcome obstacles, whatever they are. Like runners, we’ll keep finding our way forward. MARY HELEN SPRECHER has been a technical writer for more than 20 years with the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the national association of designers, builders and suppliers of materials for athletic facilities. She has worked in meeting and convention planning for non-profit associations, and previously was a staff writer for a Baltimore, Maryland newspaper. She is a graduate of the Institute for Organization Management, a professional development program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and has taught meeting planning and event management courses in the continuing studies program at Goucher College, located in Towson, Maryland. Her freelance writing includes coverage of topics in the areas of fitness, health, sports medicine and special education.
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