04-28-2012, 06:59 AM
I won't offer any personal opinions on the (s)he said/(s)he said aspects that are indistinguishable from gossip, or the supposed political machinations with which I am entirely unfamiliar. So that leaves me with a fairly narrow range of topics on which to comment , but nevertheless:
-Generally, there is no tight correlation between how well a coach did in their own athletic career and their subsequent success as a coach. Bela Karolyi was apparently a mediocre gymnast. Bob Knight, widely considered one of the all-time geniuses of college basketball coaching, was not a world-class player himself (possibly because chair-throwing was never introduced as an Olympic sport); at Ohio State, he was a scrub who rarely made it off the bench. The consensus greatest teacher in modern golf, Butch Harmon, was a marginal tour pro for a couple of years who started his coaching gig lining up putts for the King of Morocco. It's almost a rule of thumb in baseball that the best coaches are the guys who never had much talent (relatively speaking), but who tried to make up for it by being smart in all aspects of the game. Frank Carroll won a couple of medals at the junior national level, but did not go beyond that.
The first and primary job of a coach is to "impart knowledge" on the correct way to do things, in terms of technique and training regimen. How to pull a ball to left field, or feather a jump shot, or the principles of a fade, or the required mechanics for a 3f-3t. Many more people possess this knowledge than can become champions at doing it.
On the other hand, what distinguishes a great coach, IMO, is not necessarily the knowledge, but the ability to "impart". This requires a skill-set very different from, and perhaps just as rare as, the actual doing. In many cases, being a great champion may actually work against you as a coach, for reasons of ego, impatience, the inability to understand how someone can't immediately do what seems obvious/easy to the former great champion, etc. This is not to say a champion can't be a great coach, just that the skill-sets are not necessarily joined at the hip.
In the case of Brian Orser, my view is that the fact that he was a World Champion, or conversely, that he was never Olympic Champion, is not decisive in determining his coaching abilities. That he coached Yuna to World and Olympic championships is, personally speaking, a strong prima facie case that he is a great coach. Although the question of whether he just managed to catch lightning in a bottle can only be fully answered as his coaching career progresses (the criteria to be applied, however, shouldn't be as narrow as producing another OGM winner. OGMs are rare; Frank Carroll only had one in a career that spanned almost five decades).
-As anyone who has participated in sports in any systematic way will know, the coach's ability to successfully "impart" is actually a two-way street. First, it very much has to do with the fit between the coach's strengths and the weaknesses of the pupil, and the importance of this increases in direct proportion with the pupil's demonstrated abilities. Second, the importance of "chemistry" cannot be understated, at any level. There is always talk about the "coachability" factor (Mirai being a currently popular poster child), but in my view, coachability is generally not all on the pupil. Sometimes it is at least partially a function of the coach's pedagogical (which often means psychological) skills, and sometimes it's just a matter of clashes of personality and styles.
I would very much hope that Team Yuzuru had these considerations very much front and center in their decision-making. If these things aren't right, then in my untutored opinion, any calculations of political advantage, prestige, etc. are like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Last edited by Robeye; 04-28-2012 at 07:02 AM.
04-28-2012, 07:32 AM
Robeye, that's a wonderful analysis. I can bear out the premise that sometimes the best teacher isn't the best doer. Years ago, I went to an art class over the summer. In my room, the drawing teacher was amazingly articulate, clear, and helpful. Everyone benefited from his commentary, even people who were just onlookers as he went over someone else's drawings. Some of his work was on display, and it was pedestrian at best. In the next room was the watercolor instructor. He could barely talk. If he wanted to let you know something, he had to paint on your picture and demonstrate. But his work was everything a watercolor should be. I once watched him make an ocean wave on a sheet of paper. A flick of the wrist and two strokes, and he made a curve of water with sunlight shining through part of it. And this was in watercolor, perhaps the least forgiving of media: you can't go over a section to correct it, as you can with oil, acrylic, pastel, or pencil. What's more, the inarticulate watercolor artist was a native English speaker, whereas the articulate drawing teacher learned English as an adult. Some people are just born to teach--as Frank Carroll clearly was, and a few others.
I had a good feeling about Brian Orser in this regard throughout his work with YuNa. I don't know what he did exactly: did he refine her jump technique? Just keep her from losing what she had naturally? Bring out her artistic voice? Whatever else he did, he certainly seems to have protected her from the almost incomparable pressure she faced. As a teacher, he seems to have crafted the best possible relationship with a student during a time when the stakes were as high as they could get. The collaboration between Orser and Kim created an unbelievable trajectory straight up. (Which made it all the more upsetting when they split, but that's another story). Clearly he's a good coach, and time may prove that he's a great one. I think Hanyu would be an ideal student for him, and I hope this is how things turn out.
As for the politics of the situation, I am illiterate on such things in general, so I will refrain from commenting. Let the future show itself in its own time.
Last edited by Olympia; 04-28-2012 at 07:38 AM.
04-28-2012, 10:00 AM
Great example, Olympia (all the more so because I can't draw worth a lick ). The only thing I would venture to add is that, while most students may benefit more from the drawing teacher's methods, there may be some that find the watercolor teacher's way more instructive. And, to extend the analogy with skating further (which I've privately vowed to do more explicitly from here on, what with my partiality for meandering about Neptunian mollusks and such ), competitive skating is like trying to get a diploma from one of those Beaux Arts schools of yore, where you might need to demonstrate competence in a number of areas, including drawing, watercolor, oils, etc. If you're already a whiz at watercolor, then you might need to focus on shoring up your grades in drawing. You need to mix and match your course of study to your specific needs, as well as to your most effective styles of learning. The implication being that the best teacher for you may not be the best teacher for everyone else at any given time.
I don't follow mens skating as closely as ladies, but Hanyu seems like a big talent. If the fit (in terms of strengths and needs) and the chemistry is there, the results could be really good. I'd be interested in specific thoughts on the potential fit (as defined) between Hanyu and Brian. The chemistry, it seems to me, can only be assessed a bit after the fact.
04-28-2012, 11:22 AM
Just come back from holiday and see this news , I'm devastated. He + Abe have a chemistry that I don't see Brian have with his student. And I think that chemistry is a part that make him success. The style Abe give him may not be the best but it make him unique and interesting but now we will never know.........
By the way, I hope this is his entire decision, not Japanese fed.
Last edited by treeloving; 04-28-2012 at 11:29 AM.
04-28-2012, 03:54 PM
I agree this would be the best solution, however if I am the sport agent to broker this deal, I would want Hanyu to 'cut the cord' incase he decided half way through that he prefer to stay in Japan after all and what he has with Abe works perfectly fine, when all he need is just better choreography programs (which he does). Anyone knows if Hanyu is signed with IMG?
Originally Posted by suezeeq
The agent want to ensure this in case:
1) They lose their brokering fee if Hanyu back out half way through. Hanyu can not afford to do this now in this critical season if he has parted with Abe already.
2) Made their client Orser look bad when in actual Hanyu might just change his mind half way through if he is also working with Abe at the same time, due to the crazy logistics and expenses that come with it travelling from Japan to Toronto.
3) Loose power of control and influence over Hanyu as a client. They probably want to cultivate a relationship where he get used to completely rely on them, otherwise they won't able to surcharge the additional management fee that can comes with deals like this, as well as level of exclusivity. Hanyu has become a valuable sporting commodity these years with a very rich federation in full support.
The agent however will sell this in another way, making excuses such as to say something like: 'one coach's advice might work against another', 'it is better to have focus, one at a time'; 'why waste good money'? etc.. All of them can be true, except one can also build up a good case for the opposite. That frequent and familiar supervision is better better than none. That it is just as important to have 'higher quality' coaching in this critical year as well as ensure someone can monitor these coaching instructions effectively on a daily basis when Hanyu is not in Toronto, especially for a skater with as a sensitive and delicate health condition that require constant monitoring, while building up to a Olympic gold worthy performance in 2 years time without injuries.
Last edited by os168; 04-28-2012 at 04:05 PM.
04-28-2012, 06:08 PM
Are you sure brokering is involved in coaching selection and agreement? Only the top skaters have agents or managers (who are often their parents) to negotiate performing contracts while all skaters have coaches and these relationships sometimes do terminate abruptly.
Orser said he didn't have any contract with Kim. He simply billed for his hours (which I remember as very reasonable).
04-28-2012, 08:38 PM
That is what I am wondering. In someways any NEW world class level coach and a NEW student relationship is likely bit of a cloak and dagger game, and I really doubt any federation or skaters themselves would call up a named coach directly, especially if they happen to be from a rival nation and especially if they used to be a direct rival.
Originally Posted by SkateFiguring
There are lots of risks involved without going through an agency. There are risks of rejections, fees, terms and conditions need to be negotiated and agreed. If the talk broke down, no hard feelings, everything is done discreetly, no one can look bad privately or publicly, and it doesn't mean they won't be able to work together in the future. Similarly, it could work the other way round. A world class coach may like the look of someone they wish to work with and ask their agent to help. It has a higher chance of happening if they belong to the same agency already and actually it would be in the interest of agency to cultivate this network relationship which they have sole exclusivity to as well as logistic advantages. There are advantages and disadvantages for the skaters/coaches, they have less bargaining power at the same time they might be closed to this network of business opportunities. That's why in show businesses, you tend to find the same groups of people work in the same production team regularly. It is easier to broker from a talent's agency's perspective. It happens all the time among top executives in multinational business too, with the head hunters pulling the string and earning their 20% in the process. It is not unusual you suddenly find one of your rival/rival team playing for the home team this year. They are likely to have poached through a head hunting agency and now you have gained competitive advantage.
What is the difference between Hanyu this year before and after the world championship? Why is his current action defied his previous interviews? Something must have changed his mind since winning the bronze. Before, he was just a young contender who want to stay in Japan to train and don't even have cell phones to save money for his parents. After WC, he is now one of the top favourites for Sochi and all of a sudden talking about travelling to Toronto to work with an OGM team. Did he sign with anyone recently? Or maybe had been merely a candidate, but now qualified his placement with proven result? Deals like this don't happen over night, it is likely to have been planned months or years ahead strategically by an agency, with a list of possible candidates, a list of possible coaches, and a priority list of lucrative placements deals they can work towards to.
I remember Orser has signed with IMG immediately after the OGM result 2 years ago, along with Adam and Christiana. Any agency who signed new clients, it is about developing a roadmap to maximize their revenue stream for profit, and exploit any success the client have achieved and likely to achieve in the future. Strictly speaking from a business perspective, Yuna's relationship with Orser is infact a liability for IMG, especially since she has established her own agency since the Olympics. If nothing is signed, nothing can be officially brokered and commission earned. The big bonuses from the commercials and shows they did together in Korea, it is likely Yuna's agency would broke it themselves or go direct, and her shows has rarely ever featured IMG skaters (deliberately or otherwise is open to debate considering their past history.)
Consider IMG's existing pool of talents from rich federations such as Japan that has proven history willing to pay top dollars for a 'branded' and 'proven' OGM team, such as they have done for Morozov after Torino and Tat etc. What happens 2 years later now does makes alot of sense. After Hanyu, I am expecting the cricket club will see alot more Japanese skaters going for training, coaching and choreography. If Yasuru has signed with IMG (timing is a key indicator), then this end result would make tons of sense. Especially why Hanyu decide to leave out Abe's all together which I'd argue is not for his interest at all. It smell like an agency pulling the strings to me, and JSF going along for the ride having always used the same tactic to achieve success.
Parents as agent can be tricky and negotiation do end abruptly because it is hard not to take it personally for your children if the deal went haywire. At the same time, they at least prioritise what they think is the best interest for their children, unquestionable loyalty, trust instead of one driven purely by profit. By the way do you know if Patrick is an independent or signed with any particular agency? I wonder because he has not always had the good press he deserved or the sponsorship he need, something a good agency should able to provide.
Last edited by os168; 04-28-2012 at 09:07 PM.
04-29-2012, 01:47 AM
Does Yuzuru HAVE to sign with an agency? What benefits does he get? Better news coverage (I think he gets lots of that already though...)? Funding? What does signing with an agency even really mean?
Originally Posted by os168
04-29-2012, 08:50 PM
It is hard to answer this question without some confirmation.
Originally Posted by suezeeq
Has he signed with a new agent?
Has he changed agent recently?
Who is the new agent and when did he sign?
It is said he intend to do a formal press conference about this soon which would indicate someone - likely the sporting agency who brokered this deal wanting to buy their PR team/firm some time to weigh-in public opinions so to come back with a favourable response that can seamlessly spin this into a good positive story to ease any concerns or negative reactions back home. It is very much like a PR/political campaign, where they will likely to work/tutor those involved to ensure everyone will come out smell like roses, especially if they belong to the same agency.
The funding issue is an interesting one. I have always assumed someone in Hanyu's situation has to rely a lot on public funding but since he wasn't even a top 3 favourite last year in Japan, and the funding process usually take a year to get assign upon proven result. Hanyu would appear to be in a very vulnerable position last year, maybe this situation have also been taken into consideration by the new sport agency to approach him and convince him making these big changes.
Sport is a business. All businesses are driven by profit. Allow me to go a bit off tangent here, but the role of the agencies can give clues to why certain decisions and results are the way they are and not what they always appeared. While it is the skaters and coaches who are the public faces of the sport, but their power are limited without someone bridging everything and everyone together, to propagate the 'happenings' while the 'talents' are protected from any ugly side of the business or decision making. We often discuss how politics can impact the sport, but that cannot be achieved without someone carry out these influences. It is likely an agency that has monopolised the market like IMG can substantially shape and cast big influence over the sport, something that's are rarely ever get addressed on these boards. In show business, the most powerful people are not the movie stars, but the talent agents/agencies, then the studio, then someone from production, likely the producers and director. Figure skating industry is not exactly like the show business, but they shares remarkable similar characteristics.
When one hit the big leagues like Hanyu has done and achieved success on the podium, someone in the sport stand to lose apart from his direct competitors and their federations. There are commercial interests such as sponsorship/endorsement deals, it impact other agencies and their customers, skating shows, franchises etc.. all on the line. The only way they don't loose out is by signing him and likely to prep a good attractive package to ensure he stays with them.
Why is show biz agency like CAA in Hollywood described as 'powerful'? What do these agency do exactly to justify their % of someone's earning?
Actually a lot - IF they are a good agency.
Apart from able to bargain better pay for their 'star', they have better collective bargaining power because they represent so many talents. They should be capable to generate better quality and higher volumes of possible sponsorship/endorsement deals and establish multiple revenue streams for their talent. They should be capable to proactively putting together big deals that can groom talent like Hanyu into major sport stars and eventually international superstars. If it works, there are at least 10 years of lucrative billing because of this this young man - provide he continue to deliver of course.
Agencies like these are likely to plan out career road maps years ahead for their brightest stars. Surround them with the best people to work with. They are likely have good relationship with the rule makers, the key decision makers, the money people that are important and influential to the sport. The agencies are likely to have a media savvy PR team that can readily spin public opinions to generate good publicity for their clients, their work etc. These include public internet forums, blogs believe it or not. Basically a good agency should able to offer a fully managed services to ensure their clients are well taken care of while maximise their earning potentials. That may sound all good in theory, but reality is something else.
The dark side of agency business is tricky. Usually when an organisation has grown so big and powerful - power can lead to corruption and ethics is hardly a priority. It is common to find major agencies constantly trying to undermine rival agencies and their clients for the interest of their own representation (who has plausible deniability since they 'know nothing'), and actually look to take clients off the rival agencies. Any leading skater winning or being dominant that are not represent by the said agency is considered bad for the business and and they will likely trying to undermine them in order to prop their own clients.
A large scale agency often can get sponsorship deals where they have multiple candidate suitable for, but this can lead to potential in- fighting among the account executives. With multiple candidates qualifying for the same endorsement deals, it can leads to senior management selectively sabotage their own clients internally, when certain new star/deals can deem more profitable for the agency compare with an existing talent on a long contract with a lower commission rate agreed. No surprise who they'd favour more to in the interest of profit. Conversely, 2 new endorsement deals are available, one is more prestigious for charity, the other is more lucrative financially, the agency s likely to coax the talent to accept the more lucrative one, or at worst, don't even tell the talent about the other opportunity at all and keep the freebie for someone other candidate that is not doing so well can enjoy bit of a free publicity etc.
If anyone has ever been approached by head hunters in the past, you'd know they would aim to become your best friend, confidant, the person you intimately disclose your job dissatisfaction to. Issues you don't normally discuss with your friends or colleagues are brought up. Sensitive matters such as to do with your pay, complaints about colleagues, personalities conflicts, describe your work environment/conditions, how you wish to grow your career, who in the industry you admire and want to work with, and pass a lot of gossips through the grapevine to reel you into a 'false circle of trust'. A small problem brought up in meeting 1 is likely to have been developed into bigger problems by the 2nd or 3rd meeting, and likely by the 4th meeting they'd convince you that you deserve much better pay and treatment, and they have got exactly the right 'opportunity' to help you to grow, how much more 'valuable' you are to them, or that they suddenly have some exclusives roles available and that they think you deserve first 'look in'because you are just so 'special' and 'right for it' etc. ie/ Lot of ego stroking and open your eyes to new possibilities, to make you aware that actually your current situation is not that ideal after all since your rivals are getting this and that which you are not getting etc...
Positives of an agency service.
- They can genuinely help you. If you come from a humble place, talented and hungry like Hanyu, and you happen to be blessed from a rich federation, an agency can stand to make alot of money off them through you. If they do their job well, all your problems will suddenly disappear. They don't even need to rely on federation finance when the commercial revenues kicks in. The earlier they sign you, the more favourable terms it is for the agency, but the more they risk given there are more work to get you started (30% commission possible). I assumed Hanyu would have been signed by someone already even before winning the Junior Championship, probably by a local representation. Big agencies would certainly have approached Hanyu after the previous contract expires, or if they really believe in him, they might have bought out his old contract to sign him on (10% is desirable, though 15% - 20% is more likely for freshers). If that is the case, then there likely to be some sort of tie in period and exclusivity agreement, but overall should offers better financial security and better managed services including training. If he is not getting this, he should change agency asap.
- In this sport, money can be earned outside competitions, in skating shows, merchandising, book deals, public appearances, sponsorship deals, exclusives, ads campaigns etc. A good agency will take care of all that for him.
- If someone in your industry admire you and want to work with you, they can also do this via their agency to your agency. If the two belong to the same agency, this would make things easier to negotiate and manage. Usually candidates stand to earn approximately 10%-30% pay rise or incentives from any major change. The broker fee are charged to the organisation that buys or/and the one ask for this deal. The talent pays nothing.
- Good agencies usually come with a good PR team. Or they are suppose to. They should be great at spinning stories that able to represent their clients well. Contacts, Experience, Knowledge, Foresights, and putting across a convincing persuasion are the bread and butter for these type of agencies apart from good basic business competencies. Before they approach any candidate, they are likely to have known everything about their target already, and likely to know how to grow their career better than the talent themselves.
It is easy to became a pawn in this game of sweetness and deception. In the long run, a talent's interests can be undermined in favourable of agency interests driven by profit and internal politics.
- The candidates can get exploited to gain information about their trade, their business links, inner circle, friends, colleagues, disclose sensitive and confidential information 'off records'. These information can all became valuable assets to the agency that can be eventually lead to a new sale in the near future. In some ways, an established agency collect everyone's little secrets which they can use to exploit in the future. Knowledge is power after all.
- If your agency also represent your rivals, there could be some major conflict of interests. It is possible you may find yourself in direct competition with someone else within the same agency for the same roles, but due to internal politics, agency decide shaft you in favour their other client, and put you in the less desirable position. This may not apply to Hanyu now, but in the future who knows. If he suddenly have an injury, not able to produce the good result and has become a liability when JSF prefer to put their financial backing to someone else, he might find himself stuck in a rut. Maybe it has happened to someone else already, with this new coaching arrangement that might have been previous reserved for someone else in the agency but is now available to Hanyu.
- Your current employer want to get rid of you or wanting to put their backing behind someone else, so they pay an agent to head hunt you to go elsewhere 'better' so the company doesn't have to pay compensation for firing you while make both party look bad to in the process. The cost of hiring is someone new is cheaper and more attractive than firing. The agency also stand to earn from selling you off to someone else. The more turnover the industry, the better it is for the business as far as the agency is concerned.
- A rival organisation want to get rid of their strongest rivals - So they hired a head hunter to poach the key player/ team away from their rival to ensure they gain competitive advantage while crippling their rival in the process. This is usually publically frowned upon so they need to strategize some sort 'clever' publicity campaign to go on a media offensive to sell this change to the public/ industry. They can usually do this via some sympathetic stories or spin some other distraction that has nothing to do with the real issue at hand. Politicians are very good at playing this game, exploit the gullible public and the sensationalised nature of mass media.
- It is likely once a candidate get tied to a system, it can mean less freedom overall to pick and choose how much they want to do and allowed not to do, particularly on jobs/roles that does not fit within the agency financial interest. Charity work suddenly become a liability unless they can mince the heck out of it to generate good publicity for their 'talent'.
Yazuru has said to have done over 60 shows over last season, it implies
1) He is very affordable
2) He need the money
3) He need the ice time
4) Someone is very good at managing this for him.
5) If he isn't signed with anyone then, and the agent is not getting their % typically derived from placement like these, they are probably kicking themselves. It hurts their business when they could have represented him and earned their %.
Considering all the above. It is only a matter of when and with who Hanyu sign with somebody if he isn't already. He need to be aware though, even working with a well known /reputable agencies have great benefits, he need to becareful that his personal interests are not overshadowed by the agency's financially interests to make off him. A contingency plan should be in place if it doesn't work out with the current arrangement.
Hanyu is probably Japan's biggest commercial dream figure skating star since Mao. If he is not signed already by now, then clearly someone is not doing their job properly.
Hope it answers your question. If not, I apologise for the long rant. Once every blue moon, once i start, it is hard to stop :P
Last edited by os168; 04-29-2012 at 09:34 PM.
04-29-2012, 09:30 PM
"Show me the Money!"
But first you've got to have Quan.
04-30-2012, 01:19 PM
Hi, Becki ! May I correct you regarding Yuzuru's father's profession? He is a Vice-Principal of one of Sendai's Junior High School, and also he used to be a mathematics teacher at Junior High School. He coaches baseball voluntarily.
05-01-2012, 09:29 AM
os168, thanks for insightful and interesting posts as always.
05-02-2012, 10:44 PM
Originally Posted by Olympia
he is useless after Sochi. I heard His image is worst in Korea, which will hold 2018 Olympics. Nobody would dare to sit with him in K&C in 2018. If he acted wise like Priscilla Hill when he parted with his student, he could be a hero in Korea now. and That would be good for his business,too.
Orser needs to learn basic coaching skills now. I don't think he knows those basics as a coach. how to cope with the situations when students leave the coach.. how to react students in K&C when they underperformed.
Orser never would imagine Korea hold the 2018 winter olympics when he made a fuss and manipulated media. I think he is not that smart when I saw him act like Guru or Yoda right after Olympics. That's OK anyway, but I didn't imagine he is that stupid to manipulate media over his ex-student and her parent. even revealed her next season programs,which he was not supposed to.
And, I don't think he acted it all by himself. He even cannot do a coaching job independently. Only thing what I can say Now is ''Stupid and mean''. ''Totally useless and meaningless thing''. I don't know whether he is puppet or not, and I don't want to know.......... But, It is Orser who got to live with what he did.
I recommend to skaters Michelle Kwan or David Wilson for a coach in 2018 olympics ,which will make good impressions on Koreans and spectators. Of course , I doubt it ... Kwan is busy, and Wilson is shy.
Last edited by johnny 80; 05-03-2012 at 12:22 AM.
05-03-2012, 12:58 AM
It's funny how before the breakup, Yuna's fans were singing Brian's praises. After the breakup, all of a sudden, he's a coach who doesn't know how to coach; he didn't do anything, it was all David Wilson...blah, blah, blah. So predictable.
Originally Posted by johnny 80
05-03-2012, 01:43 AM
Originally Posted by chloepoco
How do you know what the hell I thought then? Are you some kind of intellectual snob? Do you believe all media is saying? I didn't praise him. I don't believe that kind of fairy tales in this real world. Even Frank got the first student as OGM in Vancouver after 40 years of his coaching job.
I didn't like his bragging about himself even before olympics. In long interview with NBC , He acted like Guru.
On the contrary, Carrol humbly said he didn't expect OGM from Evan that much.
Orser has nothing special then and now. he doesn't have coaching experience. That was the total luck.. If he had coaching experience at least for 5 years before he took Kim as a student , I would think differently.
Most of all, after Kim left him, I don't see any skater under his tutelage advance after he/she comes to him. He should stop poaching excellent students who come to get choreography from Wilson. All he needs now is learning basic coaching skills and starting his independent coaching job without David... It is not too late.
Last edited by johnny 80; 05-03-2012 at 03:08 AM.