Coaches vs. Professors

“Untapped value is often hidden in complementary products and services. The key is to define the total solution buyers seek when they choose a product or service. A simple way to do that is to think about what happens before, during, and after your product is used.” ~ W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Blue Ocean Strategy

Coaches often keep two lists of professors: a recommended list and a not-recommended list. The lists are built over time by former student-athletes who have had either good or bad experiences in particular classes.  It becomes a personalized class bulletin for future student-athletes.

On the surface it seems helpful, but consider the professor’s point of view.

A recruit comes to campus to meet with an academic department chairperson. That chairperson is used to student-athletes frequently missing her classes for games. The student-athletes are gone so often that she thinks their grades are suffering because of it, and she’s become convinced that they can’t do both in college.

Except for a select few majors the chairperson is wrong, and except for a select few professors the coach’s “do-not-take” list is wrong.

Student-athletes recommend professors for all kinds of reasons, but two often-cited ones are that the professor is “cool” or that the class is “easy.” On the flip side, professors on the not-recommended list are often described as “mean” or that his class was “hard.” These aren’t very good reasons to take or not take a class.

We pat ourselves on the back for serving “student-athletes,” but it’s hard to be of service in a bubble.

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