Thinking Like a Sport Leader


We have a new course this semester at Wayne State – Sport Leadership. In it, students will learn what it takes to be a great sport leader. This week, they took a look at a statement from 1909:

“Reflecting on the business of sport during the first decade of the 20th century, P.R. Robinson, president of the New York Sporting Goods Company, concluded that it had been a good decade. Robinson noted tremendous growth in the popularity of sport, particularly in baseball, tennis and golf, football, basketball, fishing and target shooting, and roller skating. Even the business panic of 1907, remarked Robinson, had not hurt the sport industry. “When general trade is down,” he said, “people have more time to devote to sports.” Looking to the future, Robinson saw only good times for the sport business industry. As times became better, he concluded, the demand for high-priced sporting equipment would increase because people would want to perform more effectively” (Robinson, 1909).

Our future leaders were then asked to critically answer questions (see Liz’s post for the exact ones) based on what was in Robinson’s statement. A few responses are found below.

By: Liz De Souze Ghellere

Describe the critical thinking skills (see pg. 22-23 of the course text) Robinson employed to reach his conclusions?

  • I would say that to get to that conclusion, Robinson used the following critical thinking skills:
  • What are the reasons? – We can see by the quotation that we has different reasons to believe that sports industry had a good decade and that he believes it will still grown more.
  • What are the issues and the conclusion? – He utilize the experience, and the many issues to get to a conclusion. So, with what he already know, and with the evidences he has, he got into a conclusion.
  • What are the descriptive assumptions? – His assumptions are based in knowledge and experience, so he can say that it was a good decade and why, and he can “assume” how the future will be based on his experiences.

Summarize the questions you would like to ask Robinson?

  • I would like to ask him if his evidences are good enough and if there is no fallacies in him conclusion.
  • I would ask this, because I believe that money crisis is something very determinant for the sports business. For example: my parents have a sport’s store in Brazil, and there is a economic crisis very strong in Brazil for more than a year now. So, the whole market business is more slow and not as good as it was couple years ago. Therefore, when there is an economic crisis, people focus in spend money is what is essential and crucial to their lives. Most people will not invest in the best equipment, or will not start a new sport and spend money with more products, or even will not change their shoes as often as they did in the past. Because people are focus on save money and spend it with what is more important, and for the most part, sports are in a second plan.

Explain ways in which you could apply Robinson’s comments and approaches to today’s sports industry.

  • The way I could apply his comments to today’s reality is when he talks about products, and how people spend more money buying better equipment when they want to be better. “…the demand for high-priced sporting equipment would increase because people would want to perform more effectively” (Robinson, 1909).
  • A good example of that will be what happened to me every year. I play for the university, and we go by new tennis shoes every new season. Most people that are not proficient in tennis, or do not play it as much as my team does, they can have a regular shoe – and not very expensive. However, we, that spend a lot of hours on court, we need very good shoes, that will last a long time, and that are comfortable. Therefore, we always get shoes that are more than U$ 130 dollars, because we know that if we by shoes that are less than that they will break down, and/or hurt our feet.

Defend whether or not you agree or disagree with Robinson’s conclusions (why or why not).

  • I agree with Robinson in a certain way. I agree that when people get better and better in a sport, they want better equipment, because they know it will help then to perform better. Sometimes, you are very good in a sport, you have the ability, the movements and everything, but you do not have the right equipment. And for the most time, good equipment are very expensive.
  • Another good point is that sports are getting more and more popular. People are more worried about their hearth and their quality of life. So more people are starting new sports, or even taking sports more seriously. People are spending more time, and more money on things related to sports, because now, with marketing, with TV, with information, people know how important it is to exercise. Therefore, we can assume that these people will buy more equipment, clothes, shoes, etc. and spend more money on the sports industry.
  • One more good point is technology. Today technology is so advanced that sports industry comes with something new every year. A new tennis racket (that is more light, and efficient), or new shoes (that are very good to your posture and are very comfortable, and makes you run faster), or new clothes (take dries your sweat faster), etc. So, the industry comes with something new every year, with more information, more technology, and a massive marketing – making people want those products, and making people spend more money in the sports industry. As in the
  • Just one thing that I would be more worry and aware than Robinson, is the economic crisis. When he said, “When general trade is down, people have more time to devote to sports”. (Robinson, 1909). As I said before I believe economics plays a very big role in any type of industry and store, so for sports it would not be different. I do not believe that people have more time to play sports. People will cut their spend, and focus in what is the most important thing for them, which for the most time, are not sports.
  • “Three elements necessary for success in sport management are professional preparation, professional attitude, and career planning and management” (Ross and McCullough, 2014). I totally agree with this quotation for the 2nd chapter of our book. I believe that a Sport industry needs to prepare and plan when the trade is not very good, so knowing that a crisis is close to happen, they can manage the industry so it does not suffer a lot, and they can prevent the trade for any damage.


Robinson, P. R. (1909). Trade prospects for 1909. Sporting Goods Dealer, 20, 31-32.

Pedersen, P. M., & Thibault, L. (2014). Contemporary sport management. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

By: Jacob Galarowic

P.R. Robinson concluded that the first decade of the 20th century had been a good decade for the sporting good community, and that there will continue to be growth in this field (Robinson, 1909). To reach these conclusions, certain critical thinking skills must have been used. Based on Robinson’s responses I would say that he used descriptive assumptions, which led to descriptive conclusions, and ultimately this led to his conclusions. Descriptive assumptions are defined as, “unstated beliefs about how the world is, was, or will be” (Pederson & Thibault, 2014, p 22). While looking back on the decade, Robinson noticed that more time and money had been spent on the sports industry. From here, he was able to make a description conclusion and state that “the demand for high-priced sporting equipment would increase because people would want to perform more effectively” (Robinson, 1909).

Due to the somewhat vague responses that Robinson had made, I would like to ask him what exactly does it mean to have a “good decade”? Does this mean that more people were attending sporting events? Or was the overall gross profit for the New York Sporting Goods Company higher than the previous decade?

Robinson’s comments and approaches could be applied to today’s sports industry in many ways. Researching trends in not only sporting good stores, but also in ticket sales for professional sporting teams, would be one way to apply his approach. Another way would be to gather information on the price of sporting equipment from X amount of years ago until today, taking into account that inflation is inevitable. I would be willing to bet that the prices have slowly increased over the years.

Overall I would say that I agree with Robinson. Today there are many more sporting good stores, fitness centers, sport stadiums, sports bars and programs geared towards sports/ physical fitness in general. I have also noticed that people are willing to pay more for equipment and services, because they believe that it will be beneficial for their sport. For example, a friend of mine is big into power-lifting, and recently bought a lifting belt for supporting his lower back. Well, there was a belt for around $60 available at the store, but he decided to order a belt online for $200 because it was made of better material and he figured he could lift more with that particular belt.


Pedersen, P. M., & Thibault, L. (2014). Contemporary sport management. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Robinson, P. R. (1909). Trade prospects for 1909. Sporting Goods Dealer, 20, 31-32.

By: Damiquel Williams

When thinking about Robinson’s conclusion and what critical thinking skills he used, there are a few. One of the questions he probably asked is, what the issues are. He would probably answer this be saying something along the lines of not much exercise equipment exist now that could help the performance of an athlete in a specific sport. He could also ask himself is there and will there really be a need for sport performance equipment. And will people want to pay the price that he is selling it for. Another question he would ask is what the reasons are. The reasons would be because people would want to improve the sports performance. What are the value conflicts and assumptions? This would be a question to ask because values are abstract ideas that people see as worthwhile. If people see the improvement of sports performance something that is worth the while, then of course they would mind paying for it the product. How good the evidence is another question he might want to ask. In order for him to know that exercise sports equipment is in demand, he must know that it is something that people will be willing to spend money on (Pedersen).

I would ask questions pertaining to the type of equipment he would be manufacturing. How much will the equipment cost? Would it be something that any age group could use? What level of complexity would this machine use? These are all questions that are important to know if the consumer will want to buy this product or not. They is a need for sporting equipment even today. I think that is something that will always be around, and will the sporting industry steady growing, more and more equipment will need to be manufactured.

Even though Robinson had a good conclusion, I would all the way agree with him. All with advancements in technology and knowledge about health and fitness, an athlete no longer need high priced equipment in order to reach peak performance in a sport. Over time we have learned that you can get the same effects using body weight as weightlifting (Weight vs bodyweight). However, I am not heavily involved in every sport there is, so I don’t know what the market is in certain sporting equipment. All sporting equipment doesn’t have to be high priced in order to be effective.


Pedersen, P. M., & Thibault, L. (n.d.). Contemporary Sport Management (5th ed.).

Weights vs bodyweight exercises. (1970, January 01). Retrieved January 19, 2017, from   


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