Chris Grant, CEO of the Sported Foundation, reflects on his time as chair of the BT Sport Industry Awards Judging Panel, and looking ahead to more fascinating discussions in 2018...
Long before “Fake News”, we had “Urban Myths”. Somewhere in between came what you might call “Provocative Red Herrings”, which are “factoids” everyone accepts to be true (but aren’t necessarily), and which are guaranteed to annoy people. Sport provides the source material for many of these. One of the best examples is “they don’t allow competitive sport in schools”, which will get the average lounge bar or coffee table spluttering with indignation, despite the fact that pretty much all schools encourage and promote competition, and it’s clearly an important part of their job to ensure that ALL of their charges enjoy sport, not just the ones who win.
Part of the irony of this is that it’s the Godfather of the modern Olympic Games – otherwise known as the zenith of competitive sport - Baron de Coubertin himself, who came up with “the most important thing is not winning but taking part”. 130 years later, I’m not going to get embroiled in the (de)merits or relevance of the phrase. What I am going to do is attempt to make the case that – when it comes to the BT Sport Industry Awards – only a select handful can win, but there’s a lot to be said for taking part!
I’ve been fortunate enough to chair the judging of the awards three times, and am looking forward to doing so again in the new year. On that basis, you could say that my advocacy here comes from a position of bias. In fact, it’s worse than that. At least part of my motivation for encouraging you to get involved is naked self-interest. Every year so far, I’ve been amazed that the ingenuity, rigour and sheer excellence paraded in front of us through the entries has managed to outshine what came before. For me, and for the 20+ judges, the quality of entries pretty much guarantees one of the most fascinating days of the year. Of course, we take the NDA’s that we sign extremely seriously, and are scrupulous in declaring conflicts and/or interests - all under the watchful gaze of EY - but that doesn’t prevent us from enjoying this rare opportunity to stand on the mountain top and get a 360-degree view of what out there is good, or maybe even great.
Just to reassure you that it’s not all a matter of giving the judges an entertaining day, I can also say that the fairness and rigour of the process provide a great opportunity for you to marshal your own thinking; to ensure that you’ve fully extracted the learning from the work that you’re proudest of, and - yes - to put yourself up against the best of the rest. The fact that both entry and table prices have been frozen at last year’s level means that doing so represents something of a bargain too.
You have until 30th November to get your entries in. Early enough to allow more than 60 industry experts three weeks (a record) to examine every word and pixel in order to whittle things down to the shortlists that I and my fellow judges will take an extended day to get through and vote upon, as explained here.
You may not win, it's true. But there IS huge benefit simply in taking part - and then, you never know…!
Chair of Judges