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The Clubhouse: What effects it has and how it affects a team

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Posted 10-23-2016 at 05:20 PM by PutIntoPlay

We recently saw how abrasive the relationship between the players of the White Sox are with their management. They have fundamentally sound team that for the most part underperforms, based on the talent and experience their roster has.

The way their troubles manifested themselves publicly is how the clubhouse is being run.

The clubhouse has always been run by the players. Or should I say, it is run by the players when the team is successful. Teams that fail have many reasons for failing, but universally, there is problems in the clubhouse that start the trouble.

Adam LaRouche was so taken back by the White Sox management demands of scaling back his teenage son's presence in the locker room, that he walked away from earning nearly 15 million dollars for the year 2016.

His teammates were vocal in their support, and it shows that this team is quite family oriented. Some fans have displayed support in management's favor, saying that the clubhouse, while it is an environment where some family contact must occur because of the hours involved in the team, it is not a place where constant contact should be.

But what many fans seem to be overlooking, and I would venture to guess much of their complaints on this issue stem from the investment they have in their fantasy rosters, and wanting their professional players to appear professional at all costs, is that the clubhouse is not your normal office.

Clubhouses have large shower rooms, with hot tubs, private shower stalls, saunas, and many other amenities meant to help players relax after grueling games and practices.

They also have recliners, and many other creature comforts. They also come complete with their own support staff, whose job it is to cater to the requests of team and player alike, to ensure those player's needs are met, all in a pursuit of less distraction, and maximum production.

But clubhouses are a product of the players. Some clubhouses may be a haven for young, single players, who act a bit immature, and carry on loud, ominous routines in an effort to "pump each other" up.

Sometimes clubhouses are low key, in most instances anyway, and are more sanctuary away from the show outside, then a continuation of the team's identity.

And sometimes a clubhouse is family oriented place, where because of the make up of the players collectively, families are a priority, and to tell players otherwise would be a mistake.

This is what happened with the 2016 Chicago White Sox, and it gives a moment to recognize how a clubhouse environment informs the relationship between player and management, and how that factors into the on-field performance.

A lot could be said about the White Sox this season, but if you were to say they'd fall below .500 this season, many experts would say you were wrong. And the team itself, would have doubted you. At least, early on.

But it is quite clear that what the players experienced through the experience of LaRouche, is that one of the things they valued over all other aspects of their employer, was the freedom they had in the clubhouse.

To some degree, management does have a right to control the environment. For example, the media has access to the clubhouse, and as such, the players are expected to entertain the questions of the media. That's a no-brainer, no matter what side of this discussion you're on. Even if you're a player who doesn't like the questions being asked, you can't say this is unreasonable. Of course, it would be nice if they left players alone in the shower room, but that's a different discussion.

What management cannot control, and should attempt to, is control the environment the players desire. Afterall, this is their prep room. This is their post-game room. This is where they inhale and exhale before and after significant moments of pressure, if not in the dugout.

The fact that a management group would attempt to control that environment, well the results speak for themselves, 78-84.

A lot of people will try to avoid saying this had anything to do with their season. They'll blame coaching, offensive production, defense, pitching, and the list goes on. All these things factor into success in baseball, there is no doubt.

But when you don't look forward to actually being at work, because your office is under a dictatorship, what chance will you have at meeting the external goals of your organization?

This is another element that should be in OOTP. The clubhouse, and how to manage it.

With the bench coach role, we already have some glimpse into that reality. But there are a number of things not placed into the full picture. Players will demand items for the clubhouse, either individually, or as a team. That ought to be something you have to make room for, or decide not to.

Free Agents will come with expectations from other clubhouses they've been in, and those things may not jibe with the current clubhouse atmosphere. Again, another element to manage that is valid.

The list of details that a clubhouse brings, that can exude, or curtail success are plentiful and a ripe element for OOTP to include in game play.

If evidence of the past wasn't enough, the 2016 White Sox have driven the point home.

That's all for now.
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