— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) August 17, 2016
The best way to manage a crisis is to avoid one completely. Josh Donaldson just did that. The present day news cycle is rapid. Deprived of a meaty story, the media will move on. They did.
It is crucial to first set the scene. After striking out, Josh Donaldson threw his bat from the top step into the dugout right passed the head of Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. Gibbons then turned and confronted Donaldson as he was shoving his helmet into the rack. Words were exchanged between the two at a very intimate distance, and Blue Jays shortstop eventually separated the two. The dugout confrontation was caught on national television and later splashed all over sports networks.
This situation was recipe for a quintessential sports drama and media fiasco – trouble in paradise. Why? The Toronto Blue Jays are in first place heading into the final stretch of the season. Josh Donaldson, the reigning Most Valuable Player, is the biggest contributor to the team’s current success. A scuffle broke out between Donaldson and John Gibbons. One can imagine reporter salivating over writing potential headlines suggesting the tension would damage the clubhouse, and sink the Blue Jays.
But it didn’t happen.
The story was squashed before it even started. Here is a clip of Donaldson’s response to a reporter’s prying questions about the confrontation.
When asked what happened between him and manager John Gibbons, Donaldson gave reporters nothing to chew on and instead diffused the situation with humor. The tone of his answer implies that two professionals handled the issue themselves, and moved on. He averted a potential crisis and team damaging story by presenting himself in a lighthearted manner, and signaling to the media that there is nothing left to be said, it is a non-issue.
Admittedly, this scenario certainly does not carry the brawn and life altering consequences that other situations do, but there is still a crucial lesson in crisis management to be learned. Do not make something bigger than it needs to be, and it will naturally fade – the news cycle will wash right over and cling to something with more meat. The American swimmer with the bleached hair can attest. Hey Lochte, are you listening?