Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The general manager in the sense contemplated in this article is the executive of a professional sports team responsible primarily for acquiring the rights to player personnel, negotiation of their contracts and reassignment or dismissal of players no longer desired on the team. Many other businesses have a person referred to as the business' general manager, but such positions are outside the scope of this article.
For many years in U.S. professional sports, coaches often served as the general mangers of their teams as well, deciding which players would be kept on the team and which ones dismissed, and even negotiating the terms of their contracts in concert with the ownership of the team, provided that the team were owned by someone other than the coach. (Many sports teams in the early years of U.S. professional sports were coached by the owner of the team.) As the money involved in professional sports increased greatly and the business aspects of it became paramount considerations, most organizations saw fit to separate the positions of coach and general manager (or "G.M."), although some coaches still insist on being allowed to fill both positions as a condition of agreeing to employment.
General managers became more specialized as the increasing money involved in sports led most prominent players to hire agents to negotiate contracts on their behalf in exchange for commissions. In some sports leagues salary caps have been adopted to maintain a competitve balance, and in these leagues it is one of the functions of the general manager to insure that all player contracts are in accordance with these caps, as well as the desires of the ownership and its ability to pay. General managers are usually responsible for the selection of players in player drafts, and are often in constant conversation with the coaching staff and with scouts with regard to players needed or wanted. In sports with developmental or minor leagues, the general manager is usually the team executive with the overall responsibility for "sending down" and "calling up" players to and from these leagues.
Some of the most successful sports general managers have been former players and coaches, while others have been from the background of ownership and management. A close and harmonious relationship with the coaching staff is the hallmark of most successful general managers.
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