Dr. Richard P. Borkowski, IAEE's
2011 Educational Entrepreneur of the Year

Richard BorkowskiThe International Academy for Educational Entrepreneurship is proud to announce that Dr. Richard P. Borkowski of Narberth, PA has been named the 2011 Educational Entrepreneur of the Year. For the past 40 years, Dr. Borkowski has served as an author, speaker, expert witness and consultant in sport and recreation safety. His business has evaluated playground and athletic facilities in regard to safety for schools, camps, insurance companies and law firms.

Dr. Borkowski received a bachelor's degree in physical education from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and a master's degree in athletic administration and doctorate in athletic administration and supervision, and Sport History/Sociology from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. In addition he is a Certified Master Athletic Administrator and Certified Playground Safety Inspector.

Dr. Borkowski's educational background and 33 years of experience as Director of Physical Education and Athletics and coach at the prestigious Episcopal Academy, a K-12 prep school in suburban Philadelphia, PA provided a credible foundation for his private business as a sport and recreation safety consultant. His duties at Episcopal Academy included the administration of 120 interscholastic teams and clubs, coached by 110 individuals. A partial list of Dr. Borkowski's numerous awards include being named Athletic Director of the month by the National Athletic Director; Distinguished Alumni Award, Sturzebecker Hall of Fame for distinguished achievement in his chosen field, and the Football Hall of Fame at his undergraduate school, West Chester University of Pennsylvania; and named Person of the Year by the Inter-Academic League of Philadelphia. He is also in the Pennsylvania Sport Hall of Fame.

He has been a prolific writer by publishing 410 articles, 310 dealing with safety and the safety responsibilities of coaches, recreation leaders and teachers. He wrote a monthly safety column for Coaches Legal Report, the National Athletic Director and the Coach's Letter. He has written numerous books and manuals regarding sports safety including, School Sport Safety and Fitness; The School Sports Safety Handbook; and Putting Prevention Into Practice. Dr. Borkowski's newest book, The Defensive Game Plan for Safety in Sports was published by Momentum Media in December of 2011.

In order to gain a better understanding of Dr. Borkowski's business, IAEE asked him to respond to the following questions:

IAEE: Describe your current business and/or service and its history.
Dr. B.: I serve as a sport and recreation safety consultant for schools, universities, athletic organizations, insurance companies and law firms. My role is to evaluate programs, facilities and staff members from the standpoint of safety. My goal is to answer the question whether or not the reasonable standard of care has been met to lower the risk and chance of injury within the physical education, recreation and sport environment.
My interest in what is often referred to as risk management developed out of my training as a physical education teacher, coach and athletic administrator. Supervising 120 athletic teams required a strong emphasis on safety. This interest lead to writing about risk management, awareness and interest in this important area. The writing lead to giving presentations, evaluating programs and eventually being asked by law firms to analyze and offer an opinion regarding a law suit.

IAEE: What were some of the forces that encouraged you to develop and market your ideas?
Dr. B.: I was motivated by what I felt was a lack of knowledge about the ways and means of lowering the chance of injury in physical activity. I cannot, for example, recall one risk management course during my undergraduate and graduate work.
The best marketing tool for me was writing and making myself available to speak. I started doing free sport safety newsletters via emails to anyone I felt would be interested in safety. Clearly offering testimony in court opened another opportunity. I found out that law firms, similar to other businesses, network with other law firms.
Interestingly, I have never advertised or paid to join various expert witness organizations. Doing a professional job and word of mouth, remain the key to entrepreneurship.

IAEE: What/Who do you recognize as encouraging you to pursue your ideas?
Dr. B.: I would say the field I love so much and the children I taught and coached. I felt there was a need to address and stimulate people about safety in our field. Playing sports did not automatically mean you will get injured. Clearly the proliferation of lawsuits in our country demonstrated the need to learn more and be more sensitive to safety strategies.

IAEE: What were some of the money issues you had in establishing your business and how did you resolve them?
Dr. B.: I had no money issues to establish this type of consulting work. I was immediately paid for writing, giving presentations and working for law firms. My executive office was the 4th bedroom of our house. My expenses were mailings, business cards and stationery - and ink for the printer.

IAEE: How did you advertise, market and grow your business?
Dr. B.: The business grew from one article to one book to one presentation and finally being recognized as one with the credentials to serve as an expert witness.
My first case was because the defendant, a physical education teacher, had written an article in a national journal and it was published next to one of my articles dealing with safety issues. The teacher told the law firm I seem to know something about gym game safety. The defense won, the judge wrote that the case was won because of the testimony of the highly qualified, nationally know expert witness... That was my first case and the start of the snowball. You have to have a little luck.

IAEE: How did your experience and preparation as an educator assist you in your entrepreneurial efforts?
Dr. B.: A lifelong interest in sports directed me to seek degrees in Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Safety was a daily part of my teaching and coaching career. I was training for my business since 1955. I think I was just ahead of the curve when I came to having an interest and studying about risk management.
I also feel that my profession, while consisting of great people, are generally not motivated to writing, giving presentations and interest in taking the witness stand. This, I believe offered me a comparatively open field in sport risk management.

IAEE: What problems, challenges and rewards have you experienced from your business?
Dr. B.: A lack of professionalism on the part of some lawyers in regard to following the agreed upon written agreement. This includes payment on a timely basis. The most rewarding aspect is seeing positive safety-related changes in programs based on my recommendations.

IAEE: What personal rewards received as an educator did you forfeit when you became an educational entrepreneur?
Dr. B.: I was fortunate to work at a school that permitted me to take time off to visit schools, consult and travel - as long as the athletic department did not miss a beat. I was able to coach, teach, direct and consult form 1968 until I retired in 1993.
What I did forfeit was 7 more years of teaching by retiring at 58. The consulting work got to the point that I was working almost two full time jobs. One or the other had to go. It was not an easy call for me even with the obvious difference in financial remuneration. What tipped the scale was my wife's decision to retire in 1993. I would have loved to continue for about 7 or more years.

IAEE: What new rewards and/or problems do you now have that you didn't have when you were in the schools?
Dr. B.: The biggest reward is the ability to eat regularly and select (most of the time) when you want to work or not work. Another earlier advantage was taking my wife with me to places such as Phoenix, Florida and San Diego. She is usually busy when I go to Buffalo and Scranton, PA.
The long distance traveling has become a problem. I have however, been able to say no to long distance cases. I have stopped doing presentations, playground and school inspections. My goal is to be retired by December 2012 regarding the consulting. I will continue to write, hopefully a book a year.

IAEE: How do you see your business/service as contributing to positive changes in education and society?
Dr. B.: I think, I, as well as ten or twelve others have been able to promote the place of risk management in today's sports. There are more books, college courses and coaching certification courses that include risk management. Today's sport management curriculum in schools all include the area of risk management.
My unique contribution (at least in my and maybe only my mind) is that I am the only guy who actually worked in the trenches. I coached, taught physical education, ran a program that involved kids. The other risk management people I have met, worked against and sometimes with, all have gone straight through school obtaining the doctorate degree and start teaching in college. This is a major problem for our future physical education/coaches.

IAEE: What other entrepreneurial experiences and/or activities are you or have you been engaged?
Dr. B.: Writing, presentations, non-legal related inspections are the main experiences.
Interestingly I have also branched out in the expert witness field by doing basic school supervision cases that fall outside the normal sport and gym class arena. The premise being, hey, if you can watch a gym class or 50 football players, you might know something about hall ways and classroom supervision and organization.

IAEE: How has your personal life been affected by your decision to become an educational entrepreneur?
Dr. B.: More personal freedom in regard to scheduling. School was 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. if you were lucky. Saturday and some Sundays did not include overtime pay.
We are in better financial shape. We have been able to travel far more than we ever anticipated.

IAEE: What is your business philosophy?
Dr. B.: Be a professional. Do not just act like a professional - be a professional. Do the very best you can. Like yourself because you left it all on the field. And - enjoy what you do. If you don't look forward to the next day on the job - you are in the wrong business.
The most common reason I receive from people I work for, especially lawyers from good firms, is - and I mean this - is that I always tell the truth, regardless if it helps or hurts the cause. I think this point speaks volumes about various work places in our nation.

IAEE: Why do you feel your company has been successful?
Dr. B.: Naturally I got along very well with the staff! Seriously, I think it is because I had full control, no committees and similar to any one man show - you learned to do it all. That meant a continual learning cycle to stay abreast with current trends, rules and state regulations. That kept the company from going stale.
Our litigious society found that you need not chase only ambulances; you could chase athletic buses. I found myself interested in sport risk management from a practical need at the same time our legal profession was trying to blame every fall, ankle injury and failure to get a scholarship to Notre Dame - on coaches.

IAEE: What advice do you have for educators considering becoming an educational entrepreneur?
Dr. B.: I have been asked this question many, many times. Dick, how can I become an expert witness? What courses do you take? Can I work with you?
I tell them all the same thing. You must learn your trade. Become knowledgeable. Work at what you love. When you have the experience, confidence and have demonstrated your professionalism - people will find you.
I would suggest going outside the classroom. Write an article or a newsletter, volunteer to be a conference leader, be a speaker, hit the convention trail, get on committees. Initiate a program. Get a higher degree. My field now offers certifications, with the highest being a Certified Master Athletic Administrator.
I have mentored two and soon to be three educators. Two are retired physical education teachers, one a former student, baseball coach turned scout for the Cincinnati Reds. My fourth student is a lawyer in Arizona with a great sport background. They are my replacements!