The credibility of sporting organizations has come into question a lot in the last decade with the rise in scandals. This has caused, what some believe, a decrease in public’s trust and by extension the process of democracy.
In the meantime, sport continues to strengthen its role as a major influential institution and its process is also one which is used across corporate and a range of other organizations.
According to Hums and McLean, sport governance refers to the exercise of power with consideration given to influence, authority and the nature of decision making.
In the Caribbean we have heard cries for better governance, but we ask what this really means. Sport Australia summarizes its focus on governance to look at adopting a culture that focuses on accountability. In a lot of other jurisdictions, accountability and processes that are used to impact on policy form the general argument about what good governance should really be.
In the UK, a new code for sport was developed in April 2017 which sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity that is required for funding from the national lottery.
While the commercialization of sport has seen incredible growth in the last decade with increased revenues and revenue streams – one of the causes of governance failures must be the slow way, especially in this region (Caribbean) that, sport, which remains a voluntary institution, still have inadequate resources to govern the modern, commercial world of sport of today.
Those reasons may not hold much today, even with those facts as there are some sporting bodies that have governed well. There are four key areas that should be placed as priority to ensure each sporting body meets its mandate for accountability.
These key areas are:
- Checks and balances – this is a system which prevents concentration of power in any one place. The concept of separation of power looks at a system which accounts for decision making being done based on roles. This process can counter any outside influences.
- Democracy is also key – this has to do with the public good and how it stacks up against autonomy. The structure of the democratic process must reflect the accountability required. We are looking key success factors such as a legal system, compliance and even a sanctioning process. Stakeholder participation is also key to a democracy along with the way people are elected to govern
- Perception – how people feel. A sporting body must be transparent, and its communication model must show that. All factual matters of the organization must and show find its way to the public in a timely and consistent way.
- Diversity in offerings – sport must meet the need to be socially, environmentally and ethically aware and while meeting all the other needs of operations must find a way to meet these other needs. As sport continues to establish itself and make an impact on the wider society, there is need to refresh its goals and objectives for a comprehensive role while achieving financial success
Steps must and should be taken to hold sporting bodies accountable. Stakeholders should therefore be mindful of the people they elect to serve; while focusing on what the outcomes should be.
Governance is a process and while it is our sport leaders where the buck stops, the process starts with us, electing people who are capable, able and willing to lead and manage sport in a way we can all benefit on and off the field of play.
Some progressive news on governance – The IAAF will elect its first female vice-president this year as it continues its efforts to ensure that women are represented at the highest levels of the sport. As part of the widespread reforms adopted by the IAAF Congress at the end of 2016, the IAAF has added minimum gender targets into its constitution to establish parity at all levels in the sport’s governance. This is a welcome addition to the Business of Sport.