Stepping onto the field for the first time is daunting for a participant. What is the purpose? What are the rules? Who is on my team? What is my position? What is the spirit of the game? Being a director or a CEO, no matter the size or complexity of the organisation, can raise the same questions. This section provides a basic understanding of sport governance and is complemented by a glossary.
What is governance?
An internet search will bring up many definitions of governance. These definitions are often more confusing than helpful because of the amount of information and the complexity of the terminology. At its most basic, governance is the system by which organisations are directed and controlled. It is the way in which expectations are made clear and the culture of the organisation is modelled. The following lists further clarify what governance is and is not.
- The ‘brain’ – the thinking and monitoring part of an organsiation
- Leadership in terms of purpose, strategy and values
- The structures and processes for decision-making in an organisation
- Ongoing, deliberate and proactive
- A set of checks and balances for managing risks
- A method for evaluating organisational performance
- The ‘body’’—the doing and running of an organisation
- A recognition of long-term service to a sport
- An organisation’s day-to-day and week-to-week activities
- A secondary, sporadic thing to be done when time permits
- A reactive process when things go wrong
- Box-ticking to receive funding
Good governance does not guarantee success; however, poor governance almost certainly guarantees failure.
Much like a coach develops a training plan and goals for a team, governance helps set the purpose for an organisation, its vision and how it will get there. For a gameplan to be effective, it is important to know the objective, the rules, the team members, and the team’s approach. The same applies in governance.
The Governance Team
Why is sport different?
Governance is a part of every organisation. So why do we need a specific set of principles for the governance of sport? The characteristics of sport which produce a different governance environment to that of the corporate or not-for-profit sector are outlined in the following.