So What Do You Do?

August 27, 2014 at 10:23 am 1 comment

Maybe as a result of a recent article on this site relating to sports administration, this writer was contacted this week to complete a questionnaire on this very topic.

It was interesting as there were several areas that provoked thought. The main question appeared to be ‘what do you think the role of a sports administrator is?’ There answer options along the lines of a) increase participation numbers in their chosen sport, b) develop elite pathways to produce international athletes, c) manage and run competitions for all ages and standards to participate. There were others but you probably get the idea.

The one thing that became clear the further one went into the questionnaire is that in Australia a great deal is being lumped onto state organisations. Should they really be responsible for elite programs and is this possibly where the structure of sports administration is falling down?

Many sports overarching national body is passing down responsibility to the state federations to run elite development programs, in some cases funding is dependent on the success of those programs. Yet surely elite programs should be wholly and solely under the auspices of the national body. They should have scouts around the country sourcing talent to be a part of these programs, it should not be left to state bodies?

If this is however to be the structure whereby the National body will oversee the individual state bodies one would expect that each state body’s constitution would be identical; as then the tasks and responsibilities would be clear to all concerned. Having  looked at two sports, Hockey and Football, this is not the case. State bodies constitutions all differ, although there are obvious similarities.

Just as sporting teams need structure, so too does sporting administration. If something as simple as this cannot be uniform no wonder there is disparity around the nation as to what the key responsibilities of the state bodies are.

Common areas in all are the responsibility to “grow participation numbers” or “grow awareness of the game.” Also to “seek and obtain improved facilities” is another common thread, along with “running competitions” and “promotion of the sport” in order to grow government and general awareness.

In truth is this really the job of the state bodies? Surely the national body should be the ones implementing a strategy to increase participation numbers, backed by funding for programs associated to this along with advertising support. At the moment in most cases in many sports it is simply left to the state bodies to run and administer these programs.

The thing that became clear completing this questionnaire was that national bodies have slowly been pushing more and more responsibility onto state bodies. In many cases the state bodies and their board’s have then had to find sponsors and funding to cover the additional administrative costs associated to these extra responsibilities. Money that sponsors often believe is going directly to youth development or set areas of the game. The same has been true with government funding. Some sports used to fund the athletes directly via AIS scholarships, now these are being distributed by the various sport’s governing body, and many athletes have seen a reduction of their funding due to “administrative costs.”

There are no clear lines any more as to who is responsible for what. Apart from the National body running the national teams at various ages. If National bodies are unable to co-ordinate a standard constitution in which the responsibilities across the country are standard what chance do the State bodies have? Incredibly even the number of points in the “objects of the association” in the various sports constitutions differ around the country. 

Everyone’s expectations of their sport’s state and national governing body is going to differ. Some of that will be down to the fact that there are no clear parameters of operation. This may have worked effectively 25 years ago, but communication and technology have moved on. We are supposed to be one country, and it is vital that each sport pulls together as one. When that happens everyone, athletes, parents, coaches and fans will know exactly who is responsible for what, as well as the administrators themselves. Then and only then, can all pull in the same direction.

It would be interesting to hear from readers what they see as the key areas of responsibility are to state sports administrators. Please let us know by commenting as no doubt everyone has a different view depending on what affects them the most. 


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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. All White  |  August 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

    When it comes to football let’s be honest Football West are a disaster, but reading this maybe its not entirely their fault, although the CEO doesn’t help matters.

    In my opinion they should be responsible for running the game first and foremost. Making sure pitches are available, enough referees and linesmen to go around, and should be promoting the game as a whole. The latter they do not do at all.

    By all means run small sided games but things like the NTC should be handed back to the FFA. This is an elite program. The word elite separates it from the rest, and FW needs to look after the masses FFA the elite.

    The State League or NPL, these I believe should stand alone and manage themselves as they are a drain on the game as a whole. Maybe if the clubs actually were responsible for their own competition they may actually improve the way they operate and stop acting in their own self interest and act for the good of the game and the competition. Sure they should pay an administrative fee to FW for player registration, referees etc, but they should run the competition and promote it themselves. Just as the FFA should relinquish the A-League and it should stand alone.

    I find it incredible that two sports constitutions are not uniform. As you say in this day and age where communication is easy this should be standard.


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