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The big shift: How can sports leaders integrate S4D in their organisations?

Copyrights: Sarah Crumbach

The big shift: How can sports leaders integrate S4D in their organisations?

During SCORE Lab’s second session, participants identified blockers and enablers of sport for development programmes.

In many sports organisations, Sport for Development (S4D) initiatives seldomly go beyond CSR and solidarity approaches. However, more strategic and innovative win-win approaches are being identified to engage stakeholders and deliver more impact through sport events and programmes.

What is SCORE Lab?

In the spirit of fostering dialogues and exploring new horizons, SCORE – a Sport Think Action Tank based in Lausanne – organises SCORE Labs, solutions-oriented meetings addressing problems and challenges faced by the sports industry, drawing on expertise from within sport and beyond.

During the first SCORE Lab, participants discussed how to leverage the prevailing event-based business model. The tenor was that organisational leadership needs to step up, overcome politically-driven agendas and lead the shift. During SCORE Lab No. 2, participants worked together to identify internal and external forces capable of influencing (and shifting) sports leadership in the Olympic movement towards S4D, as well as three big enablers

Internal and external forces

Internal forces are policies and guidelines from umbrella organisations (e.g. the International Olympic Committee, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, GAISF, FISU), governing bodies (e.g. International Federations) and governance-level bodies (e.g. Board of Administration, Executive Committee). External forces comprise of evolving culture and values of society and market segments which shape demand and consumption requirements.

Enabler 1: Review standards and requirements

Vague documents fall short of clarifying organisational purpose – reviewing such standards and requirements will help to create a new ground of understanding the role and responsibilities sport organisations have towards society. The Olympic Charter and IF statutes could be reinterpreted by stakeholders to better align organisations with societal needs. For instance, what does it mean to promote and to govern a sport? Do sports organisations’ leadership have the same understanding and perception as the general public about purpose and values? To what extent are sports organisations responsible for social development and sustainability?

On a more practical level, governing bodies and umbrella organisations can condition funding (and donations) to the achievement of a clear set of social outcomes and joint projects. Do current reporting standards do justice to the resources which are invested in S4D – i.e., what is measured and what actions are taken as a follow-up? How can operational and strategic documents such as bidding procedures influence how sports are used as a catalyst for development, since they define the event's accountability to the affected population and may build a positive alliance of stakeholders?

Enabler 2: Foster integration and partnership

Even though the Olympic movement is a network of strong stakeholders, its integration and interconnection can be improved while optimising its resources – i.e., activate partnerships to achieve goals based on a shared vision and build more integrated processes among relevant stakeholders, including planning and organisation of events and development programmes, as well as reporting systems and mechanisms. Even though many initiatives are already happening, the ecosystem still suffers from disconnection and fragmentation resulting from a narrow focus on the technical development of the sport only. Sports organisations’ leadership can benefit from opening up to other industries and sectors which are more advanced in the creation and implementation of metrics, including measuring social impacts of events.

Enabler 3: Create awareness

A positive attitude towards lifelong learning and being aware of challenges are key to shift mindsets. There is no doubt that sport leaders, like any other professionals, could benefit from tailored education, updating their skill set regularly, or from better data accumulation and management to support a ‘new paradigm’. However, even with a lack thereof, the creation of positive alliances (and narratives) can encourage more stakeholders to enhance their role as S4D agents and promote sports as a tool for social development.

Leadership from within

These three enablers represent a toolbox of resources, questions and ideas that can be used to create pathways which are unique to each context. Any organisation or individual can identify where the corresponding sport organisation leadership (or individual) lies, and which enablers are needed to build the most suitable pathway to shift (or expand) organisational priorities. It is everyone’s responsibility to take initiative and lead the process of embedding S4D in the DNA of the Olympic movement. Only then can sport can deliver more impact to the society at large.

While there is no ‘sole leader’ responsible to kick-start the shift, it is clear that certain stakeholders exert more influence than others and could determine conditions for funding and support, and thus encourage the further integration of S4D. Regardless of where you stand as an organisation or individual in the sports sector, unique pathways can be created by combining and activating enablers grouped in the three interconnected areas: standards and requirements, awareness, and integration.

SCORE - Sport Think Action Tank: Independent sport thinkers who aim to support and cooperate with the sports community to SCORE impactful and relevant solutions


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Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 08:57

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