Implementing sports governance and fostering social development
The world participates in sports governance through the various economic, political, cultural and social conditions that prevail in each period. With the passage of time, social goals start to expand, including education, child and youth development, social inclusion, gender equity, crime prevention, economic development and environmental sustainability; all of these come under the umbrella of development. Sport provides a substantial number of benefits within societal goals. It possesses the qualities necessary for individuals to increase their feeling of unity and inclusion within a community and is unquestionably a key aspect in development.
As the demand of sport increases, so does its management needs, which is then followed by the need for innovative ideas. Governance can ensure that collective decision-making principles, procedures, and activities are consistent. The term ‘governance’ has been bandied around in international sports circles since the turn of the 20th century. Radical changes in governance occur over time. Some changes concerned economic, technological, political and cultural factors as well as changes in decision-making that were deemed imperative.
The requirement for any kind of sport organisation to create significant roles, ideals, and obligations, as well as an enforceable code of ethic that is always transparent, is therefore acknowledged as ‘good’ governance. According to the fundamental principles of Olympism, as recorded in the Olympic Charter of the International Olympic Committee, sport must be politically neutral and operate under a regime of sporting autonomy, establishing its own rules and defining the structure and governance of its organs, without any external influence, and committed to applying the principles of good governance. Clearly, the sport sector confronts challenges in terms of good governance, particularly when the appropriate policies are not undertaken from the start, as to the vague definition of roles, the refusal to change in order to evolve, the non-risk management, the lack of awareness and the generic shortage of key elements.
Adequate governance in sports is unlikely without government involvement in the sport world, due to the increasing need for transparency and accountability towards a wide range of stakeholders. Under the spectrum of good governance is accountability, which plays a critical role in establishing good governance. In particular, it refers to organisations’ commitment to protect and attempt to avoid acts or behaviours that may affect the stability of a society. It should aim to eliminate social phenomena that keep individuals on the margins and promote transparency through their proper operation and strategy. Hence, greater accountability is demanded in the realm of sport in order to uncover inventive approaches to improve and complete projects that are intended to deliver toward a continuously developing society.
In this direction, some ways in which sport can improve ‘good’ governance in a national and international developmental level include:
- Creation of programs responsible for the observation of the governing bodies of sports but also other involved bodies, in order to measure, discuss and improve the good governance in the national sports federations
- Creating networks between academics, sports, and other stakeholders.
- Providing government officials with knowledge and tools for dialogue within the sports movement
- Promoting the public debate on governance in sport in order to raise awareness of the challenges on good governance matters in this field
In light of recent developments in this field, sports must be considered as ‘clean’ in order to be able to pass on its principles, virtues, and values to future generations. Sports governance is often met with both challenges and deficiencies. There are many cases where issues are identified that concern and substantially affect the integrity of an organisation and therefore the entire institution of sport. The necessity for good governance to triumph is critical, and everyone engaged must work together to improve the efficiency of sporting events organised in accordance with sports ideals.
Argyropoulou Polyxeni holds a Master’s degree in Olympic Studies, Olympic Education, Organization and Management of Olympic Events from International Olympic Academy (IOA) and a Bachelor’s degree in Sport Management from University of Peloponnese, Greece. Experienced volunteer in many national and international major events and working in the field of sport.