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Dalton Myers | Corporate governance and the business of sport

Published:Friday | June 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
President of the Jamaica Olympic Association Christopher Samuda (left) and second vice president Garth Gayle.

As we discuss sports in Jamaica and national governing bodies, I think it is important to also examine the importance of corporate governance and the business of sport.

The appointment of the first chief executive officer (CEO) for the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) was part of the commitment of the new board upon taking office in 2017.

That in and of itself was not the commitment, but there was talk of a complete restructuring of JOA operations. President Christopher Samuda, while campaigning and upon taking up office, pledged to create a new "corporate governance structure" as part of what he described as a "pathway to success model" for sports. While he has explained it, it was still unclear, at the time, how it would be manifested. In fact, with the exception of the Special Olympics, through its executive director and the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) with the employment of a CEO and management team, there has been harsh criticism of the governance structure of local sports, which many believe contributes to wastage and us not being able to be as productive as we can be.

In a previous column, I examined the increased funding contribution the JOA has been making to national sporting bodies; however, it is this new structure that has also been impressive, creating a business model that is attracting many sponsors and donors. So far, the CEO has been appointed to lead the restructuring exercise as well as garner funds for the development of sports. He gets his operational support from a group of professionals employed to help build the organisation - a business development manager, an information technology specialist, an office manager, communications specialist, and importantly, a member relations manager. This is very crucial. In fact, my view is that if these newly employed staff can work closely with the various stakeholders, then it augurs well for sports development in Jamaica.

The hope is that a move like this will not just help with funding, but also, assisting the governance of sports, as well as the development of athletes, coaches, and importantly, sport administrators in Jamaica. It may seem simple, but for years, we've been clamouring for a new direction, not just for JOA, but for all the national sporting organisations, in terms of corporate governance structures and the operations of all relevant bodies.

 

Important symbol

 

Samuda and his board's insistence on good corporate governance is important as it symbolises a willingness to incorporate new ideas, models, and structures to create a medium for sport development and the expansion of the reach and depth of the JOA itself. It puts the body in line with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mandate and further follows on the heels of many other National Olympic Committees globally. The announcement by the board of its sport commissions, headed by its directors, complements the work of the board itself as well as the administrative arm.

The next steps are going to be crucial. The JOA's current improvements must be maintained while some aspects of corporate governance must stand out.

These include, but are not limited to remaining accountable to its members, and incorporate them their decision-making processes as well as making them aware of decision-making processes that affect all relevant stakeholders.

Additionally, the JOA must assist member federations in developing, implementing, and maintaining strong governance structures as well as assist member federations in setting objectives and benchmarks on which to build and improve their organisations. It should also assist organisations with self-regulatory mechanisms where necessary, with the aim of improving their current structures, incorporating effective strategic plans to complement self-governance.

These can be done by encouraging more members from sport governing bodies to enroll in the IOC-accredited Basic and Advanced Level Sport Administration Courses offered by the JOA, which I think are very good educational tools.

There are exciting times ahead for the JOA and its members. I have no doubt that these initiatives will translate into better performances.

We are usually quick to offer negative criticism and highlight the flaws of our sporting organisations, so let us commend them when there are encouraging performances by administrators that are improving our sports and our national sports organisations. I hope they continue on this trajectory. Jamaica would be the better for it.

- Dalton Myers is a sports consultant and administrator. Email feedback to daltonsmyers@gmail.com