Sporting governance and integrity in practice

Sporting governance and integrity in practice

  • Verity Postlethwaite
  • 28 June 2017
  • Posted in: Healthcare, Education

The Standards in Sport: Ethics, Integrity and Governance event was packed full of a variety of expertise, as 13 speakers gave in depth presentations and case studies about contemporary and historical issues in the sport sector. The entire day was facilitated by the Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO Emma Boggis, who showcased the Principles of Good Governance, a set of tools that offer practical guidance on the highest standards of governance and organisational performance. The relevance of this tool was framed by Louise Thompson and Craig Beeston from The Governance Institute. In their respective overviews they articulated - how to introduce and engage conversation about governance and how to go beyond legislation and work towards creating a culture around ethics and integrity. Case studies from: the University of Salford’s Jameel Hadi, Kids Run Free, Sporting Equals and the FA Core, enriched the conversations as they gave individual examples and illustrations of governance and integrity in practice.

The two prominent conversations of the day were around the intersections of diversity and respect. Prof. Laura McAllister showed the changes to diversity of the Sport Wales Board – where in 2011 there was 15% female and by 2015 there were 58% female and 16% BME. Commenting further Prof. McAllister noted that beyond numbers, there is significant hard work and difficult transitions to instil a culture and acceptance that ‘diversity matters.’ As many speakers voiced throughout the day, a more diverse board offers: better decisions, challenge perceptions, broad life experience, etc. As both Philippa Foster Back CBE and Asantewaa Brenya described, this now explicitly links to the UK Sport and Sport England ‘A Code for Sports Governance.’ A document that formally connects governance to the public funding bodies of England, with similar requirements in the other countries in the UK.

The second prominent theme of respect was illustrated by Andy Himmsworth, who showed the FA Respect campaign video ‘Elders & Betters’ from 2009. Although sport, society and organisations are implementing more ethical and respect based cultures, the video showed (even 8 years on), that there is still room to progress and reduce disrespectful behaviours. Furthermore, this reaches across the varying stakeholders connected to the sports sector: the board, spectators, participants, coaches, agents, sponsors, etc. Elite and community participation were used as examples throughout the day, for example, at the elite level presentations from Sporting Integrity and SIGA highlighted the challenges at a global level; whereas, at the community level Arun Kang offered advice and experience around using a faith based model to engage inactive communities.

Other products were showcased, in particular around technology, Upshot and Infonetica provided some valuable insight into what software is available to help manage data within your organisation. In summarising the day Emma Boggis provided a succinct final thought, that although monitoring, legislation and standards are improving and becoming more consistent; in the long term it will be about what happens when no one is watching. Without an embedded culture of integrity organisations will struggle to credibly and consistently demonstrate good governance.

Article by Verity Postlethwaite, PhD Candidate at the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester


  • sport
  • sport governance
  • Sport-Ethics
  • sporting activities
  • sport participation
  • ethical principles
  • governance
  • governance practises
  • Article Author

About Verity Postlethwaite

Verity Postlethwaite is PhD Candidate at the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester