A Challenging Week for Sport
Posted: Sun, 27 Nov 2016 17:13 by Andy Reed
With so much good news about the performance of sport and the positive messages about the social impact of sport it is all too easy to forget the 'dark side' of the sports world. We are massive sport fans at the Sports Think Tank but we know we should never be complacent about the issues facing the sector.
This week we have been struck by a couple of stories which only highlight how far sports must go in many policy areas.
We have been working with the Charity Sporting Equals on their #SEleaderboard initiative. Sadly, research highlighted at the 3rd annual conference confirmed that little progress has been made to increase the diversity in leadership and on boards amongst the NGBs surveyed. Still less than 4% of Board members are from a BAME background and we can name all the BAME CEOs and Chairs - because there are so few. Given that other sectors have made significant progress in recent years it makes the slow progress of sport standout even more. As Chris Grant the CEO of Sported pointed out, the sector has probably had to work quite hard to keep the figures so low, considering that BAME communities are over represented in the participation figures for sport. Chris was also right to go as far as to say that we need to use the word racism again to describe what is still going on. This is why we like working with this initiative. it challenges the comfort of the sports NGBs and calls out what it will take for our leadership and Boards to start to look like the membership of our sports and the population of our communities where 13% are from the BAME community.
Thanks to the Sport England/ UK Sport Governance code the diversity of Boards will remain a 'live' issue as the code kicks in during 2017. The LeaderBoard initiative will provide all the tools that remove the excuses from NGBs and sports organisations about their lack of diversity. Given that the code makes diversity a key issue we are expecting to see great progress as funding is tied to the successful changes taking place. It is sad that it has taken this carrot and stick to get change, but we hope as more BAME enter positions of influence these measures will no longer be required. But we fear given the state of national debate post BREXIT this issue has not been 'settled' yet.
Secondly the issue of abuse in football has shocked many. But we have heard from plenty of people who have claimed this was always a ticking time bomb. The issues of abuse have allegedly been known in the specific case at Crewe, but very little was done. Overall, we would suggest that Safeguarding is taken very seriously by NGBs and sports organisations at present, but there is always more that can be done to take this issue more seriously. We will probably follow up with some work on best practise across sport for tackling the issue. However, in the meantime we praise the individuals affected for speaking out and urge