Friday 26 May 2017

Why do sports need governing bodies?

Maryke 'Ykie' Kennard takinng the Athletes' Oath at
IeSF's 2015 World Championships - Seoul.
Often outsiders question the roles and overall purposes of why sports need governing bodies. To the competitive athlete, the answer is clear, but to those who have not been directly involved in sport, the answer may be unclear.

The reasons why the answers may be unclear is that the roles and responsibilities of national and international federations are complex. Both national and international federations, at times, may face conflicting interests which must be handled within a democratic system unlike the more autocratic system employed by private (and public) companies.

It is through the democratic system that allows any registered athlete to assume positions on the various committees. Officers are not hand-picked, but instead rely on the support from the voting members to attain office.

As such, all national and international federations have a constitutional base which is policed by its own membership.

The national and international federations of sport also create the interest, development, and expansion of sport on a grassroots level. It is through the national and international federations efforts that the recognition of sport is promoted.

Without Mind Sports South Africa (MSSA) having been accredited in 1991, it is doubtful that boardgaming, esports, and wargames would have the accreditation that it now enjoys. In fact perhaps every private competition in South Africa would also not exist. TELKOM emulated MSSA’s league which ran from 2005 to 2008 when they started their own league in 2008. Players like Barry ‘Anthrax’ Louzada represented South Africa in MSSA National teams in both 2007 and 2013 before starting his own privately owned event.

In short, only national and international federations would take on the responsibilities of development, creating interest, and promotion of the sport without the prospect of immediate financial gain.

The national and international federations also balance the interests of those that want to gain from the commercial interests of sport as such national and international federations safeguard the sport from outside interests, whether such interests are political or commercial. It is only national and international federations that truly look after the interests of the athlete, as without having a driving commercial interest in the sport, such federations are more centred on the promotion ad well-being of the athlete as opposed to crass financial gain. Thus often the national and international federations have to take very tough decisions and walk-away from what, at first, may appear to be lucrative deals.

Thus, only the national and international federations are playing the long-game and take the long-term view in the promotion of sport.

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