Australia has long over-achieved and out-performed our competitors on the sporting stage but that stage is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive. Whilst new competitors are emerging and old foes are growing stronger, Australia must adapt to these changing circumstances and embrace change. No longer can it simply be business as usual. Reform of the Australian sports system – both at elite and community level – can be put off no longer. Over the past decade there have been many reports into sport – the Oakley report, the Senate’s inquiry into women in sport, a review of the ASC act, an unreleased plan for disabled sport – and yet very few of the recommendations have been acted upon. It is clear that we need new directions in sport to meet the emerging challenges and to maintain our status as one of the world’s greatest sporting nations. If we are to act responsibly and safeguard the future of Australian sport, we must now embrace reform. And it must range from the very highest levels of elite sport, right down to the grassroots (Australian Commonwealth 2007). Sport as an industry has developed and changed the way it operates, delivers, interacts over the last thirty five years and in conjunction with this Australian politics has developed the way in which it deals with what is a now a considerable industry. As demonstrated in the above passage, which is an extract from a recent report released by the recently elected Labor Government, sport and recreation is about to face further changes forced upon it by both policy and the economic environment. This paper, while discussing the ‘Future of Sport’, will look at the influences by government and the resulting policies as well as discussing some of the strategies and influences within the sport and recreation industry. Sport as an Industry
From the early 19th century Australian sport was generally created from the grass roots through community based club structures. This allowed anyone interested in a sport to compete at their level with their local club. However, the disadvantage of this system was that the elite athlete was required to work their way to the top through the various levels of the sport, and then was expected to perform at national and international level. This system, which had been adopted in Australia from around the 1820's until the 1970's, displays the hierarchal or delegate structure approach to governance. Management of this structure meant that clubs and associations were represented in the decision-making process at the next level up. Stewart-Weeks noted that the power relationship inherent in this system was inverted. That is, the national body was given the formal power to 'promote, control, foster and govern'(Shilbury, Dean and Kellett, 2006), this created a system controlled by the grass roots with local interests, rather than a global strategic mindset to the management and development of sport. This system also relied on input from volunteers with business experience committed to their particular sport contributing in an ad hoc manner during an era of 'kitchen table' management (Auld, 1997; Shilbury, Dean and Kellett, 2006). Towards the end of the 1960's this system began to be questioned as less champions were being produced and there was an expansion of talent identification, sport science and sophisticated training methods being produced in other countries. With a growing input from government, sport saw a change in focus from voluntary administrators at all levels and an introduction of professional administrators at the state and national levels, these positions were initially created through government funding and eventually saw the demise of the 'delegate system'. During the seventies, the hierarchal system was debated and with the first government involvement in sport, and its influence in funding, policy development and programming the contemporary management structure of sport was established. The initial...
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