Risk Registry

The Canadian Sport Risk Registry contains a number of common risks and is updated following each Risk Management Workshop. The risks and solutions are presented generically and anonymously, to provide insight for sport leaders to think differently about the risks that are ‘keeping them up at night’.

Alignment and compliance with federal goals and programs (SFAF, OTP, COC/CPC, LTD)

The Risk and its Impacts:

Failure or inability to align or comply with federal goals and programs, leading to reduced funding, reputational damage, and inconsistent athlete development.

  • Create a committee to identify opportunities.
  • Identify gaps by capturing what is currently being done through a sport for development lens.
  • Participate in Imagine Canada’s accountability standards program.
  • Conduct a third-party assessment of organizational alignment to identify gaps and weaknesses.
  • Clearly identify Report Card deficiencies and assign and operationalize actions to mitigate them.

Conflict and dispute resolution management

The Risk and its Impacts:

A complaint, scandal, dispute, controversy, or other incident between or among members is not effectively handled and will escalate into a crisis, stakeholders are unnecessarily harmed, and the organization suffers fiscal, legal and/or reputational damage.

  • Establish a sound policy framework to deal with dispute resolution (code of conduct, discipline policy, appeals policy, independent and professional dispute management).
  • Have a crisis communication plan.
  • Have ready access to external advisors (legal, harassment, risk management, governance).
  • Clarify jurisdictional issues (national, provincial/territorial, club, event) to ensure there is clarity around jurisdiction and authority.
  • Establish good media relations in both official languages. Have a strategy in place to deal with issues and assign a trained spokesperson.
  • Provide coaches and other key personnel with conflict resolution training and media training.
  • Make it mandatory that national and provincial/territorial coaches are members of Coaches of Canada (thus binding them to a national code of ethics and disciplinary mechanism).
  • Publish a comprehensive team manual containing all relevant policies and information for athletes and coaches.
  • Prepare a briefing book for each major event and major team.
  • Establish clear terms of reference and job descriptions for team leaders.
  • Ensure proper internal communications with athletes.
  • Establish and clarify the role of team captain (athlete) and provide greater education and training for this role.
  • Offer media training to athletes, coaches, administrators, team personnel.
  • Communicate with insurance provider to ensure appropriate coverage exists for this type of risk.
  • Declare as a True Sport organization to promote a positive image.
  • Conduct a debriefing with executive team or senior management following any incident and document learnings, and adjust policies as needed.
  • Develop and communicate clear team selection and appeal processes.

Lack of capacity - qualified staff and program leaders

The Risk and its Impacts:

Not having sufficient and qualified professional staff (e.g., coaches, medical staff, meet directors, classifiers, event managers, committee leaders, administrators) to sustain performance excellence of athletes/teams, and to fulfill strategic goals and objectives.

  • Encourage and share best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of programs, events, and coaching.
  • Pay all team staff a reasonable wage/honorarium in recognition of their contribution and to retain and attract qualified individuals.
  • Organize an annual congress that offers professional development opportunities for coaches, medical staff, classifiers, event managers, administrators and other technical leaders.
  • Prepare detailed job descriptions for all staff and program leaders.
  • Require all coaches with national and provincial/territorial teams to be members of Coaches of Canada.
  • Develop and maintain a succession plan for all staff roles and volunteers in other key roles. See the risk “Staff Turnover and Lack of Succession Planning.”
  • Provide matching grants to clubs to support talent development (administrative, coaching).
  • Develop a professional coaching career path.
  • Target financial support to specified individuals in specialized roles (talent ID and nurturing).
  • Create a formalized alumni program.
  • Establish performance objectives and complete performance reviews.
  • Use part-time staff, temporary staff, or contractors when appropriate.
  • Identify what motivates staff and key volunteers (i.e., money, benefits, professional development, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Identify and groom key leaders and athletes for future employment opportunities (talent ID and development).
  • Planned/scheduled recognition of staff and key volunteer leaders.
  • Use professional groups to assist with talent recruitment and hiring.
  • Cap the number of terms a Board of Directors’ member may serve to ensure fresh perspectives.
  • Implement strategies to avoid staff burnout (i.e., allow 5% of work time to be non-allocated, flexible work environment, work-from-home days).
  • Adjust deliverables (scope, timeline) to better reflect staff capacity.
  • Develop a process of reviewing and streamlining projects, programs, policies, etc., with the goal of ensuring the organization is meeting minimum requirements and remains compliant where required.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategies to promote and showcase talent.
  • Communications to encourage sharing of best practices between and among professional staff.
  • Communicate possible employment options to high-performance athletes for their consideration following their retirement.

Lack of capacity to effectively implement LTD

The Risk and its Impacts:

Inability of branches and clubs to successfully implement LTD resulting in ineffective NSO input and engagement, misalignment in the sport system, and poor athlete development.

  • Create LTD working group (representative of the branches) and assign adequate resources to support its work.
  • Undertake cross-country “road show” and use virtual tools to showcase LTD.
  • Prepare and effectively distribute LTD educational materials for athletes, coaches, and parents.
  • Undertake a review of competition structure using NSO values and PTSO/club input to improve alignment with LTD principles.
  • Use NSO website, social media, and other virtual tools to better assist branches/clubs with LTD information.
  • Assign NSO staff to work with branches/clubs on LTD implementation (dedicated as a staff role).
  • Use AGMs/congress and other forums to allow branches to share best practices on LTD development.
  • Leverage organizational values to improve uptake and commitment on LTD implementation.
  • Consider revising organizational structure to align with LTD (e.g., assign staff resources to various stages, align Board portfolios).
  • Review the True Sport Long-Term Development (LTD) Framework to implement age- and stage-appropriate suggestions to help activate the seven True Sport Principles.
  • Ensure a program is in place to transition athletes from Train to Compete and Train to Win (Stages 5 and 6) to Active for Life (Stage 7), including health, career, and lifestyle transition planning.
  • Develop talent transfer agreements between Paralympic sports and Olympic counterparts.
  • Institute a procedure to follow up on talent identification leads.
  • Intentional consideration of LTD in annual budget development.
Communication Strategies:
  • Develop key messaging to support LTD implementation that is reflective of the organization’s values.
  • Communications materials should reflect NSO’s values.

Lack of collaboration and partnerships to enhance sport delivery system

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of not pursuing collaboration and partnership with educational institutions and other external groups to better enhance the sport delivery system.

  • Work closely and supportively with the country’s top four or five post-secondary programs and identify the second tier of programs for mentorship.
  • Provide grants or other financial support to athletes who choose to remain in Canada.
  • Develop a formal strategy to better align with universities (there are more than 50) and community colleges (there are more than 120).
  • Provide educational materials and resources to athletes so they are fully informed on their educational choices.
  • Have a strategy to support university-based research and excellence programs, such as academic centres of excellence aligned with high-performance centres.
  • Liaise with schools in the U.S. that draw top Canadian athletes.
  • Get provincial and territorial CEOs/EDs and Board of Directors’ Presidents to improve relationships with Canadian educational institutions.
  • Ensure an appropriate collaborative relationship with U SPORTS and CCAA.
  • Communicate the importance of a PTSO’s role in the success of implementing a NSO strategic plan, and encourage PTSOs to include activities that support the NSO in their own plans.
  • Explore partnership opportunities with PTSOs to complete or co-manage projects.

Lack of depth and balance of sport performance across the country

The Risk and its Impacts:

The sport lacks balance or depth of athletes/teams across the country. A small number of branches/clubs dominate in terms of performance, and PTSOs are highly variable in terms of capacity to develop the sport.

  • Enter into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with PTSOs to identify specific roles and responsibilities in sport development. These can be customized based on capacity of the PTSO.
  • Offer club rewards such as seed money, development grants, matching grants, awards, and recognition.
  • Target specific clubs for enhanced support (financial, administrative, leadership).
  • Consider organizing NSO services and staffing by region to maximize leadership, capacity, and support for PTSOs and clubs (this may be especially beneficial in Atlantic Canada).
  • Have strong technical leadership at national office and commit to sharing information and supporting PTSO efforts in the technical area.
  • Develop a certification type program for club managers to enhance club capacity.
  • Include a club management module in NCCP curriculum.
  • Align championship events with LTD principals.
  • Rotate location of major championships to improve on accessibility and to increase visibility.
  • Use social media to create excitement around the sport or event.
  • Re-organize PTSOs into regional associations to pool resources and deliver better training to all athletes across the country.
  • Have regular scheduled meetings with PTSO Executive Directors.
  • Consider simplifying LTD with a focus on the end user.
  • Strike committees to plan and evaluate the high-performance path, drawing on previous experience.
  • Explore avenues to develop high-performance talent outside of traditional talent streams.
  • Provide coach development and mentoring opportunities.
Communication Strategies:
  • Create a communications strategy that increases awareness and enhances visibility.

Lack of diversity, equity and inclusion

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk that all who want to participate in a sport activity do not feel safe or welcome.

  • Develop and implement policies for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), gender (e.g., girls on boys’ teams), transgender, and 2SLGBTQI+ inclusion, and inclusion of minority groups.
  • Connect with Canadian Women & Sport to see what resources could be used to educate coaches and athletes on this issue.
  • Explore a campaign to sensitize coaches about the power of language and acceptable conduct.
  • Have an effective code of conduct in place, and ability to implement disciplinary measures in a professional manner.
  • Develop and distribute clear communications stating that the organization does not discriminate and welcomes diversity.
  • Explore funding opportunities for athletes with financial challenges.
  • Establish a DEI Committee to lead inclusion initiatives and build an organizational culture of inclusiveness.
  • Survey stakeholders and acquire data on DEI-related perceptions and processes to determine how the NSO can be more inclusive.
  • Develop initiatives to recognize and welcome Indigenous people in Canada.
  • Improve bilingual services and capacity.
  • Enhance levels of accessibility in the sport to welcome athletes with disabilities through funding, programming, and communications.
  • Encourage or mandate gender equity in leadership positions in the NSO (staff, board).
  • Staff/board training in gender inclusion.
  • Review and improve hiring practices with a focus on inclusion.
Communication Strategies:
  • Ensure all policies are available to membership and potential members.
  • Communicate with membership regarding available resources.
  • Use all communication channels to share important information.
  • Ensure codes of conducts are public and available to membership.
  • Use all channels of communication to present the organization as welcoming and inclusive.

Lack of financial stability

The Risk and its Impacts:

Cash flow difficulties and inadequate resources result in operational instability as well as board and staff time inefficiencies (managing short-term financial problems), versus working towards long-term objectives and effective program delivery.

  • Establish a credit line to bridge short-term financial needs.
  • Establish an appropriate surplus and reserve fund to address larger-scale financial emergencies, projects, and/or challenging times.
  • Budget conservatively and include budget contingencies.
  • Establish strong internal financial controls.
  • Institute an audit committee and give it the expertise and authority it requires to oversee finances effectively.
  • Develop an investment strategy to ensure maximum leveraging of existing assets.
  • Review staffing structures to ensure optimal use of human resources.
  • Recruit board members with financial experience.
  • Pursue alternative funding sources through fundraising, merchandising, marketing, corporate sponsorship, alumni giving, crowdsourcing or IP leveraging.
  • Look for financial savings through collaborative or cost-shared programs such as insurance or registration systems.
  • Explore staff secondment opportunities through corporate partners.
  • Clearly articulate and communicate member benefits to boost membership.
  • Look at potential membership areas currently not tapped, and alternative partners (industry, municipalities, schools).
  • Review strategic plan to determine if it is aligned with current reality – may need to change expectations and performance objectives.
  • Undergo a brand strategy development process to better align with potential partners/funders.
  • Apply an ethical code of standards to accounting and fundraising practices.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications to committees and staff responsible for budgets indicating necessity to adhere to budget.
  • Encourage ways to be more effective and efficient with budgets.
  • Promote ways to enhance economies of scale.
  • Ensure that communications for programs and services offered are customized for each target to maximize impact.
  • Communicate what sets you apart from other organizations.

Lack of internal processes

The Risk and its Impacts:

Operational procedures are not fully developed, consistent, or do not meet minimum legal requirements.

  • Schedule a regular review of all internal processes.
  • Create a task force with assistance from an external consultant.
  • Create a staff Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) manual.
  • Develop a protocol and policy to manage intellectual property.
  • Integrate Imagine Canada standards.
  • Conduct risk assessment when stepping outside standard operations or procedures.
  • Use organizational values when making decisions.
  • Create clear job descriptions and organizational chart to ensure confidence.
  • Perform cost benefit analysis between hiring and re-organizing.
  • Ensure all organizational information is secure and is regularly backed up.
  • Host regular all-staff meetings to share updates and answer questions.
  • Have access to passwords in case of emergency.
  • Have an elected staff member as a representative for compliance regulations.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategy should be focused on how to manage expectations.

Lack of qualified board directors or conflicted board of directors

The Risk and its Impacts:

Insufficient organizational leadership, poor governance, membership dissatisfaction, and failure to deliver quality programming to members.

  • Develop a formal Board of Directors recruitment and application process that is led by a Governance or Nomination Committee.
  • Prepare detailed job/role descriptions for all Directors and Officers.
  • Create and maintain a board Manual that includes duties, responsibilities, board schedules, document access, strategic direction, governing documents and rules, conduct guidelines, insurance, etc.
  • Develop Board Member Agreements/Contracts that address Board conduct, conflict of interest, intellectual property and confidentiality.
  • Develop a standardized new Board Member orientation process.
  • All Board of Directors’ members must complete the Governance Essentials E-Learning Course as part of their onboarding.
  • Use professional groups to assist with board talent recruitment.
  • Establish board performance objectives and complete performance reviews.
  • Identify what motivates board members (i.e., professional development, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Identify and groom key leaders (i.e., through committee work) for future Board opportunities (talent ID and development).
  • Plan and schedule recognition of board leaders.
  • Develop and maintain a succession plan for all Board of Directors’ members.

Lack of safety procedures and standards

The Risk and its Impacts:

The NSO lacks appropriate policies and enforcement mechanisms to promote a safe environment for all participants. Organizational culture works against a safe and secure environment.

  • Develop and review a sport-specific Code of Safety on a regular basis and update as required.
  • Establish a national sanctioning system to ensure minimum safety standards are identified, implemented, and maintained across the nation.
  • Assign a NSO liaison to all sanctioned/hosted events to oversee implementation of standards.
  • Use insurance levers to promote compliance with national standards (e.g., if standards are not met, insurance coverage does not apply to the event).
  • Emphasize safety issues and standards in all coach educational materials.
  • Use national team athlete profiles to promote safety messages.
  • Ensure national coaches employment contracts include language pertaining to compliance with Code of Safety.
  • Have effective Code of Conduct in place, and ability to implement disciplinary mechanisms in a professional manner.
  • Focus on key messages and consequences, i.e., risks of underage drinking. Link this to messages around sport excellence and professionalization of coaching.
  • Bring NSO leaders together for a facilitated retreat to discuss risks and to refine strategies to change the culture within the sport.
  • Recognize that organizational culture does not change overnight – it might take until the next generation of athletes to see desired changes.
  • Ensure thorough compliance with applicable Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations.
  • Refer to “Conflict resolution management” section regarding crisis management planning and apply it to safety scenarios as appropriate.
  • Develop a Travel Risk Policy Suite to identify safety procedures and standards for team travel.
  • Conduct an events risk management audit to improve existing standards and identify new standards for in-house events and sanctioned events.
Communication Strategies:
  • Communicate your sport’s commitment to providing a safe and welcoming environment. Ensure it’s linked with tools and practices along with expected guidelines.

Lack of sound hiring and recruitment practices for national team personnel

The Risk and its Impacts:

Lack of formal procedures for selecting coaches and other team personnel, lack of clarity around screening volunteers and staff lead to unsafe environments for national team activities.

  • NSO has both formal and informal procedures for screening coaches and other personnel.
  • Develop a Travel Risk Policy Suite to identify safety procedures and standards for travel, accommodation, and supervision for teams.
  • Personal coaches are restricted to very narrow responsibilities, which are clearly outlined.
  • Institute more formal selection procedures to select coaches for teams, involving application, portfolio, and interview components.
  • Implement ten safe steps of screening with all national teams, including police checks, using a phased approach. See Volunteer Canada: www.volunteer.ca.
  • Create and adhere to formal volunteer selection criteria. Provide volunteer job descriptions and expectations.
  • Conduct team personnel evaluations annually and at the conclusion of major trips.
  • Interview team athletes to identify their satisfaction with team personnel and any issues.
  • Conduct an environmental scan of branches, clubs, or other sports to ensure any potential personnel are not red flagged in other areas.

Lack of sport participation

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of sport not being included in major games due to lack of influence/knowledge on selection criteria, capacity to develop the sport and increase participation.

  • Educate membership on selection criteria for major games.
  • Make changes to strategic plans which align with provincial selection criteria.
  • Look for diversified funding and partnership or collaborative opportunities.
  • Work collaboratively with membership to build tools and activities for development.
  • Strike committees to plan and evaluate high-performance path, drawing on previous experience.
  • Aim to develop high-performance talent outside of traditional talent pool areas.
  • Provide coach development and mentoring opportunities.
Communication Strategies
  • Leverage as a sport that can meet sport for development objectives within the Canadian Sport Policy.

Lack of strategic planning

The Risk and its Impacts:

Failure to adopt or use a relevant strategic plan to its full advantage, leading to misuse of resources, lack of direction, and lack of corporate accountability.

  • Develop a communications plan for Board of Directors and general membership that clearly identifies strategic goals and objectives and highlights mission, vision, and values.
  • Integrate priority strategic items into operations plan.
  • Use strategic plan as a guide when assessing the feasibility of new projects.
  • Undertake a regular environmental scan to monitor and plan for risk.
  • Adopt a Management by Values approach to daily operations. Reference values in decision-making and team discussions.
  • Conduct an annual evaluation to assess the use of the strategic plan and the achievement of strategic objectives.

Lack of volunteers

The Risk and its Impacts:

Declining quality and quantity of volunteers due to changing environmental factors (i.e., demographic, social, economic, workplace stress). As a result, organizational leadership, program delivery, and the athlete experience suffers.

  • See the risk “Shortage of Qualified Coaches and Officials” and the related risk solutions to increase volunteerism.
  • Enhance opportunities for high-profile international appointments (to attract highly qualified volunteers).
  • Enhance quality of professional development opportunities for volunteers.
  • Establish a more formal nomination process to solicit committee and board members. See also the risk “Lack of Qualified Board Directors.”
  • Develop strategy to retain alumni by offering a menu of options to continue their involvement in the sport.
  • Develop a mentoring program to match people with experience and knowledge with newcomers to the organization.
  • Utilize the True Sport #NoRefNoGame campaign to profile the importance of officials.
  • Undertake research into volunteerism trends and their impact on sport.
  • Undertake youth leadership outreach. Target and identify youth to participate annually to groom future leaders for the sport.
  • Target recruitment of qualified women and equity deserving groups.
  • Determine how to make use of increasing number of youth volunteers, such as those who need volunteer hours for school.
  • Create a plan for keeping volunteers beyond the youth stage.
  • Establish a national volunteer database in collaboration with PTSOs and branches/clubs.
  • Identify and develop incentives that attract young, qualified volunteers.
  • Engage with volunteer agencies (i.e., Volunteer Canada) to promote and attract new volunteers.

Large-scale incident or force majeure occurs that destabilizes sport activities and participation

The Risk and its Impacts:

An event such as a pandemic, war, natural disaster, terrorist attack, economic depression, or other unforeseeable crisis causes the sport system to collapse or pause, which significantly impacts participation, athlete development, revenue, programming, staffing and organizational operations, and achievement of strategic goals and objectives.

  • Develop a Crisis Management Plan that is aligned with other plans and policies.
  • Acquire a list of trusted external advisors who can support the organization through a crisis (legal, trauma, risk management, communications, etc.).
  • Manage crisis or incident via a Management by Values approach.
  • Identify key spokesperson(s) and define key messaging in consultation with executive leadership.
  • Expand online engagement opportunities to keep members engaged and staying relevant.
  • Develop financial contingency and reserve funds to buffer potential losses of revenue.
  • Develop new policies, procedures, and forms that address the incident (i.e., return to play, facility protocols, screening forms, travel consent).
  • Access government funds to diversify programming and sustain operations.

Liability issues with hosted events

The Risk and its Impacts:

The NSO is considered liable for damages associated with hosted events, resulting in financial and reputational loss.

  • Develop, maintain, and supply a standardized written guide for organizers containing standards to be met.
  • Establish a national sanctioning/hosting system to ensure guidelines and standards are identified, implemented, and maintained across the nation.
  • Use signed hosting contract (NSO-PTSO-host committee) setting out contractual commitments and expectations.
  • Have risk management and insurance committee driven by staff.
  • Consider declaring your event a True Sport event to showcase commitment to values-based sport.
  • Standardize use of waiver forms and assumption of risk forms.
  • Build proactive and collaborative relationship with insurer.
  • Enhance role clarity for event organizers – establish who has jurisdiction for what aspects of the event.
  • Offer training to PTSO technical staff to help them deliver well-organized, safe events.
  • Clearly identify financial signing authority for both host and NSO/MSO.
  • Explore national insurance program (to cover all members and partners of hosted events).
  • Develop financial management policy, budget, and reporting templates for use by host. Make the use of these templates a condition of hosting the event.
  • Negotiate performance audits in critical areas to maintain hosting standards.
  • Work with PTSOs to create a hosting agreement and realistic financial model.
  • Create a standardized emergency preparedness plan.
  • To optimize attendance at the event, communicate and promote past successes.
  • Establish what the key legacy pieces are for your event.
  • Develop a communications plan clarifying how, who with, when, and what information is shared.
  • If few organizations have the capacity to host a national event, develop a business plan to address growth.
  • Conduct an events risk management audit to improve existing standards and identify new standards for sanctioned/hosted events.

Loss of corporate data and/or IP due to cyber attack or improper storage

The Risk and its Impacts:

Corporate data is leaked, hacked, lost, or held ransom resulting in loss of business continuity, financial damage, reputational damage, and potential litigation.

  • Develop a Crisis Management Plan to address a cyber attack or ransomware scenario.
  • Conduct annual review of data storage and office storage processes (third-party management of website and registration system, firewalls, server usage, locks and safes, password protections, etc.).
  • Review contracts with third party vendors and intentionally discuss any issues experienced and their response to those issues.
  • Reach out to cyber security experts and conduct a cyber security audit or all organizational data.
  • Review insurance policy(s) and ensure coverage for IP loss and data protection, and cyber security coverage.
  • Connect with other NSOs/PTSOs/MSOs to learn about their best practices and experiences.
  • Centralize IP storage (with proper security) to mitigate the loss of IP that is stored on various cloud platforms.

Managing competing priorities

The Risk and its Impacts:

Not being able to determine or decide which projects or programs to prioritize, and which to decline or discontinue.

  • Use part-time staff, temporary staff, or contractors when appropriate.
  • Explore partnership opportunities with PTSOs to complete projects.
  • Invest only in programs that further the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Review strategic plan to reconcile which current priorities are relevant to the plan.

Managing stakeholder demands and expectations

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk that services and membership benefits delivered to stakeholders will not be up to an expected standard and therefore lead to stakeholder dissatisfaction and reputational damage.

  • Adjust the size of deliverables to reflect current capacity to deliver.
  • Be sure to match the budget to the deliverables.
  • Clarify stakeholder expectations by communicating clear standards of delivery.
  • Hold a stakeholder consultation or outreach through survey or interview to build understanding and shared outcomes.
  • Clearly communicate the benefits of NSO membership, the purpose of the NSO, and its strategic goals.
  • Use more diverse communication methods (videos, social media, forums and meetings) to actively engage with stakeholders.
Communication Strategies:
  • Ensure communication is ongoing and strategically positioned based on different groups.

Participant health and safety risks (general)

The Risk and its Impacts:

The inherent nature of the sport has potential for an unsafe environment: potential long-term or catastrophic injury, age of participants, coach-athlete power dynamic, body-image issues, sport culture, parental attitudes, long training hours, strong emphasis on performance not balanced with safety measures. Any athlete, other stakeholder, or the organization itself may experience some form of mental or physical harm. See also “Safe Sport Risk” which addresses abuse, harassment and maltreatment.

  • Institute Respect in Sport program with all coaches and encourage Board of Directors and staff to take it as well.
  • Provide educational programs and resources to members on coaching ethics.
  • Include ethics module in NCCP training programs.
  • Have adequate policies to deal with ethics and discipline issues.
  • Institute minimum requirements for coach certification.
  • Provide PTSOs and clubs with risk management policies, education, and resources.
  • Develop an issues-management protocol to establish guidelines for communications and media management in the event of an incident or other crisis.
  • Provide clubs, organizers and events with appropriate medical protocols and guidelines.
  • Develop and implement a coaches’ code of conduct.
  • Develop written agreements with delivery groups in which they agree to share risks and fulfill responsibilities.
  • Explore other best practices (e.g., sport, recreation, education, health).
  • Establish a safety committee which does annual safety inspections at all training facilities.
  • Review insurance policies to ensure comprehensive coverage.
  • Ensure all facility staff have adequate medical training.
  • Have high-performance athletes undergo a yearly health screening.
  • Ensure orientation and training of staff and volunteers as required (e.g., Occupational Health and Safety (OHS), Violence in the Workplace).
  • Offer training in ethical decision making.
  • Take steps to use the True Sport brand more intentionally.
  • Review relevant documents with regularity to ensure they are up to date (e.g., discipline policy and procedures, reporting procedure, coach and athlete agreements, codes of conduct).
  • Compare safety policies and procedures with those of other NSOs.
  • Use Coaching Association of Canada resources.
  • Develop education and communication strategies to share safety information. See also the risk of “Lack of Safety Procedures and Standards.”
  • Provide athletes with useful information about lifestyle balance, nutrition, anti-doping, etc.
  • Educate athletes and coaches about preventative measures to reduce likelihood of injury.
  • Be a champion for research and safety developments for injuries that are predominant in the sport.

Poor alignment between NSO and PTSO

The Risk and its Impacts:

Poor alignment of system, ideals, and/or priorities resulting in disjointed planning, mistrust, diminished member experience, and confusion as to the roles and responsibilities of NSO versus PTSO in the sport delivery system.

  • Create customized Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with PTSOs.
  • Encourage all PTSOs to align strategic plans with national objectives and the pillars of Canadian Sport Policy.
  • Convene meetings of NSO and PTSOs to better coordinate planning efforts.
  • Ensure clear terms of reference for all committees.
  • Examine best practices of other NSOs to determine what works well to improve alignment of planning.
  • Collaborate with PTSOs on items that may or may not affect them.
  • Develop an issue-specific communications plan.
  • During times of change, set realistic benchmarks with clearly communicated timelines.
  • For larger changes that affect all members, strike small committees involving PTSOs to ensure buy in and to assist with any transition issues.
  • Have regular scheduled meetings with CEOs/executive directors of PTSOs.
  • Offer PTSOs a workshop on policy management that encourages alignment with NSO policies.
  • Include PTSOs in NSO strategic plan development as a means to develop a sense of PTSO ownership and involvement.
  • Collaborate with PTSOs to clearly define the roles of NSO, PTSO, and other sport organizations to avoid duplication of efforts and jurisdictional conflicts, and to build a shared understanding of how best to work together.
  • Engage third-party facilitation to improve dialogue, clarify misunderstandings, and build towards a culture of trust and collaboration at all levels.
  • Encourage PTSOs to have their Board of Directors complete the Governance Essentials E-Learning Course.
Communication Strategies:
  • Use simple language and formatting to ensure people read and understand changes.
  • Provide numerous occasions for feedback and information sessions.

Reliance on Government Funding /OTP

The Risk and its Impacts:

Reliance on government funding that is tied to high performance results, and risk that this funding will not be stable or secure in the long term due to political realities, poor results, and other unforeseen circumstances. Government funding reductions may significantly impact program delivery and athlete development.

  • Refine and deliver a uniform development program (e.g., Run/Jump/Throw, BlastOff, CanBike, Mini Ball) that can be launched nationally to build participation, member numbers, sponsor interest.
  • Pursue alumni development strategies.
  • Pursue fundraising strategies.
  • Investigate improved investment strategies for reserve/foundation funds.
  • Perform intellectual property audit and consider opportunities for exploiting these assets more effectively.
  • Pursue new membership groups and new private partners.
  • Hire an expert to help identify possible revenue streams.
  • Undergo a brand strategy development process to better align with potential partners/funders.
  • Align strategic plan with Canadian Sport Policy goals.
  • Work collectively with PTSOs to secure "sport" sponsor.
  • Re-align business expectations with industry standards, through Imagine Canada standards.
  • Have the right staff in place to ensure top recruitment and performance.
  • Encourage athletes to pursue individual (and non-conflicting) sponsorships.
  • Invest only in programs that further the organization’s mission and vision.
  • Explore using crowd-funding programs.
  • Seek in-kind donations to complement financial contributions.
  • Develop relationship management plans with sponsors as a means to maintain and extend relationships.
  • Seek multi-year sponsorship contracts.
  • Research options for foundation and private donations or grants.
  • Improve quality of project descriptions and reporting as a means to support funding and funding maintenance requests.
  • Promote the successes of athletes at high-profile events to attract sponsors.
  • Contract a marketing specialist to assist with fundraising efforts.
Communication Strategies:
  • Look to present information in a different context so people can appreciate what makes you unique.

Risk of competition manipulation (match fixing)

The Risk and its Impacts:

Deliberate effort to influence elements of a sporting contest or its outcome, usually for financial gain. This threat is often associated with gambling and linked to organized crime.


Safe sport risk occurs (abuse, harassment, maltreatment)

The Risk and its Impacts:

An athlete (or sport participant) experiences a form of abuse, harassment, or maltreatment and suffers mental and/or physical harm. The inherent nature of the sport has potential for safe sport risks: competitive environment, pressure to win, youth of participants, coach-athlete power dynamic. Any athlete, other stakeholder, or the organization itself may experience some form of mental or physical harm (see also “Participant Health and Safety Risk” which addresses more general sport risk).

  • Develop and continuously update a comprehensive Safe Sport Policy Suite, which includes Code of Conduct and Ethics, Athlete Protection, Discipline and Complaints, Event Discipline, Investigations, Dispute Resolution, Appeals, Travel Risk Management, Social Media, Screening, and Reciprocity.
  • Ensure operational compliance with the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS).
  • Hire a Safe Sport Coordinator or Manager who is dedicated to Safe Sport practices, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Transition to SDRCC Safe Sport mechanisms and partner with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) to acquire independent safe sport complaint management and investigation services.
  • Provide PTSOs/clubs with Safe Sport policies, education, and resources.
  • Develop an issues management protocol to establish guidelines for communications and media management, in the event of a safe sport incident or crisis.
  • Institute a Respect in Sport program with all coaches and team personnel.
  • Conduct athlete intake sessions or surveys to identify potential safe sport “red flags.”
  • Include ethics module in NCCP training programs.
  • Compare safe sport policies and procedures with those of other NSOs.
  • Develop and maintain a national database that tracks safe sport violations and serves to prevent abusive coaches from remaining in the sport system.
  • Conduct staff training simulations on how to manage significant safe sport incidents.
  • Increase Board of Directors knowledge on safe sport matters through orientation and intentional board discussion (make it a regular board agenda item).
  • Acquire abuse coverage through insurance provider.

Shortage of qualified coaches and officials

The Risk and its Impacts:

The inability to meet demands and expectations for the sport due to a shortage of qualified coaches and/or officials, resulting in a weakened sport experience.

  • Implement #NoRefNoGame social media campaign to help clubs improve their capacity to attract and retain coaches.
  • Extend coverage of national employment benefits program to salaried club coaches.
  • Collaborate closely with provinces in coach development and official development.
  • Consider an entry-level coach training module to attract young coaches, and to implement in school-based programs.
  • Develop an alumni strategy to improve retention of athletes and their recruitment into coaching and officiating roles after retirement.
  • Prepare formal coach mentorship program to match new coaches with experienced coaches in the system.
  • Ensure appropriate honoraria/per diems for officials.
  • Create True Sport awards and recognition programs for coaches and officials.
  • Provide competitive salaries for national-level coaches.
  • Hire a technical director who can be directly responsible for the effective delivery of coaching and officiating training.
  • Provide greater leadership and support to PTSOs to assist them in their efforts to develop coaches and officials.
  • Make a strong and very public commitment to support coach professional development and coaching excellence.
  • Use AGM/congress to achieve professional development delivery for coaches and officials.
  • Provide coach and officials development and training using innovative new technologies (social media).
  • Establish an officials committee to develop a strategy for recruitment, retention, and mentorship of young officials.
  • Encourage best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of coaching.
  • Develop a professional coaching career path.
  • Develop a strategy that will lead to all national team coaches being full-time, salaried professionals.
Communication strategies:
  • Communicate and promote the benefits of coaching.

Sport lacks strong international profile

The Risk and its Impacts:

The sport lacks a strong profile and reputation within the international community, which inhibits competitive invitations, hosting opportunities, international funding and decision-making influence.

  • Undertake deliberate succession planning for international appointments. Target and develop emerging leaders and support them in their leadership aspirations.
  • Fully fund all international delegates, and institute reporting requirements in exchange for funding.
  • Pursue development of a hosting strategy in conjunction with sport tourism interests.
  • Collaborate with USA counterpart to enhance North American hosting opportunities, and/or other like-minded nations to address imbalances and identify best practices.
  • Support international representatives in creating a communications network or website portal to improve communication and information sharing among them.
  • Create a facility development strategy. Focus on sustaining a small number of highest quality facilities in Canada to assist in hosting efforts.
  • Educate members on opportunities available as an international federation supporter.
  • Identify and capitalize on all advantages offered by the Canadian approach. Identify the unique assets and strengths we bring to the table (e.g., policy development, diversity, safety standards).
Communication Strategies:
  • Communications strategy is focused on branding Canada as a place worthy of hosting international competitions.

Sport membership model is not optimal

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk that the current membership model is not appropriate for the growth of the sport and its athletes or is not aligned with funding guidelines.

  • Use a committee or poll current members on various membership structures and options.
  • For membership fees, develop a formula that is customized to member needs.
  • Where low membership is a threat to funding, consider a national database or other membership tracking system.
  • Communicate the consequences of low registration to membership.
  • Provide education on the benefits of registration, such as club support, access to coaching, insurance, and event planning.
  • Consider recruitment strategies.
  • Explore possible explanations for declining membership. May need to work with PTSOs or regions to find solutions.
  • Identify problematic regions and develop a strategy to invigorate sport participation.
  • Develop an outreach program that PTSOs can use to attract members.
  • Conduct assessment of other sport membership models to identify best practices.
Communication Strategies
  • Communications strategy should be focused on how to manage expectations.

Staff turnover and lack of succession planning

The Risk and its Impacts:

Turnover of key staff and leaders, including the loss of current generation of strong leaders and coaches. The organization may experience loss of key corporate knowledge, interruption of business continuity, duplication of effort and other inefficiencies, loss of strategic focus, and potential relationship damage.

  • Develop a succession plan and/or business interruption plan in the event of the loss or incapacity of key staff and leadership positions
  • Target athletes close to retirement and communicate opportunities to remain involved in the sport in a leadership role (groom future talent).
  • Do a regular review of compensation packages to remain competitive as an employer.
  • Have clear and current written job descriptions for all positions, that are reviewed annually.
  • Offer flexible working environment and flexible office hours.
  • Provide professional development opportunities to enhance growth and job satisfaction of staff and board.
  • Undertake careful staff recruitment to ensure good fit with organizational culture.
  • Promote diversity in hiring practices.
  • Provide detailed orientation program for new staff and board directors.
  • Undertake an independent human resources analysis to ensure optimal structure and functioning of staff.
  • Incorporate organizational values into staff recruitment and evaluation strategies.
  • Build a positive working environment.
  • Conduct structured and well-planned exit interviews to identify unresolved issues and to improve staff positions.
  • Find a way to celebrate your key leaders through planned/scheduled recognition.
  • Establish a transfer of knowledge (TOK) team at the board and staff levels and develop a TOK process to preserve corporate history.
  • Communicate opportunities to remain involved in the sport in a leadership role to alumni.
  • Consider modern work scenarios such as job sharing, flexible office hours, and remote offices.
  • Identify individuals with similar skill sets and job descriptions who can provide short-term help in case of staff turnover or provide mentoring to new staff.
  • Identify what motivates staff (i.e., money, benefits, professional development, projects, team culture, recognition) and use this information to retain them.
  • Develop a board skills matrix to identify desired skills sets.

Weak brand and profile of sport in Canada

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of not building a strong brand that could raise the profile of sport in Canada (e.g., relationships with common interest groups, brand alignment, messaging).

  • Purposefully align events and communications with common interest groups.
  • Invite common interest groups to sit on committees or boards.
  • Consider collaborating with other sport, recreation, education or health partners with similar goals and issues.
  • Undergo a brand strategy development process to better align with partners, including a communications plan.
  • Leverage LTD into branding.
  • Create a common logo for NSO, PTSOs and host communities.
  • Ensure brand is presented appropriately to various audiences.
  • Use strong international profile when possible to build brand domestically.
  • Build awareness by partnering with a recognizable face of the sport.
  • Develop a branding guidelines document.
  • Leverage unique aspects of the sport.
Communication Strategies:
  • Promote written accolades and letters of support.

Weak communications

The Risk and its Impacts:

Internal and external communications are ineffective and lead to misinformation, confusion, and overall member doubt regarding the effectiveness of the NSO.

  • Prepare a comprehensive communications plan – adapt it for different stakeholders, partners, and various media.
  • Increase the frequency of management staff meetings.
  • Have all national coaches meet face-to-face twice per year to improve communication and information sharing.
  • Hold a full staff retreat annually (at minimum) whereby any communications gaps are addressed.
  • Pursue a social media strategy – outsource for expertise.
  • Do regular telephone calls with PTSO leaders to keep them updated, to ensure consistent messaging, and to identify concerns.
  • Prepare minutes of all meetings (e.g., Board, Committees) quickly and post on the website.
  • Do member satisfaction surveys on a regular basis using technology like Survey Monkey.
  • Provide orientation materials to all new committee volunteers.
  • Use website intranet to improve internal communications.
  • Consider conducting committee and board business more regularly on a virtual platform.
  • Issue regular communiqués to the membership, such as an electronic newsletter or email blast.
  • Plan communications activities around upcoming hosted events (i.e., piggyback on events).
  • Maintain a centralized member database to target consistent messaging to appropriate demographic.
  • Include high profile athletes in communications strategy.
  • Provide media training for relevant volunteers, staff, and athletes.
  • For events involving multiple parties, create a multi-party agreement (with guidelines) on communications protocol.
  • Cost share with PTSOs or other NSOs for translation services.
  • Have a board member spokesperson.
  • Develop clear stakeholder communications so their expectations are aligned with the organization’s mission.
  • Develop orientation programs for all relevant scenarios including pre-Games, employment, coaches, etc. Consider using e-learning tools.
  • Ensure branding and messaging is consistent across platforms and levels.
  • Capitalize on resources for athletes provided by third parties.
  • Reference organizational values in all member messaging and be transparent about unsuccessful ventures and future solutions.
Communication Strategies:
  • Continually communicate within the organization and outside the organization using appropriate mediums.
  • Look to have other key stakeholders and partners share your key messages.

Weak governance and board operations

The Risk and its Impacts:

The risk of a weak governance structure at the board level.

  • Create a formalized process of board member training and evaluation.
  • Review sub-board committee structure to ensure alignment to strategic plan.
  • Identify a process of board recruitment and selection that reflects the organization’s vision, mission and values.
  • Identify possible leaders with targeted skills and expertise for board members.
  • Undertake regular environmental scan or SWOT analysis (Strength/Weakness/Opportunity/Threat) to monitor and plan for risk.
  • Create a governance manual which outlines current policies and procedures, as well as relevant job descriptions which carry executive authority.
  • Develop a succession plan for board, senior staff, and key volunteers.
  • Develop a communications plan to clearly show how the board makes decisions.
  • Use organizational core values to enhance decision making (Management by Values approach).
  • Board of Directors’ members must complete the Governance Essentials E-Learning Course as part of their onboarding.

Weak leadership

The Risk and its Impacts:

Risk of not being seen as a system leader during times of change, leading to negative perceptions, mistrust, and damaged relationships.

  • Share important information showing leadership through a communications plan to members, and by providing updates on key issues.
  • Involve PTSOs and members in the conversation during times of change.
  • Find a way to engage certain provinces and territories and for them to champion change.
  • Effectively communicate return on investment and align decision making with corporate values and strategic goals.
  • Identify and offer/recommend leadership development opportunities for staff and board.

Weak organizational structure

The Risk its Impacts:

Organization is not structured to optimize resource use and stakeholder services.

  • Review and update policies and procedures with regularity.
  • Strike staff or board committee, or sub-committee, to provide guidance and research current structure recommendations.
  • Publish current policies to ensure stakeholders can access them.
  • Procure expertise (e.g., legal) to ensure updated policies are aligned.
  • Establish a set of corporate values and guidance principles.
  • Examine the actions of the international federation for successes and challenges.
  • Ensure athlete opinions and concerns are considered in decision making and strategic planning.