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’.

Challenges to compliance

The Risk:

Inadequate staff capacity or expertise to ensure that organization is compliant with all requirements.

  • Consult with like organizations to determine how they maintain compliance.
  • Seek board members with subject expertise.

Lack of capacity to implement LTAD

The Risk:

Lack of commitment and lack of capacity at branch and club level to successfully implement LTAD.

  • Create LTAD working group (representative of the regions) and assign adequatesome resources to support its work.  
  • Undertake cross-country “road show” to showcase LTAD. 
  • Prepare LTAD educational materials for athletes, coaches and parents. 
  • Undertake a review of competition structure using NSO values to improve alignment with LTAD principles. 
  • Use NSO web site to better assist branches with LTAD information. 
  • Assign NSO staff to work with regions on LTAD implementation. 
  • Use AGMs to allow branches to share best practices on LTAD development. 
  • Leverage organizational values to improve uptake and commitment on LTAD implementation. 
  • Consider revising organizational structure to align with LTAD (for example, assign staff resources to various stages). 
  • Align board portfolios and committee structure with LTAD.
  • 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.

Lack of collaboration and partnerships to enhance sport delivery system

The Risk:

Risk of not pursuing collaboration and partnership with universities to better enhance the sport delivery system.

  • Work closely and supportively with the country’s top four or five university 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. 
  • Strategy to support university-based research and excellence programs, such as academic centres of excellence aligned with high performance centres.
  • Liaise with US schools that draw top Canadian athletes.
  • Get provincial and territorial ED’s and Presidents on board to improve relationships with Canadian universities. 
  • Ensure appropriate collaborative relationship with CIS and CCAA.
  • Communicate the importance of a PTSOs role in the success of implementing a NSO strategic plan, and encourage PTSOs to include activities that support the NSO into 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:

That the sport lacks balance or depth across the country. A small number of 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, as part of a club excellence type program to enhance club capacity.
  • Include a club management module into NCCP curriculum.
  • Align championship events with LTAD 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 PTSO's into regional associations to pool resources and deliver better training to all athletes across the country.
  • Have regular scheduled meetings with PTSO EDs.
  • Consider simplifying LTAD 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.

Lack of inclusion

The Risk:

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

  • Develop and implement policies for gender (e.g., girls on boys’ teams), transgender, and LGBTQ2S inclusion.
  • Connect with CAAWS 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 effective code of conduct in place, and ability to implement disciplinary measures in a professional manner.
  • Be clear that the organization does not discriminate and welcomes of diversity.
  • Explore funding opportunities for athletes with financial challenges.

Lack of internal processes

The Risk:

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.

Lack of qualified staff, board and committee members

The Risk:

Risk of not having sufficient and qualified professional staff (e.g. coaches, medical staff, meet directors, classifiers, administrators) to sustain performance excellence of athletes/teams.

  • Encourage best practices within clubs to promote professionalization of coaching. 
  • Pay all team staff a reasonable honorarium in recognition of their contribution. 
  • Organize an annual technical congress that offers professional development opportunities for coaches, medical staff, classifiers and other technical personnel. 
  •  Prepare detailed job descriptions for all team personnel. 
  • Require all coaches with national teams to be members of Coaches of Canada.
  • Undertake succession planning for meet directors and volunteers in other key roles. 
  • 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). 
  •  Develop a strategy that will lead to all national team coaches being full-time, salaried professionals.
  • Create a formalized alumni program.
  • Establish performance objectives and complete performance reviews.
  • Use part-time staff, temporary staff, or contractors when appropriate.

Lack of safety procedures

The Risk:

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

  • Review Code of Safety on a regular basis and update as required.
  • Assign a liaison to all hosted events to oversee implementation of standards.
  • Consider using insurance levers to promote compliance with national standards (e.g. if standards not met, insurance coverage does not apply to the event). 
  • Emphasize safety issues in all coach educational materials. 
  • Use national team athlete profiles to promote safety message. 
  • 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 re: 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 to safety scenarios as appropriate.

Lack of staff capacity

The Risk:

There is a lack of capacity to fulfill mandate and strategic goals.

  • Allow for 5% of non-allocated time to avoid staff burnout.
  • Attach a price tag to value-added items that stakeholders request.
  • Create and communicate a business case.
  • 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.
  • Adjust the size of deliverables to reflect current capacity to deliver.

Lack of volunteers

The Risk:

Declining quality and quantity of volunteers due to changing demographics, social/economic realities, dual incomes, higher cost of living, higher workplace stress.

  • Officials committee to develop a strategy for recruitment, retention and mentorship of young officials 
  • 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. 
  • 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. Collaborate with Sport Officials of Canada to profile officials 
  • Undertake research into volunteerism trends and their impact on sport (collaborate with Sport Matters Group). 
  • Undertake youth leadership outreach – target and identify youth to participate annually, to groom future leaders for the sport Target recruitment of qualified women.
  • Target recruitment of qualified men & women.
  • 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 youth stage.

Managing competing priorities

The Risk:

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

Managing stakeholder expectations

The Risk:

Risk that services delivered to stakeholders will not be up to standard.

  • 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.

Participant Health and Safety

The Risk:

That the inherent nature of the sport has potential for an unsafe environment: youth of participants, coach-athlete power dynamic, body-image issues, coaches from other cultures, parental attitudes, long training hours, strong emphasis on performance not balanced with safety measures.

  • Institute Respect in Sport program with all coaches, and encourage board members 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 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.
  • Ensure all facility staff have adequate medical training.
  • Have HP athletes undergo a yearly health screening.
  • Ensure orientation and training of staff and volunteers as required (e.g. OHS, Violence in the workplace).
  • Offer training in ethical decision making
  • Pursue Club Excellence certification for all clubs
  • Take steps to use 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 and Respect in Sport resources.
  • Develop education and communication strategies to share safety information.
  • Provide athletes with useful information about lifestyle balance, nutrition, anti-doping, etc.

Poor alignment between NSO and PTSO

The Risk:

Poor alignment of system resulted in disjointed planning, and confusion as to roles and responsibilities of NSO versus PSO in the sport delivery system.

  • Create customized Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with PTSOs. 
  • Encourage all PTSOs to align strategic plans with 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 PTSO EDs.
  • 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.
  • Clearly define the roles of NSO, PTSO and other sport organizations to avoid duplication of efforts and jurisdictional conflicts.

Risk of athlete injury

The Risk:

Risk that an athlete injury will end their career or have long-lasting effects.

  • Educate athletes and coaches about preventative measures to reduce likelihood of injury.
  • Be a champion for research and safety developments for injuries predominant in your sport.
  • Consult with other sports who deal with similar types of injuries.

Risk of staff turnover

The Risk

Risk of turnover of key staff and leaders, including loss of current generation of strong leaders and coaches.

  • Prepare an interruption management plan in the event of the loss or incapacity of key staff positions. 
  • Target athletes close to retirement and communicate opportunities to remain involved in the sport in a leadership role. 
  • Do a regular review of compensation packages to remain we are competitive as an employer. 
  • Have clear and current written job descriptions for all positions. 
  • Offer flexible working environment and flexible office hours. 
  • Provide professional development opportunities to enhance growth and job satisfaction of staff. 
  • Undertake careful employee recruitment to ensure good fit with organizational culture. 
  • Define succession plans for key administrative staff. 
  • Promote diversity in hiring practices. 
  • Provide detailed orientation program for new employees. 
  • Undertake an independent human resources analysis to ensure optimal structure and functioning of staff. 
  • Incorporate organizational values into employee recruitment and evaluation strategies.
  • Build a positive working environment.
  • Conduct exit interviews.
  • Find a way to celebrate your staff, athletes, coaches, volunteers.
  • Establish a TOK (transfer of knowledge) team (at the board and staff level).
  • Develop a succession plan and/or business interruption plan.
  • Communicate opportunities to remain involved in the sport in a leadership role to alumni and athletes close to retirement.
  • Provide and encourage staff to find opportunities for professional development.
  • Consider modern work scenarios such as job sharing, flexible office hours, and remote offices.
  • Identify individuals with similar skill sets/job descriptions who can help in case of staff turnover or provide mentoring to new staff.
  • Cap the number of terms a board director may serve to ensure fresh perspectives.
  • Consider different methods of preserving corporate history.

Shortage of qualified coaches and officials

The Risk:

Inability to meet demands for sport due to shortage of qualified coaches and/or officials.

  • Implement Club Excellence type program 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 officials 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. Increase honoraria/per diems paid to officials. 
  • Create 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. 
  • Utilize AGM to achieve professional development delivery for coaches, officials and others in the sport in addition to governance issues. 
  • Provide coach and officials development and training using innovative new technologies (social media).

Weak organizational structure

The Risk:

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 have access.
  • Procure expertise (e.g., legal) to ensure updated policies are aligned.
  • Consider Club Excellence program.
  • 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.