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’.

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 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 qualified board directors and/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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.