Sport Law & Strategy Group Newsletter - February 2014

Published February 21, 2014

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Sport Law & Strategy Group Newsletter

vol 10(1) - February 2014

This edition of our newsletter features tips for sport leaders in the areas of work-life balance and risk management. We have also written interesting articles about dispute and appeals management, governance reform, and a new standard of care for sport organizations. Our annual 'what we are watching' post describes the coming trends and issues we expect in 2014, and brief updates are provided for the NFP Act and the ONCA. A lot is happening in the sport community right now and we expect to be sending another newsletter of new information before the end of March.

Our quarterly newsletter has brought you important content in the following areas: legal updates, new legislation and case law, governance tips, risk management and values management practices, social media, communications strategies, as well as all kinds of other planning and strategic advice. We published our last newsletter in October 2013.

We typically send our newsletter every three or four months. The content includes summaries and links to material that we have posted on our website - plus updates on current events and other news. You can also join our Facebook page and get immediate updates.  If you don't want to receive the newsletter - no problem - just choose to unsubscribe at the bottom of this message.

What We're Watching in 2014

We annually review our 2013 activities and look ahead to what we feel will be important in 2014. This year we will see the NFP Act come into full force and many organizations will be operating under different governance structures with brand new challenges. Funding issues have affected some MSOs and human resources matters may continue to increase. Ontario-based organizations are feeling the spectre of the ONCA but can learn important lessons from their national counterparts who have already been through the transition process. We are also seeing new developments in social media strategy and the new anti-spam legislation will affect how organizations communicate with their members. An exciting year to come!

Sochi Disputes

Throughout the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Hilary will be reviewing the decisions made on-site by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and the possible implications of those decisions. There have been two decisions so far and more are expected by the end of the Games. New analysis will be posted on our Facebook page soon after the decisions are released.

Lessons Learned in Dispute Management

The potential for disputes in National Sport Organizations (NSOs) is quite high, and disputes can be both costly and acrimonious. But disputes can be avoided with clearly written policies and well-managed appeals. Back in 2005, Athletics Canada had to deal with an incredible 19 appeals of carding nominations! This number has steadily declined as Athletics Canada applies its experience in dispute management to resolve these issues before they occur. In this blogpost, written as an interview between Scott MacDonald (High Performance Director with Athletics Canada) and Rachel Corbett (Designated Official for appeals) we explore what steps Athletics Canada has taken to improve its process and the lessons learned along the way.

Rachel has also written a blogpost about the importance of time limitations. The SDRCC has recently rejected a third case because the claimant took too long to bring forward the claim. These are significant victories for NSOs that underscore the importance and enforceability of time limits contained with policies and rules (and in this case, within the SDRCC Code). These cases are also cautionary tales to all claimants including athletes, coaches, and officials.

Work - Life Balance

Dina wrote her thoughts about the necessity of work-life balance for sport professionals who feel they are 'on call' 24/7. She compares this to an athlete's recovery period - even our businesses need to rest. Dina evokes an equation of business success = happy people + good strategy + positive work environment and unpacks each of those qualities.

Lessons on Leadership

Dina wrote about her recent experience in Nicaragua and how being perceived as 'warm and caring' may give leaders more influence rather than if they were perceived to be authoritative and competent. Dina offered five tips for fellow Canadian sport leaders that may help others perceive their leadership as 'not a threat but a gift'.

Tips for Risk Management - Where to Start?

In two blogposts, Rachel discussed tips and challenges for risk management - always a topic worthy of discussion in sport organizations. Rachel and Dina recently completed their 30th risk management workshop in the Risk Management Project and in this blogpost about types of risk Rachel categorized the type of risks faced by sport organizations. Classifying risks is a good start to the discussion. In another blogpost about risk management tips, Rachel reviewed suitable tips for individuals in community sport to start thinking about risk management.

Governance Reform

Both the NFP Act and the ONCA offer opportunities for individuals to really start thinking about the type of sport organization they want. What type of Board do we have? What's the difference between Board types? Do we have a conflict of interest policy? Are Board meetings productive? Governance reform encompasses all of those questions and more. This blogpost on governance reform can be used by Ontario-based organizations and clubs who are just becoming aware of the ONCA to inform about some of the topic areas that should be at the front of the transition discussion.

NFP Act and ONCA

We are working with over 70 organizations on their transition to the NFP Act - but time is running out!  Less than eight months to go and some organizations will face dissolution! If you have any NFP Act questions please feel free to email Rachel at As for the ONCA, the regulations still have not been released but the legislation is expected to come into force at any time. Some Ontario-based organization are getting ahead of the group and beginning their transition now. We are also able to give presentations to PSOs or groups of clubs that are looking for more information. Please contact Steve at

Anti-Spam Legislation

New anti-spam legislation is coming in July 2014 that will affect every sport organization and how they communicate with members. Organizations who communicate with groups of individuals will need to get people to 'opt-in' to receive email. Even the Sport Law & Strategy Group is affected and you can watch for our opt-in email for our newsletter soon. Also watch for our forthcoming article on this legislation, what it means for you, and practical steps your organization should take to be compliant with the new law.

Next Newsletter

A lot is happening right now in the sport community and we expect to release our next newsletter in late March. In the meantime you can keep updated with our blogposts by following us on Facebook.

When Rough Play Becomes Assault - R. vs. Adamiec

Hilary reviewed a 2013 case that originally saw a soccer player convicted of assault for kicking the goalie. The case was overturned on appeal with the judge deciding that the actions that occurred were part of the "acceptable conduct" that might occur during a contact sport. The case has implications in sport as to what may be considered the customary norms of rules of the game and, particularly in hockey and football, we are seeing these norms and degree of acceptability continue to evolve.


Our newsletter is distributed three or four times a year.

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The "F" Word...


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