Sport Law & Strategy Group Newsletter - May 2013

Published May 28, 2013

Sportlaw LogoSport Law & Strategy Group Newsletter

vol 9(1) - May 2013

This edition of our newsletter features tips for sport leaders in the areas of risk management and policy development, and also provides updates on the Federal NFP Act and the Ontario NFP Act (ONCA).  We also make recommendations for policy creation and disclosure of decisions, and introduce an interesting idea for Board meetings. We have been receiving great feedback about our new handbook - Values-in-Action: Igniting Passion and Purpose in Sport Organizations - and we have provided a sample of the comments from sport executives. Finally, we each reviewed an upcoming trend or issue that we feel will be important this year.

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 November 2012.

We 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.


Federal NFP Act Updates

The countdown continues! Only 17 months to go before federally-incorporated non-profit organizations must transition to compliance with the new NFP Act or face dissolution. In the course of helping over 50 sport organizations with their transition (ranging from simple advice to full-out governance reviews) we have learned many lessons and shared common experiences. In this post related to planning and timing, Rachel posed some standard questions that organizations should be considering during the transition. Then, in a second comprehensive post, Rachel discussed important emerging themes of jurisdiction, director nomination, and athlete representation on the Board of Directors. Lastly, in a third post, Rachel has identified an interesting Industry Canada wrinkle - what do they have on file for your organization? If you feel your organization is not proceeding quickly enough, or if you have reached a roadblock, or if your organization has not yet started the transition (!) please feel free to contact us.

ONCA - Ontario NFP Act Updates

We last wrote about the Ontario Not-for-profit Corporations Act (ONCA) in September 2012 and discussed how sport organizations could overcome some of the expected impacts of the new legislation. Two days after our original post, the Ministry extended the date the ONCA would come into force to July 2013 and we posted that update as well. The extension has recently been further extended to January 1st 2014 – which means that the legislation will not come into force until the end of this year and organizations will have a further three years from that date to transition to compliance. The Ministry has also pledged to take a further look at suggested amendments to the ONCA and release resources to assist not-for-profit corporations with the transition. A draft ‘default by-laws’ was released and though these by-laws do not apply to currently-incorporated organizations, they provide guidance regarding the expected format and language for organizations undergoing a by-laws revision as part of their transition process. A more applicable 'plain language guide' was also made available this week.

We will continue to update Ontario sport organizations about the ONCA via posts on our website and notifications on our Facebook page. You can also email us at or

What We're Watching in 2013

In this wide-ranging post, we each look ahead to expected trends and areas of interest in 2013. Dina is interested in finding out how organizations are using new handbook and living their values, and Hilary is watching the use and impact of the term "disparaging comments" in organizational policy and member discipline. Rachel and LeeAnn are paying close attention to the new federal (NFP Act) and Ontario (ONCA) legislation and how organizations are transitioning. Steve noted that policy drafting remains an area of concern for sport organizations and Kevin is thrilled by the increasing number of organizations interested in developing a social media policy.

The Growing Risk Management Gap

Dina combined academic research and practical experience in this blogpost and discussed the high number of risks shared across National Sport Organizations (NSOs) and how sport leaders can manage these risks. Dina argued that the greatest opportunity is for sport leaders to Reduce the risk by initiating five separate strategies, not for the organization, but across the entire sport sector in Canada. Collaboration across NSOs can bring a number of risk management benefits and would mean fewer headaches for busy sport executives.

Disclosing Discipline Decisions

We often act as a neutral third party to, per an organization's policy, handle dispute decisions or appeals. Once a decision is reached and the resolution is determined, there typically exists one final challenge beyond implementing remedies or sanctions. That is, who gets to know the result of the decision? In some cases, the public disclosure of the decision can be considered harmful to an individual yet beneficial for the organization's members. What is the best approach? In this post, we discussed best practices for organizations challenged by disclosure.

Annual Calendar of Board Meetings

Rachel has noticed that some Boards of Directors are vexed by the frequency of their meetings and what gets accomplished. On one hand, Boards that meet frequently may begin to involve themselves in too many areas or find that issues are getting tabled due to the absence of a director. On the other hand, Boards that meet infrequently often have too much to do during a single meeting which means important topics may get glossed over or pushed aside. One solution that Rachel has proposed is for Boards to have exactly four meetings a year - each with a specific theme (Strategy, Operations, Risk, and Budget). In this way, directors are aware in advance of the meeting topics, can prepare properly, and have a clearly defined role in the stewardship of the organization. An interesting idea!

What Policies Does Your Organization Need?

Policies are often organization-specific but there are common policies that should be in place in nearly all sport organizations. In this blogpost, Kevin wrote about why your organization needs policies, how you can determine what policies your organization needs, and how you can review, approve, and distribute your organization's policies. Kevin also discussed why policies are important - member discipline is just one reason - and suggested policy recommendations for both larger and smaller organizations.

Non-Sport Organizations - NFP Act Transition

Because we are helping so many federally-incorporated sport organizations with their transition to compliance under the new legislation, we have been getting some interest from not-for-profit organizations outside of sport. We are being asked - "Is the transition similar for sport organizations as for non-sport organizations?" and the answer is 'Yes, absolutely!'. We have started assisting some non-sport organizations, affordably and effectively, and we welcome the opportunity to pass along our experience. If you are affiliated with any non-sport, not-for-profit corporations affected by this transition process please feel free to direct them to our website or have them contact us.

Values-in-Action: What Sport Leaders Are Saying

Over 300 copies of Dina's handbook - Values-in-Action: Igniting Passion and Purpose in Sport Organizations - have been sold to sport executives all across Canada.  Some sport leaders have provided feedback about the handbook and how it is being used in their organization. Dina added some extra insight and we are eager to learn how your organization is beginning to activate its values. An order form is for the handbook available on our website.


Our newsletter is distributed three or four times a year.

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