What We’re Watching in 2016

This blogpost will review the topics and issues that we will be paying attention to in the upcoming year. We write a similar post every year (2015, 2014) and this year we even hosted a free webinar on the subject (attended by representatives from sport organizations across the country).

Dina – During the webinar I spoke about the needs of a 21st century sport organization. I strongly believe that an understanding of the “big picture” will be necessary for organizations to succeed and thrive. The building blocks of governance, strategic and financial planning, strategic communication, legal and ethical policies, risk management, and a values-based culture all support a healthy organization. Organizational leaders need to be the architects. They need to be reflexive, reactive and, most importantly, respectful. A work environment that fosters respect and is free from harassment is vitally important. My ongoing efforts coaching sport leaders and speaking out against harassment in the sport workplace will continue into 2016. DBL@sportlaw.ca

Rachel – I’m back! For much of last year I was lecturing at Brock University and then travelling the continental USA. It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to engaging more in sport issues this year. I continue to teach at the university and I’m understanding more about how this millennial generation learns and communicates. This generation prefers participative and collaborative interactions, wants real time feedback, and communicates almost exclusively by text and instant-message. They also value meaningful work and are receptive to a ‘management by values’ philosophy. How will they integrate into the workplace and how can sport organizations adapt? Three generations of workers will be intermixing in sport organizations and I’m eager to see what challenges and benefits are ahead. RMC@sportlaw.ca

Steve – An advisory committee will be created in Ontario this year in response to a young rugby athlete’s death due to multiple concussions. The committee will advise on Ontario-specific recommendations for new concussion protocols and,  possibly, a new concussion law. Ontario may be the first province in Canada with concussion-related legislation. Organizations without existing head trauma policies should be encouraged to introduce them – and organizations with existing policies should consider a review. I have been closely following each stage of this process and will continue to do so throughout the year. SJI@sportlaw.ca

Kevin – My focus in 2016 will be threefold. First, I continue to pay attention to the new case law that involves social media and the evolution of the legal system’s understanding of the new ways to communicate. Second, I am highly engaged with member misconduct issues (especially on social media) and sport organizations’ preventative and reactive measures. Finally, the BC Societies Act will be coming into force in November of this year. I have been watching the progress of the new Act carefully over the past two years and I am excited at the opportunity to work with BC-based sport organizations in their transition process. KRL@sportlaw.ca

LeeAnn – Many pieces of legislation have undergone recent updates and sport organizations will need to adjust how they comply with the updates to the law. In Ontario, updates to both the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) are requiring additional compliance obligations on behalf of organizations. The OHSA in particular is expected to have an expanded definition of ‘workplace harassment’ that could influence changes in other provinces. In addition to compliance, I will also be working closely with Dina to lead and deliver risk management programs to interested provincial and territorial sport organizations. LLC@sportlaw.ca

Kathy – This year will be my second full year working with the Sport Law & Strategy Group and I have been fortunate to be involved with many large, long-term projects. I recognize that sport organizations will often have big ideas (and the funding to implement them) but not always the necessary capacity or skills to get started or maintain momentum. I have helped organizations with large financial reviews, human resources assessments, and launching major national change initiatives. In some cases I have also helped sport organizations apply for the initial grant funding, and in other cases I have been available to trouble-shoot mid-project and help an organization regain forward momentum. I am eager to continue assisting organizations with navigating these complex projects. KEH@sportlaw.ca

Jason – This year I was engaged by a large outdoor retail organization to conduct a risk management audit of all their public sport events (road races, bike races, sprint triathlons, etc.) and outdoor staff excursions. The result was a comprehensive identification of risks, a thorough risk analysis, and a number of recommendations for solutions and considerations. Risk management audits of an organization’s events (ranging from a club-hosted tournament to an NSO-hosted international championship) are very important to the success of the event and the organization’s overall goals. I expect to focus some of 2016 on helping sport organizations with these event risk management audits. In addition, I am focused on providing marketing and sponsorship support to our clients. This includes property identification and valuation, sponsorship packages and partner acquisition.  JER@sportlaw.ca

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