Sports Management


Sports is an activity, or an experience focused on form, leisure, athletics or recreation which can be simple acts such as work outs, pacing and dancing (Pitts et al 1994, pp. 15). It is no doubt that Australia has achieved major milestones in development and successes in sports over the past several decades. Over this same time, many developments have taken place within domestic context and across the globe in regards to challenges and opportunities in sports. These developments form the motivation for stakeholders in Australia to take necessary measures to ensure the success trend continue on its course.

Deliberate actions have been taken in the past including several inquiries and reports. Examples include the Oakley report and the inquiry into women in sport. The government has also had several sports Acts reviewed in line with the need to enhance and sustain the progress. Reform is the key word in the area of sport management yet little has happened despite many suggestions and recommendations. Many stakeholders agree that the best approach is to embrace a comprehensive system targeting all sports levels in Australia. The sport structure and stakeholders in Australia is quite elaborate and comprehensive. The organization comprises the Commission, Anti-doping authority and the division of Health and Aging. The other stakeholders include government institutions and academies, sporting organizations, public and sports associations. These stakeholders are important in the management of sports individually and as an industry. Sport management is actually the learning and participation of people, organizations, and activities involved in assisting, advancing or organizing sport associated functions or products. These structures and management have proved successful in the past, and hence they will play an influential role in shaping future sports management (Daly 1985, pp. 15). Despite the general success and improvement in sports, the focus targets specific segment of the Australian population as a complementary method to ensure sports success across all diversities. Some of the targeted segments include women, disabled and indigenous communities.

Sports play a key role in the lives of Australians. Apart from the economic benefits, sports facilitate integration of social diversities, support and enhance healthy lifestyles, improve the nation image/international engagement and consolidate nationalism among Australians. Through sports, different cultures and diversities from across Australia and the world meet and exchange their experiences. Sport events help market Australia as a tourist destination and a hub for  investments and trade. Healthy lifestyle and discipline are an essential component in the society. Australia stands ahead of it equals or other developed nations in terms of controlling diseases and challenges that are attributed to an inactive physical lifestyle such as diabetes and obesity. This happens through the incorporation of sport culture among the communities. Exercise through sports play a great role in enhancing preventative health. Despite the many successes, emerging and existing challenges continue to pose a significant concern to stakeholders in the industry. Mismanagement, inefficiencies and complacency are the current main threats to the success of sports in Australia. Poor or lack of implementation of programs and reform changes shows  areas of focus in order to sustain the progress achieved so far.

Sport management

Management of sport can take the form of four groups or clusters. The four clusters are information management, general management tasks, exercise and sport science and organizational management (DeSensi et al 1990, p.45). The sport industry nature and scope can be defined by is type, setting and segment.

Setting: The sport industry by setting comprise professional sport, college sport, private club sport, community recreation sport program, sport projects in social agencies, sport marketing and consulting companies and Amateur sport organizations. Others also include industrial sport programs, military sport programs, and developmental projects for sports, sports media and academic programs in sport administration.

By type: The industry takes the form of traditional and new sports. Traditional sports examples include football, basketball and tennis among others while the new sports comprise forms of aerobics, boogie boarding, kayaking, ice surfing, skydive and indoor soccer.

By segment: The segment category comprises the product type, economic impact and sport activity models.

Industry competencies

The sport industry in Australia has experienced growth in general management, organization and information competencies. Organizational management addresses issues of managing personnel, resources, budget, coordination, control, directing and leadership. Information management supplement organizational management and addresses the areas of selling, relationship with the media, maintaining statistics, promoting, advertising, developing publications and sourcing funds (Russell 2006, p.15). On the other hand,  general sport management handles issues of marketing and sales, record maintenance, public relations, communication and community relations.

The future of the sport industry faces several challenges and opportunities. Stakeholders are looking at ways to harness technology in the development and improvement of sports. Ethical issues are fast rising with concerns on gender considerations, class elements, and equity and race issues raising to the fore and threatening to negate the progress achieved so far. The environment is fast changing, and concerns on the impact of sports to the environment are becoming a concern. Conservationists and environmentalists are raising concerns to fishing sports and game hunting. Another major concern for the future is the accessibility of sports to diverse composition of the Australian population especially the disadvantaged segments such as disabled, minority and indigenous population.

The structure of sport in Australia

The traditional sport is well organized and managed as compared to the new sport. Mainstream sport is defined through formal structures and comprises a network of support stakeholders such as government, sport associations and clubs. The long history of sports coupled with increased participation and success by its athletes attracted the administration to invest more resources in sports and consequently enhanced order in the sector. The earlier sport system of the 70s has been replaced by the present systems due to their inabilities to provide direction and necessary skills to match national and international standards. The current Australia sport structure is equal to any of the best in the world in terms of organization (Daly 1985, pp.13). The current sport infrastructure is based on a system called ‘four pyramids of sport’. The system is founded on a pecking order structure that uses the various levels of government and involvement of other stakeholders such as sport clubs, sports organizations, associations, institutes and professional leagues. The pyramid formation ensures the system balances the polar ends and strikes a balance between vertical and horizontal flow of coordination. The pyramid structures foster harmony and synchronization of resources, policies, regulations, and other stakeholders.


The outer ring defines the community level sport activities. It reflects and represents the groups at the basic or local level. They form the foundation and the source that provides and feeds the rest of the segments up to the elite levels. The outer ring in like the raw material that feeds the production system and hence they are a key component in the success of the structure. Like in many parts of the world, the respective local authorities own these local level sport facilities. The club system form a critical part at this level and participation is mainly on a voluntary basis. Most of the participants and managers at this level lack the necessary skills and experience to manage sports and resources. The inner rings represent progression towards more skillful and better-organized segment of the industry fraternity. Progression for the outer ring to the inner ones represent career enhancement of athletes through a structured Australian sport development system. The interrelations and coordination among the network of rings and stakeholders represent the structure that cements the sport development in the country (Kellet & Russell 2009, p. 68). Resources are critical in ensuring that the sport infrastructure is developed right form the local authority level. The key to future Australia sport success depends largely on how the neat network of stakeholders and sport infrastructure can adapt and embrace emerging dynamics in the sport industry.

The governing, funding and policy formulation bodies are represented by the inner most ring. They comprise bodies such as ASC, NSOs, institutes and elite leagues. The institutes are important in providing training, coaching and relevant sport science framework and opportunity for premium performers. The four-pyramid structure forms the essence of sport management and development in Australia and equally provides the basis for future changes in the sport industry (Kellet & Russell 2009, p. 68).

The traditional sports have reached plateau stage in the Australian sport industry. They are largely mature, and as a result, there is an inclination towards forming clusters. The concept of cluster as defined by Porter can be used to describe the overlapping tendencies of several segments in the sport industry. A few examples in the Australian context involve the football league and golf. The clusters provide synergetic relations and mutual dependencies where such cluster sports consolidate member networks and support each other in pursuit of sport objectives (Kellet & Russell 2009, p. 69). For examples, the different leagues have collaborated with stakeholders in diverse fields such as media and through partnerships; they are able to solicit resources for future sustenance of sport.

Shilbury’s cluster model is an upshot of the pyramids concept and assumes all the elements of the pyramid are fulfilled such as participants in the cluster are well resourced; opportunities are open while sport progression channel is open. These well-established formal structures influence the cluster formations by the various bodies. Clusters arise because they boost the output with which segments can compete. The development and promotion of clusters is an essential program for management, organizations, and other institutions. Cluster growth initiatives are imperative new trends in economic policies optimal use and harnessing of resources. Cluster concept has become the regular model for policy formulators to advance national, regional, and domestic competitiveness, modernization and growth (Michael Porter 2000, pp. 18), Clusters in sports industry are groups of sports segments and non-sport organizations for whom association inside the group is a vital element of each member’s individual competitiveness. The sports clusters concept requires cooperation and shared reliance between stakeholders in the sport industry productivity. Such cooperation is fundamental to removal of barriers, creating suitable inputs, information, and infrastructure.

Studies show that the enrolment and participation in traditional sport areas has experienced slow rate of enrolment over the past few years. On the other hand, the action industry has experienced steady growth in Australia sport industry. There are several emerging challenges as this segment of the industry has no proper established structures and management plans. This growing structure presents an important field for study and an opportunity and stimulus to other industry segments. Proper management of this growing sport segment will help the country sustain the entire sport industry and provide the necessary motivation for future developments.


The generation Y is the main consumer of action sport that forms one of the varieties of the new sports. Unlike the conventional sport supply and demand sides that are, well documented, very little of the supply side is known. The new sport has shown significant growth in the recent past and hence, the need for more studies and understanding. The new sport has features and characteristics that are different from the traditional ones, and this could be the reason for demand from generation Y. The sport is characterized by more freedom, risky nature, carefree and peculiar nature. These modern sports have attracted different social and demographics participants. In Australia, action sport development is not known, unlike the structured and formalized traditional sports. Many interrogations abound this segment of sports include its formation and structures, management of resources, accessory products, organizations and associations and the diversities around the sport (Kellet & Russell 2009, p. 69). It is a paradox that there is a clear record of rising growth in the action sport while very little information is available in regard to other variables in the segment. Structuring of the action sport started with involvement of business people who were keen to capitalize on a market that was showing a progress in growth and popularity. Action sport growth is partly driven by the rising purchasing power of generation Y in Australia. The balance for sport fan base by generation Y is shifting in favor of action sport.

Development and participation in actions sports is taking a different approach. Lifestyle forms a key part of the sport, and it encompasses other accessories such as dressing and music (Kellet & Russell 2009, p. 67). The cultural aspects are pronounced and distinctly different from that of the traditional games. The business model in this segment is equally different with high revenues attained from the sale of accessory and product extensions. The sector success has managed to attract and pull the support of many other stakeholders who compete for a stake in the segment. The stakeholders are keen to use the sport in reaching their target market. Apart from the fact that action sport is unstructured, enrolment in participation is higher, little is known about action sport in Australia. A key divergence of action sport from the traditional model is the non-existence of structures that make a clear cut among providers, sponsors and partakers (Martin & Sunley 2003, pp. 22).

The development of the new sport has taken a different path from that of traditional sport. The free market and almost capitalist approach has attracted interested stakeholders who have bolstered its ability to be self sufficient and independent in both finances and infrastructural issues (Porter 1998, pp. 82). The new sport has managed to nature its own culture distinct from other sports. The autonomous evolution experienced in action sport has played a principal role in development of the cluster concept. Business minded individuals and other stakeholders come together to foster their interests in the cover of a cluster. The main motivation in cluster development is the profit or self-interest of members. In Australia, stakeholders have tried to integrate and unstructured sports into the mainstream structures, but most of these attempts have failed. Reasons for this failure mainly stems from the characteristic of the sport that entail freedom, risk-taking nature that is not a feature in the mainstream sport.

Social/Cultural variable

Cultural and social aspects are a significant driver in today’s sport industry. History is dotted with narratives of how communities from diverse origins and characteristic have interacted and shared platforms due to sports. The role of sports in the social context cannot be overemphasized. Sport cement communities and enhance security by ensuring they put their difference aside and engage in friendly and mutually beneficial exercise. Sports can be expressly credited with improvement in integration and cohabitation of diversities. Issues regarding race, status, religion, ethnicity and all other issues that define the Australia’s diversity have been harmonized by sport activities. In the pyramid structure, that defines the management and development of sport, the communities and local participation forms the core source and conduit that feed the entire industry athletes. The local communities for many years have embraced sports as a cultural component that facilitates socialization and interaction between participants. It is unlikely that this formation will change anywhere in the near future and hence the sport management has no choice but to foster and harness better programs to rejuvenate this important segment of the sport industry. The world has witnessed dramatic changes in almost all facets of life and sport is no exception.

Many variables such as changing culture, technology, policy formulations and regulations from government and stakeholder bodies have significantly affected the current and influenced shaping of future sports management. Nationalism and patriotism are important aspects in fostering nationhood. Sport has been in the forefront in this endeavor. Many nations that may still be disadvantaged in terms of economic development and political development have pursuit and excelled in sports and used it as a tool for boosting and motivating citizens to be proud and appreciate their countries. Although Australia is a stable and prosperous nation in regards to the economy and political matters, sports has been critical in galvanizing and ensuring stability among the diverse communities. Sport has been used to foster a sense of nationhood and help boost the country’s image. Sports can be used in a positive way to show a nations prowess in its systems and the way the citizens manage their life. For example, a country that has embraced a healthier diet practice and active life style will enjoy a comparative advantage in sports that demand physical advantage. The cultures of certain nations tend to be influenced by others. For example, the European football leagues currently dominate as the leading favorite sport in the globe. The current trends in the global and mainly European football tend to favor the shareholders and the sponsors at the expense of supporters/fans. To a large extend, acceptance of sports across the globe depends on the acceptance of origin for that sport. Sports are a reflection of a peoples way of life and hence by accepting and embracing a foreign sport implies a harmonization and acceptance of diversity and hence a better world for humanity.

Many sports have been introduced into Australia such as the action sport. These sports are proving to be the next frontier in the sport industry. They present a good opportunity for growth and rejuvenation in an industry that needs constant revitalization. A good example is in the earlier days, participation in sports was a field for the able men. This means that certain segments of the society such as women, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the society were not participating in sports. The changing culture and trends in the world are changing the social stereotypes and embracing more of these segments in the society. This positive adaptation of culture through sports is not only enhancing the individual rights, but it presents another frontier for the industry development. These groups are forming clusters that have shown a potential to reinvigorate the industry. Sports associations for women and disabled athletes have emerged, and they are attracting specific and unique sponsors and partners who were not originally stakeholders in the industry. Some sports have been used by nations as a symbol of their nations. For example, Kung fu sport has been for many years associated with the Chinese culture. Americans are closely associated with short races although they have recently experienced stiff competition from Jamaicans.

Sports in many nations have influenced the political scene and the social ways of life. Politicians have used the sport industry to target certain segments of the society. An example is in cases where they have targeted the youth and tended to influence their political inclination. Communities around the world have embraced different nutritional lifestyles and sport has been in the center in ensuring the focus towards a better lifestyle is achieved. Many nations that have for years fought the negative effects of poor lifestyle habits have resulted to sports for solutions. Sports associations and healthcare groups have scouted the world in search of the best sports and cultural activities that will assist fight the emerging challenges. Some of the sports deemed as ‘good’ have received rejections in the importing countries. Several factors can be attributed to this, but the main one is the manner and methods of delivering such sports. In a culturally sensitive nation, imposition of a foreign sport may face resistance. Some cultures are quite sensitive and particular in embracing foreign concepts. Such experiences are driving forces that reinforce the need for better sports management in the current and future elements of the industry.

Sport managers and policy formulators especially in the action sports and new sports are required to match the demand and supply ends of the industry. Appreciation of the different cultures and formulation of sports programs that can harmonize and synergize the diversity are the new focus for sport managers and all other stakeholders.  In advancing cultural diversities, the management should consider the needs of the host country and any emerging dynamics. The future of sports lies in the ability of the industry management to embrace innovation and diversification from the conventional sports. The modern sports are mainly a blend of different experiences and the way of life for certain communities. Such developments start from small recreation game that grows to be major sports. These progressions from a community recreation games to international sports imply that the integration of different cultures contributes and will continue to be an important   factor in the globalization and development of the industry.

Emerging challenges

Aging population

The aging population of Australia is a factor to consider. Participation in sports mainly involves the younger energetic population. This population forms the pool through which talent is identified and natured.


Many of the traditional competitors are significantly adding their resource investments in sports. Some of these nations such as China and USA have large economies that can support such investments.

Use of drugs

The use of banned drugs has been on the rise across the world. This vice affects sport negatively in terms of image and fairness for competing nations. Stakeholders in Australia sports administration have to develop new ways of managing the problem (Australian Government (nd), p. 9).

Management of emerging sports

It is expected that new sports will continue to emerge in the future. Despite this acknowledgement, many nations including Australia have no programs to handle such developments. This is evident from the way they have managed action sports.

Ethical issues

Cases of corruption and bad practices among officials and athletes have been rampant  in the past few years, and the trend is worrying. Officials among the stakeholders are mentioned and prosecuted for resource mismanagement and anti-sport behaviors. The same applies to the participants and athletes. Some of the athletes have focused more on a personal benefit at the expense of the nation.

Future of sport and delivery systems

Efficient use of resources

Combining better methods and technology will help enhance the use of resources. The pyramid structure used in traditional sports, and the developing cluster structure in new sports need harmonization in order to enjoy the best. Efficient use of contribution from all stakeholders will enhance synergy and optimal utilization of the resources.


Investment in research will lead and guide innovations into new sports, new systems and new programs. Linkages between the sports stakeholders especially the academic institutions and sports management will be important in this endeavor. Comparative advantage will be a challenge for Australia management hence the need to move towards competitive advantage which can be attained through innovation and better management of resources.

Sport management

Investments in professional management in sports just like in the business world are the sure way to go. Coaches, medical experts, finance managers, talent recruitment agents must be harmonized and refocused for the common interest of sport fraternity. Some of the challenges experienced are because of poor sports management by the stakeholders. The role of each stakeholder should be recognized and harnessed in line with the interest of the entire sport industry. Academies and talent search programs form the foundation for replenishment and sustenance of the sport industry. Their rightful contribution need to be enhanced and maintained if the industry will survive in the future (Van der Smissen 1987, pp. 102).

Future strategies in delivery

Merging institutions and capacities

The stakeholders should address challenges posed by competition among institutions such as the case between Australia Institute of sports (AIS) and territory institutes. Competition minimizes synergetic advantages and sometimes leads to duplications of activities and resources. A single organization will work better for the sport industry (Crawford 2009, p. 3). It is evident that the cluster system has worked well in delivery of sport in the particular segment. On the other hand, the pyramid system has worked well in the traditional sports. Both methods have their own challenges in strengths and weaknesses. Sports management should identify the strong point from both systems and develop a more competitive structure (Shilbury 2000, pp. 205). For example, the cluster system has proved excellent in sourcing for its own recourse. On the other hand, the pyramid structure has ensured stability and harmony in the traditional field. Merging the two or more features will help develop the necessary competitive advantage. A system that allows for commercialization of the industry in the traditional sports as well as ensuring an effective administration system will be a sure way to achieve better results. Organizations at the National and state levels should be resources and enhanced so as to take strategic roles at all levels of sports (Janice 2009, p.1).

Sports Vision and Reforms

The vision should be well defined, and the framework regarding to resources and assessment addressed effectively. Australia should look into the best practices in the world and synthesis them to come up with the vision for its sport industry. Stakeholders should embrace a vision that prioritizes the interests of the country such as team sports or national image before anything else (Crawford 2009, p. 2). A balance between popular sport and national sports interests such as access to sport by all should be addressed. The systems and infrastructure as define in the pyramid and cluster models need reforms to ensure their individual strengths are harnessed for the interest of the industry. The reform agenda at the sports commission should be an ongoing process to ensure timely responses to the dynamic industry. The sport system should be simple and agile so as to avoid being an impediment.

Talent pool at schools and community

Creation of a strong talent base is another area of focus for the sport industry in Australia. Incentive programs should be established to improve the rate of talent absorption among the young and upcoming athletes (Green 2005, pp. 240). The pool must be expanded in line with the emerging needs and dynamics in the industry. Stakeholders need to encourage the use of sports as a preventative measure for ill health associated problem, and in return, this will indirectly increase the participation of citizens in sports (US Department of Health and Human Services 1997, pp. 15). This shift in focus can be addressed by supporting linkages between sports and health departments. Revival of school, college and community sports programs that form the foundation blocks will assist in this endeavour (Crawford 2009, p. 4). Incentive programs that encourage volunteer participation in sports must be addressed in order to enhance identification of natural talents. Local level and grass root projects and infrastructure need a face-lift and more resources since the current ones are overstretched (Crawford 2009, p. 4).

Open Sport System

Cultural stereotypes and biases have limited participation of special segment in Australia sport industry. The use of celebrated athletes as role models is a sure way to start. Effective media and branding strategies should be in place to ensure sustainable advocacy mechanisms. Women sport league developments in every sport alongside those of men is a good starting point. Stakeholders should organize associations and organizations to cater for the needs of the disadvantaged segments (Crawford 2009, p. 5). A harmonized and collaborated funding mechanism for the indigenous communities must be addressed in order to boost efficiency and optimization of results (Australian Government (nd), p. 7-9).

The strategy such as taking products and services to customers as used in the corporate world can be adopted to encourage indigenous communities to participate in sport while undertaking their own activities. The indigenous communities have strong cultures in both ways of life and sport activities. The stakeholders need to identify and sale the acceptable sports that are in line with their culture while adjusting the rest to fit in their culture or meet a compromised position. Access to sport facilities is a significant concern for the disabled talented citizens. More facilities should be built closer to such groups, or mobility facilitation is in place for the same.

Resource Sustainability

The administration funding mechanism should be based on sports policy framework. Channel resources through the available territory institutes and academies in order to grow talents. Encourage new graduates from sports training facilities to volunteer time and expertise into the sport system. In order to have a head start, the stakeholders should consider using the existing lottery revenue systems to solicit for resources. Sports foundation should be reformed to address the resource needs in the current industry environment. Stakeholders in the sports and health departments should explore alternative cost reduction methods in order to increase participation levels.

General challenges

The Australian government and the stakeholders are working with the rest of the word in developing a better anti-doping program. Supports mechanisms for the institutions charged with this responsibility are a show of commitment for the future of the sport industry. Management skills programs for sports athletes is another field the government and stakeholders are trying to address. Athletes earn reasonable incomes , but some of them end up mismanaging their earnings. Stakeholders are stepping in to ensure Athletes invest their earnings well and in return this will enhance their role model image. In addition, skills are imparted on athletes to manage public relations and celebrity status.


The challenge in addressing sustainability of success enjoyed by the Australian sport industry is real. The country cannot rely on past memories to succeed in the future but can learn from such experiences in order to devise programs that address the emerging needs. Most stakeholders agree that the future of the industry lie in the abilities to strengthen and adopt competitive advantage variables. All stakeholders agree that sport industry has had exceptional effects on the social and cultural aspects, and this will remain in the coming generations. Reforms in management, innovations and diversification are key ingredients in addressing current and future challenges in the industry.

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