This past week our graduate class took a look at Sport, and more notably sport policy in Canada. One of the root articles that we looked at was an evaluation paper on Sport Canada’s Sport Funding and Accountability Framework (SFAF). I know it has the most interest name possible… In actuality though this article demonstrates the direction Sport Canada had for their funding of sports in the years of 1995- 2004, and how the SFAF was the backbone for the creation of what we know today as the Canadian Sport Policy.
The Sport Funding and Accountability Framework
The Sport Funding and Accountability Framework (SFAF) was used by Sport Canada from 1995 to 2004 to not only identify which National Sport Organization (NSO’s) were eligible but the areas, level and condition funding was going to be received. The SFAF consisted of a pilot year which was in 1995 as well as three additional phases, SFAF I (1996- 2000), SFAF II (2001 – 2004) and SFAF III (2005 -2010). “Initially SFAF criteria were heavily weighted towards elite success with less emphasis given to broader social objectives” (Havaris & Danylchuk, 2010, p. 32), however, as SFAF II began there was recognition of a shift in federal policy direction. The shift consisted of moving towards a broader conception of sport objectives and moving away from high performance sport.
Just to get you thinking what do you think has brought about this shift of direction from high performance to broader sport objectives?
Havaris and Danylchuk’s (2010) article conducted an evaluation of Sport Canada’s SFAF model, the purpose of the article was to assess the effectiveness of Sport Canada’s SFAF from its inception to its end within four NSO’s. The effectiveness of the SFAF was evaluated within the four NSO’s funding component by examining its delivery at the national level, accountability and sport objectives that are now used in the Canadian Sport Policy.
Four major themes were developed out of the findings from the interviews and document analysis. These themes suggest preliminary implication for the way accountability is implemented and monitored in Canadian Sport.
Theme #1 Accountancy vs. Accountability
In accordance to the articles research accountancy vs. accountability was a major focal point due to its finding in the interviews. It was noted in the interviews that in some cases Sport Canada had increased funding into areas when their accountability standards were not met rather than following the consequences outlined by the SFAF. This manifestation as suggested by the researchers can lead to a cynical attitude about accountability as well as towards government influences and the SFAF process. This was prominent in all four of the NSO’s and the SFAF was referred to not having a meaningful impact on their NSO’s. In addition the inability of Sport Canada to achieve minimum standards in priority areas across all NSO’s and lack on areas of improvement from the 2001 assessment of the SFAF also showcase the problems with the SFAF’s accountability.
Theme #2 Collaboration vs. Competition
Through the interviews among NSO personnel it became evident that competition existed between NSO’s for government funding, that forced NSO’s to seek out alternative resources to operate. With scarce resources, personnel and the need to maximize funding relationships with Sport Canada, “the data collected from the interviews suggest a disconnection has been created between NSO’s rather than a sense of collaboration” (Havaris & Danylchuk, 2010, p. 47). With this information the researchers suggest that various levels of sport in Canada will result in a fragmented and inefficient sport system.
Theme #3 Athlete Centeredness
NSO’s were required to have a male and female representation in the governance structure. In the four NSO’s used in the study two NSO’s did not have both a male and female representation another NSO representative were not aware that they were supposed to be formal role within the organization. This theme represents yet another area were accountability emphasis was lacking in the SFAF. Athlete representation with the governance organization is an asset that should be recognized as they bring direct sport experience and a unique perspective to the decision-making process. Minimizing athlete representation involvement in the design and implementation of the sport system could make be crucial impact on the Canadian sport system.
Theme #4 Participation vs. High Performance
An over alarming theme that emerged from the researchers data was of the controversy over the vision of Canadian Sport. Different priorities were seen across the participants in the study, where athlete representatives believe the priority should be given to sport development while NSO leaders emphasize the area of human resources while NSO presidents see the value in both grassroots development and capacity. This controversy can be seen everywhere is Canadian society today, well the ones that are interested in sport. Everyone has their own opinion surrounding where tax payers money should be spent as such the “mandate of sport in Canada and the role that sport in Canada plays needs to be clarified” (Havaris & Danylchuk, 2010, p. 48)
So what does this all mean? What do these themes represent?
No, not in a research perspective way, more in, well what do these themes tell us about the SFAF system?
I have my own thoughts which are sometimes biased but the reality is that these themes represented the problems that were within the Sport Canada’s SFAF. During the period of 1995 – 2004 only one assessment was made on the SFAF, which outlined many of the problems that were discussed by participants in the interviews Havaris and Danylchuk conducted. It is frustrating to think that even after being assessed and having the problems with the SFAF known by Sport Canada and the NSO’s not much changed to reduce those problems.
So when the SFAF ended and the Canadian Sport Policy emerged did they learn from the SFAF past mistakes?
Did they learn that accountability is an important aspect within the system?
And although Havaris and Danylchuk’s article didn’t become published until 2010 were the issues and recommendations they suggested utilized in the Canadian Sport Policy?
I know it’s a lot to think about but the way our policy is written can drastically affect the way our system ran.
Hope you enjoyed.
Here are some links to get to know your Canadian Sport Policy: