The Professionalism of Amateur Sport

The professionalism of amateur sport is a term that we are hearing more and more each day. There was a time when amateur sports had a certain naiveté about it. It was run by well-meaning volunteer parents who wanted to be involved with their children and held the belief that sports teaches character. That is why a recent CBC report about amateur sport organizations being defrauded of millions of dollars is really disturbing.

Families are paying huge after tax dollars for their child to play sports. Some of them doing it with great personal sacrifice for themselves and the family. Is it too much ask where their money has gone? In the meantime some Executive member immediately puts a label on them as trouble maker or a pain in the ass, which in some cases may be true, but nevertheless it is still their money. In the tightly knit world of whatever sport the child is involved in, word gets out and spreads like a Donald Trump tweet.

Parents are hesitant to come forward because they’re worried about how it might impact their child. This especially true if the athlete is not a top 6 forward or top 4 defense in the hockey world. It is a parental mindset that must be broken. Talent recruiters for hockey will find hockey players. That is their job and the majority are very good at it. Parents just need to trust them.

“In every article that I read, the parents are shocked. And I look at that and I’m like, well, why are you shocked?” said Erik Carrozza, a Philadelphia-area accountant who has documented dozens of similar stories across the United States. “Think about it for a minute. You have a person with all of these financial resources available to them with no governance, no oversight, and no accountability.” Case in point in 2018 The Ontario Minor Hockey Association was defrauded of $2.4 million dollars. How can an organization that handles money of that magnitude not have the proper checks and balances to ensure accountability? Did any parent, board member, or sponsor ask? Then when the rubber hits the road everyone is shocked and outraged. Then everyone reacts and starts pointing fingers. Well, people it is too late. The money is gone and your chances of getting it back are next to nothing. In the case of the OMHA insurance got them 80% back, but still $480,000 was still missing. Who suffers? The athlete and their family. Fee’s go up to cover the cost of insurance and the cost of proper financial accountability. To me this is a direct result of Hockey Canada not providing the proper tools for Association’s to use or at the very least providing a courses ( for free)  for Treasurers to take before accepting the position. After all are they not the governing body of hockey in Canada?

In the competitive scope, where parents pay up to $10,000 a year for their athlete to play, a team budget could be as high as $180,000 by 10 league teams that is $1.8 million that the association is responsible for. If a stakeholder asks a question, that association has a duty to provide a qualified and transparent answer to the stakeholder and not merely slough them off as a pain in the ass. To give an organization access to large sums of money without using  generally accepted accounting practices is lunacy and leaves the door wide open for a bad outcome.

When an organization experiences theft, the impact is deep and long lasting. When money is stolen by an employee or volunteer, it will take years to build the trust back. Trust takes a lifetime to build, but only a moment to lose. In a twisted way by asking for accountability you just might be saving someone from making a decision they will regret for a lifetime.

Until next!

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