ATHLETE AGREEMENTS

In November 2015, AthletesCAN published The Future of Athlete Agreements in Canada, a sport system wide evaluation of how effective Athlete Agreements are at meeting the needs and obligations of high performance athletes and National Sport Organizations (NSOs). The paper was the first of three phases of our Athlete Agreement project.

After extensive analysis of more than 50 agreements and consultation with legal experts, four recommendations were established and presented. They include: separating commercial obligations from agreements, developing meaningful secondary obligations, facilitating negotiation, and annotating agreements with plain language as part of a risk management strategy.

The paper fostered a system-wide dialogue of the challenges that modern Athlete Agreements create for athletes and NSOs and as a result helped to spur the creation of a PHASE II working group comprised of sport leaders from across the system.

The focus of PHASE II was the creation of standardized and annotated performance and commercial agreement templates to remove barriers to implementation in a way that fosters the high performance relationship between the athletes and NSOs both on the field of play and beyond.

As a part of this process, the working group developed and implemented a set of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness, fairness and balance of today’s Athlete Agreements within the high performance sport environment. More than 50 agreements were then benchmarked against this criteria to identify areas for development and establish best practice. From there, a set of standardized clauses were created in a user friendly format which segmented obligations into areas of focus within the relationship. Finally, the templates were annotated in plain language to address the intent of the agreement in building a mutually beneficial relationship and to enhance the communication and understanding of the often intimidating content.

In September 2017, AthletesCAN hosted the inaugural NSO Stream as part of the AthletesCAN Forum. Leaders from more than 25 sports participated in a workshop which introduced the annotated agreement templates and enabled feedback around the implementation process to address next steps.

PHASE III will aim to develop best practices around the implementation of Athlete Agreements in the area of education and ongoing communication between parties. The findings of this phase will be presented at the upcoming 2018 AthletesCAN Forum - NSO Stream, September 21st in Ottawa.

The current Athlete Agreement template has been adopted to date by five NSOs and is currently being included in Sport Canada’s AAP policy. AthletesCAN is currently consulting on a case by case basis with NSOs and athletes to ensure a smooth transition in the adoption process. We expect 100% of Canada’s NSOs to adopt the AA template by 2020.

A special thanks to the ongoing contributions from the Athlete Agreement Working Group on this important project.

System Participants: Martha Deacon (COC/CGC), Jillian Drouin (Athlete – Athletics), Hilary Findlay (Brock University), Martin Goulet (Water Polo), Brian Hill (Athlete, Swimming), Patrick Jarvis (Snowboard Canada), Ian Moss (Gymnastics Canada), Jasmine Northcott (Water Ski & Wakeboard Canada), Ann Peel (Athletics Canada), Bob Price (Sport Canada), Russ Reimer (Manifesto Sport Management) and Bruce Robinson (Canadian Freestyle Ski Association)

AthletesCAN Participants: Dasha Peregoudova (President), Josh Vander Vies (Past President), Ashley LaBrie (Executive Director), Thomas Hall (Past Vice President), Layth Gafoor (Sport Solution Supervising Lawyer), and Rachel Islam & James Sifakis (Sport Solution Program Managers)

For more information please email Ashley LaBrie at [email protected].