AthletesCAN, the association of Canada’s national team athletes, has a proud history of representing the collective voice of Canadian athletes to ensure an athlete centered sport system. As such, the association is undertaking a system wide evaluation of athlete representation within the governance structures of our National Sport Organizations (NSO).

A board of directors is the governance centerpiece of a typical NSO’s decision-making power. The Athlete Representation project will strive to determine how the voice of athletes can be appropriately represented at the board level within these sport governing bodies.

This project, designed to optimize the influence of the athlete voice in NSO decision making, is especially motivated by the enactment of the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (“CNCA”), which endeavored to provide the not-for-profit sector with a modernized statutory framework. As a result of the CNCA, most NSOs were required to make significant amendments to their governance structure and bylaws, which changed long-established practices in the sport sector, and, as a result, the nature of the athlete voice within NSO decision making.

AthletesCAN, in collaboration with its Sport Solution Program Managers, has explored the implications of the enactment of the CNCA to gain a better understanding of the current landscape of athlete representation.  As part of the process, Sport Solution examined 49 sets of current NSO bylaws. The findings including 6 models and current considerations around the use of athlete representation, were presented at the 2017 AthletesCAN Forum’s inaugural joint NSO/Athlete session on September 21st in Ottawa, Ontario where more than 100 athlete reps and sport leaders came together to determine a way forward.

Key areas of consensus were identified in the interactive NSO/Athlete session and further research on international models of athlete representation has since been completed.  AthletesCAN will be releasing a position paper on the topic mid-2018.  A Working Group fueled by system stakeholders will endeavor to build governance best practice recommendations including specific solutions for including formal athlete representation within bylaws to be presented at the 2018 AthletesCAN Forum NSO/Athlete sessions.

AthletesCAN is currently consulting with NSOs in this area on a case by case basis.

For more information about the Athlete Representation project please email [email protected]