Rise of the Professional Sport Administrator

In the last two decades in Australia, due largely to increases in government funding for sport, there has been an increasing tendency for sport organisations to employ professional administrators, coaches and officials. Organisations that were once managed solely by a voluntary management committee are now adjusting to considerable change caused by increasing professionalism in the sport industry.

The main causes of the rise in professional sport administration are:

It is a significant moment when a sport organisation takes on its first paid staff, and the transition is not without risk. It is therefore very necessary to build a case built on a close examination of the risks and benefits. The key worry is what sort of effect will the engagement of paid staff have on volunteers. Questions that might be asked include:

Comparison between salaried and voluntary personnel

Although it is often a great desire of voluntary committee/board members to relieve their own burden of work, this is not a sufficient reason to employ salaried staff. The more appropriate reasons would include improvements in:

The following table shows some examples of the effect of the creation of a salaried position where only volunteers previously existed.

Salaried Personnel Voluntary Personnel
Enquiries from the public are dealt with promptly Enquiries from the public are dealt with at the officer's convenience
Recruitment campaigns through visits to schools, clubs and other community organisations are more possible. Recruitment campaigns need to rely more on advertising and publicity as volunteers have limited time during the week.
Organisation of programs and events is organised to a high level and on a continual basis Organisation of programs and events is dependent on the amount of time that voluntary officers are willing to give
Salaried officers are recruited from the general job market and are selected on the basis of ability Voluntary officers are often selected on the basis of who will come forward

Unforeseen disadvantages of paid staff

In addition to the considerable financial burden, there may also be unforeseen disadvantages when an organisation moves towards employing salaried personnel. Issues that commonly arise include:

Positions created for salaried staff, if any, are a major component of the organisation structure and operational plan. Salaried staff may be one of the main determinants of whether an organisation will succeed with the implementation of an operational plan. However, great care must be taken to build the case.


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