The Australian Sports Commission defines a code of conduct as:

“a set of statements that set out what your club considers to be an acceptable standard of behaviour and conduct. These codes explain how your club expects its members and their guests to behave. Codes of conduct or behaviour provide a guide and basis of expectations for a club. They encourage commitment to ethical and professional behaviour and outline principles on which a club is based”.

In other words, codes of conduct go beyond the logistics of sports participation – such as uniforms, training times and membership dues, to set the standards of behaviour that inform team and club culture, and make it easier to deal with conduct and behaviour issues as they arise.

They are therefore an integral part of any organisation be it a local club or your University sports team on tour!

Codes of conduct set expectations for everyone involved – from the administrators, coaches and officials, to players, parents and spectators. They can obviously be many and varied – from on-field incidents, sideline abuse and mismanagement, to inappropriate social media posts, unfair treatment, poor sportsmanship and more.

Merely reading codes of conduct is not enough for understanding. The effective implementation of codes must be part of the learning process that requires training, consistent enforcement and re-enforcement, as well as continuous measurement and improvement.

Obviously this starts with induction but it is also important to note that consistency in application is vital, as is measurement and fine tuning over time.

This was emphasised by the New South Wales Office of Sport who stated that once created, codes of conduct should spread by:

  • having members sign a copy when they register;

  • displaying them around your venues;

  • making them part of the inductions, meetings and training;

  • putting them in newsletters, on your website and in club correspondence – and explain what they mean; and

  • training members in related behaviour-based issues like child protection, harassment, and discrimination.

Each University will have its own code of conduct as does Australian University Sport.

How about your club, though?

Sporting club codes of conduct will usually include the following:

  • An introduction (what it is and what it covers);

  • Who it applies to;

  • When it applies;

  • Why it is important;

  • An agreement on personal; drug and alcohol; medical; financial; insurance and behavioural obligations;

  • The process for establishing breaches (and the penalties therein); and

  • An acknowledgement and authorisation by the parties bound to it.

So how well does your club or University code of conduct address these issues?

Do you need a separate or special code for sporting tours?

If so, what information might such a code reference?

And can a code of conduct get in the way of having a good time – can it ever damage a team culture?

Maybe consider this final question in the light of what was discussed in the Unit on Personal Brand!

You should also look at the relationship between a code of conduct and the team agreement introduced in the Unit on Influencing Peers, as well as how to preference multiple, competing codes in the Unit on Governance.