One particular aspect of governance and indeed ethical decision making that tends to be brought up regularly, and usually in a poor light, is conflict of interest.

A conflict of interest occurs when a decision maker’s self-interest could be seen to (or actually does) interfere – or conflict – with their responsibility to their organisation.

There are numerous examples within sport of conflicts of interest and you may have witnessed some yourself!

For example think of a coach being named as a member of a National team selection committee, with a strong possibility that her top athlete is in line for selection on that team.

If her athlete is successful in making the team, it could be argued that this was because of favouritism or bias on the part of the coach.

In this instance, you would expect the coach to declare the conflict, and not attend meetings (or parts of meetings) where this athlete’s selection will be discussed.

It is especially important that in settings where the line between governance and management is blurred – as it is in amateur sport organisations – that conflict of interest be addressed immediately and publicly.

The reputational damage of perceived corruption can seriously jeopardise the viability of a sporting club!

Take then an organisation you are familiar with and think about situations that could conceivably be seen as conflicts of interest.

It may have even be a situation that you personally were involved in.

How could you have ensured the conflicts of interest did not arise?

What can and should the policy response to these situations be?