Policies are clear, simple statements of how your organisation intends to conduct its services, actions or business. They provide a set of guiding principles to help with decision making.

Within consenting groups, they are intended to have a legal effect, in that there may be sanctions for non-conformance; however, you can usually opt out by withdrawing from membership of the group.

That said, though, many organisations now look to contractually bind individuals and organisations to their policies, thus giving rise to legal consequences in some circumstances.

In the context of University sport, many of the policies that you must adhere to are set by a number of different enabling organisations. By an enabling organisation, we mean a body or group that you interact with in order to go about your sporting activity.

Enabling organisations include:

  • Parent organisations (for example, Australian University Sport has a range of policies that guide individual member university actions);
  • Peak Bodies (for example, Australian University Sport has to conform to the International Federation for University Sport policy as a member);
  • Affiliated Bodies (in running a competition AUS will have to conform to rules and regulations or sporting bodies such as Netball, Athletics Australia); and
  • Facility owners (when hiring a ground or an arena for the Australian University Games there will be constraints contained within contracts that will stipulate what can and what cannot be included or done)

Policies can be used to guide the actions of such people in areas as diverse as marketing and promotion via a sponsorship policy; financial management with policies around return of goods, and in the day to day management such as enrolling a member in a fitness program.

They can also reach out onto the field with policies on control of infectious disease like blood bin for example, policies on doping right through to a specific policy on how substitutions can be made during a game of hockey.

Wrapping around this is the broader constraint of community expectation.

What community are we talking about here? Our club? Our University? The local region? Australia? In truth, it is all of these!

Take University Sport example:

The Australian University Games has a history of being used by participants as an opportunity to get together and PARTY! Binge drinking and high risk behaviour were normalised and even encouraged.

Yet in recent years, society as a whole has begun to recognise the dangers in this behaviour, and taken a very different stance towards it.

Binge drinking and sexual misconduct that was previously tolerated is now no longer acceptable, and the policies of many institutions have reflected this in catching up with the expectations of the community.

Peak bodies, such as the Australian Olympic Committee and major football codes in this country, have used their funding clout to come down hard on transgressors in this regard.

Can you think of any examples of this?

What are the actions that were taken?

What were the consequences?

More importantly, how do you feel about these constraints being placed on you?

Are they really constraints at all?

This is something that we will look at in the next presentation.