Highlighting the recently legislated complexity of the governance model for incorporated community sport organisations, the paper states that, “we find ourselves with political systems based on 18th-century philosophy, run with 19th-century administrations, built on 20th-century technologies, attempting to confront 21st-century challenges.” 

In defining the cause of contemporary governance issues for community sport to be that of a “political system”, the paper perhaps conflates (and unnecessarily politicises) issues relating to community ownership and governance of New Zealand sport.

(The “political system” is not the cause of complexity for incorporated sport entities)

Rather than confronting the specific issues of overbearing corporate governance obligations on volunteer-led community organisations (which are often asset-rich, yet cash-poor), the paper seems to discount the important (and clearly bourgeois) notion of local clubs retaining direct ownership of their assets, independent control of their activities and preservation of their sovereign identities.

For example, the paper suggests that, “local volunteer managed clubs … merge or amalgamate or ... change the structure in order to remove what will otherwise be a significant burden on them under the new Act.” While some clubs may be forced into doing so, this ex-post capitulation is a poor excuse for a lack of representation by sport’s leadership bodies at the time that the incorporated societies legislation was progressing through the reform process.

(The legislative solution must be to ensure volunteer chairs are filled, not emptied)

The Association stresses that the essential status of community sport entity incorporation is not the issue; rather, it is the specific obligations under the new Act now placed on incorporated community sport entities to maintain this legal status that is of overriding concern.

In our recent meetings with Ministers and officials, we have emphasised the need for further regulatory consideration and support for incorporated community sport clubs. (In passing, we note that in 2020, the Association was informed that incorporated community sport clubs did not form part of the strategy for sport delivery by New Zealand’s crown agency for sport).

In the Beatles' 1968 hit single "Revolution", John Lennon wrote, “you say you got a real solution. Well, you know. We'd all love to see the plan”. Unlike the social activists of 50 years earlier, the Beatles' idea of revolution was not to imperil or up-end existing social structures while promoting social change. In a similar way, legislative reform should aim to avoid unintended consequences, rather than force a radical response to them once they become apparent.

While the paper notes that “several experienced sector practitioners were interviewed for background and perspective”, the Association was not approached for input or comment.