GOVERNANCE, SPORT AND MARCUS AURELIUS

Sport is the epitome of courage. It has come from the virtues of aspiration, hope and challenging ourselves to be the best we can. The trouble is that money, greed and power corrupts. Sport has sadly suffered terribly. How can any faith be restored? Can governance be brought back into sport?



Sport and governance.


They have over the years become a synonymous and unlikely pair.


Whether it's the corruption that was endemic in the International Olympic Committee, match fixing in cricket and football or the recent issues being raised with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and conflicts of interest, governance is now increasingly intertwined with sport.

Even in the period depicted by ‘Chariots of Fire’, the extraordinary film produced by Hugh Hudson, brings with it elements of governance. Not corporate governance, of course, self-governance.


Here the characters of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, race for the gold in the 1924 Olympics. While one runs for his faith, the other participates to leave prejudice behind. Each is holding his own ethics out in front of their participation.


And then there is the fantastic 'Gladiator'.


Commodus: You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues. Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. As I read the list I knew I had none of them. But i have other virtues, father. Ambition, that can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness. Courage. Perhaps not on the battlefield but there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family, to you. But none of my virtues were on your list. Even then, it was as if you didn't want me for your son.


Marcus Aurelius: Oh Commodus, you go too far.


Commodus: I searched the faces of the gods for ways to please you, to make you proud. One kind word, one full hug while you pressed me to your chest and held me tight, would've been like the sun on my heart for a thousand years. What is in me that you hate so much?


Marcus Aurelius: Shh, Commodus.


Commodus: All I've ever wanted was to live up to you. Ceasar. Father.


Our values play a key role in our own governance. Just as they play a role in the governance of our organisations. If we are to improve the governance in our organisations, we have to first work on our own.


The Olympic motto is made up of three Latin words:


Citius - Altius - Fortius. These words mean Faster - Higher - Stronger.


If ever there was an ethic that started out as 'hope' and has ended up in a trough of 'greed' and 'self gratification', this is sadly it. The corruption that befell the IOC in the late 1990s with the allegations that IOC members had accepted bribes in the form of cash, gifts, entertainment, etc.. All in the means of advancing the successful bid of Salt Lake City as the site for the 2002 Winter Games.


This wasn't of course the beginning, nor was it the end.


In this second episode of GRC Unplugged, we will be asking questions such as:


1. How can you work towards mitigating these risks in sport?

2. Can governance play a role in this mitigation?

3. If so, what does that look like?

4. What can those operating in this area learn from other sectors, such as financial services?


Sport and governance are joined together, and this is not going to change any time soon.


Fancy joining us on Wednesday 29 July at 1pm BST?

Please feel free to register.


No charge, just our contribution, to you.


"...moving organisations towards better governance"

© 2020 by Perrin Carey