“I’ve read this article and thread with some interest. Although not knowing the exact intricacies of the situation with leagues/activities operating outside of Basketball Ireland’s jurisdiction, I have to come to their defense a bit on this one,” writes Dr Ian O’Boyle.
It’s an interesting governance case so I’d like to add my two cents. The issue is about looking at the bigger picture for basketball in Ireland. Basketball Ireland is the NGB that is recognised by the Irish Sports Council and FIBA. If you want the benefits of being associated with those networks – which ultimately revolve around ‘professional’ administration of the sport domestically, grants from the sports council, and pathways to representative national teams (underage and senior) – then you have to sign up (through your registration fees) to this bigger picture.
Now obviously there seems to be a portion of the membership who feel that they are getting no return on their investment from these registration fees. This is the same in federated sporting networks all throughout the world – the tangible benefits you receive may indeed be minimal but really the NGB needs your buy-in for whole-of-sport progression. The parochial nature that is so strongly embedded within Irish culture obviously doesn’t facilitate this ‘all-for-one’ mentality but the reality is for the sport to make any meaningful development at different levels over the next decade, we need all stakeholders on the same page and part of the same network.
Of course the other major issue appears to be dissatisfaction with the manner in which Basketball Ireland try to achieve this buy-in and clearly the way in which they have apparently rather abruptly implemented this new by-law with a perceived lack of consultation and engagement with the membership and indeed those outside the membership operating these alternative leagues/activities – certainly not good governance practice. Effective communication, negotiation, and mutual adjustment are pretty much sport governance 101 principles.
Your solution comes through your voting rights as members at the AGM where new directors can be appointed. The membership of any federated network are the owners of the sport and therefore the NGB – you have a right/responsibility to vote in directors that you deem will improve the levels of communication, trust, and collaboration with various stakeholders and entities within that network. The board are obviously also responsible for appointing and managing the performance of the CEO. If you are successful in nominating high calibre directors (not implying the current board are not of a high calibre) with the necessary skill-sets who can effectively govern the sport and repair damaged relationships; there may even be an option to remove the National Council all together as the existence of that body arguably adds a layer of bureaucracy to the sport that need not exist.
The main point is however, a fragmented sport such as basketball in Ireland has very little chance of producing the results we all want to see in various aspects of the sport if we cannot get all stakeholders on the same page. That page has to be Basketball Ireland’s page – like it or not, because of its affiliation with the Irish Sports Council and FIBA. As the stakeholders of basketball in Ireland, you all have the opportunity to influence how Basketball Ireland conducts its business through nominating high calibre/experienced directors who you think can address the deficiencies perceived to exist within the NGB as it currently operates – so make sure you do it!
Dr Ian O’Boyle is currently working as a lecturer in sport management and consultant in sport governance at University of South Australia and playing for the Norwood Flames. O’Boyle played for the Irish Men’s National Team from 2007 until the team was withdrawn from international competition in 2010. He averaged 10.5ppg in the 2009 campaign, including 23 points against Luxembourg. O’Boyle is currently the starting shooting guard for the Flames, who compete in the Premier League in South Australia, which features some of the top players in the nation including Australian national team players who recently competed in the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Ian was second in the league in 3 pointers made during the 2014 season helping Norwood get to the Finals.