PtG Article 21.02.2011

Time for a change: Athletes and Coaches demand more influence

A recent review by the ACES (Association of Chief Executives in Sport) shows that the number of people serving on the governing boards of directors, for their International Federation, who are coaches or athletes, is exactly zero.

John Leonard, Executive Director of the American Swimming Coaches Association, is startled by the ACES findings and makes a problem of it. In an open letter, published on, Leonard advocates for more stakeholder influence, especially for coaches and athletes.

He points out, that two of the most winning Olympic sports teams, respectively the USA Swimming and the Australian Swimming, both have “athletes and coaches imbedded permanently in the highest levels of decision making in their organization”.

Leonard continues, and questions why no coaches or athletes are found in the top of some international sports federations, with the following reasoning: “It works for the two most successful Olympic organizations on the planet, but wouldn’t work for International Federations?”

Leonard sums up, and wants complete attendance in the governing boards, and not just “the eyewash of “athletes commissions” that the IOC and some others that they put in place to blunt valid criticism, and then roundly ignore”.

The sports represented in the survey are: Badminton, Biathlon, Bowling, Equestrian, Fencing, Field Hockey, Hockey, Lacrosse, Luge, Masters Swimming, Rugby, Sailing, Shooting, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Synchro Swimming, Table Tennis, Volleyball, Water Polo, Water Ski, Wrestling and none of them had any coaches or athletes in governing bodies.