The tra­di­tion­al gov­er­nance struc­ture un­der which most na­tion­al gov­ern­ing bod­ies and Olympic Com­mit­tees op­er­ate aren't stand­ing up to the de­mands of the con­tem­po­rary sport.

Sports or­gan­i­sa­tions are for the most part not-for-prof­it as op­posed to be­ing a for-prof­it busi­ness. A for-prof­it busi­ness is cre­at­ed to serve the in­ter­ests of its share­hold­ers.

As such they op­er­ate to max­imise share­hold­er re­turn on in­vest­ment and most strate­gic de­ci­sions are made with this in­tent fore­most in mind. Share­hold­ers own a for-prof­it busi­ness.

They may not play a ma­jor role in the run­ning of a com­pa­ny but are able to vote on cor­po­rate mat­ters such as who sits on the board of di­rec­tors and oth­er sig­nif­i­cant mat­ters.

A not-for-prof­it such as a na­tion­al sports or­gan­i­sa­tion (NSO) serves the in­ter­ests of stake­hold­ers who may have vary­ing ex­pec­ta­tions of what ben­e­fits they should re­ceive.

No one per­son or group own a not-for-prof­it or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­di­vid­u­als in a po­si­tion of pow­er or in­flu­ence with­in a sport are tem­po­rary stew­ards or cus­to­di­ans, there to pro­tect the best in­ter­est of the sport and pass the ba­ton on to the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers and de­ci­sion mak­ers. In a re­al sense the con­cept of mem­ber­ship, rather than own­er­ship is at the root of the sports gov­er­nance mod­el.

The mem­bers of an NSO are not the own­ers of the gov­ern­ing body in the same way as share­hold­ers own a for-prof­it com­pa­ny. In essence, all mem­bers play a crit­i­cal role in the de­vel­op­ment and de­liv­ery of sport which is a ma­jor dif­fer­ence to share­hold­ers.

All of the mon­ey earned or do­nat­ed to, a not-for-prof­it is rein­vest­ed to pur­sue the or­gan­i­sa­tion's pur­pose and the ob­jec­tives as ar­tic­u­lat­ed in the or­gan­i­sa­tion's con­sti­tu­tion.

The dif­fer­ences be­tween for-prof­it and not-for-prof­it are sig­nif­i­cant. Adopt­ing best prac­tice meth­ods from the cor­po­rate world may very well ig­nore the nu­ances of a sports or­gan­i­sa­tion. These nu­ances ought to be ac­knowl­edged when adopt­ing cor­po­rate gov­er­nance best prac­tice. It's im­por­tant for mem­bers to read their sport's con­sti­tu­tion.

Prob­lems arise when there is an over­lap be­tween man­age­ment is­sues and strate­gic gov­er­nance. It's not un­usu­al for an NSO's con­sti­tu­tion to al­low mem­bers to vote on mat­ters which should be un­der the con­trol of man­age­ment. This ham­pers the man­age­ment abil­i­ty to ef­fec­tive­ly ex­e­cute the or­gan­i­sa­tion's strat­e­gy.

Giv­en well-pub­li­cised con­tro­ver­sies, the im­por­tance of con­sti­tu­tion­al re­view and re­form is in many cas­es an ur­gent and on­go­ing pri­or­i­ty.