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Sports Commission’s Kieren Perkins advises that ‘federated model for sport guarantees obstruction and oblivion’

Sports Commission’s Kieren Perkins advises that ‘federated model for sport guarantees obstruction and oblivion’
March 19, 2024

Speaking today at the SportNXT conference in Melbourne, Australian Sports Commission Chief Executive Kieren Perkins has, along with a group of influential panellists, discussed the major issues for sport for the year ahead, with Perkins advising of the challenge of understanding and recognising that we rely on athletic talents to create moments.

With Raelene Castle, Group Chief Executive at Sport New Zealand, noting that “sport is in a disrupted space”, Perkins commented “we have teenagers turning away from being participants (and) we need to understand how we can continue to engage them not just as fans but as participants.”

Considering finance Perkins went on to advise that “eight years out from a home Olympics, sport should not fear cuts in funding (but) there is an enormous amount of money out there and sport needs to focus on how to grow.”

Castle agreed, stating “sports that look at an event every four years need to broaden their focus.”

In terms of governance, Perkins was highly critical of current governance models that relies on national and state sporting organisations, with Perkins noting “leadership choices are key for sport” and that “the federated model for sport guarantees obstruction and oblivion”.

When Perkins also spoke about the sport industry workforce, he advised of the need to “improve the operational maturity of sport” also noting the importance of volunteers when he said “there are over 1 billion people working and operating sport on a daily basis”.

Also speaking in The State of Sport panel, moderated by sport broadcaster Tracy Holmes, were Golf Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland and NBA Chief Technology Officer Krishna Bhagavathula

Asked about artificial intelligence, Bhagavathula advised “technology is an enabler of change (and) we have to embrace technology”, adding we are aware that “99% of NBA fans are never going to experience a game in the arena.

“This is where the opportunity for technology lies. We can make the sport available to fans for their convenience.”

Sutherland addressed the rise of the Middle East in golf, noting it as a “major disruption”.

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Holmes addressed the panel and ask for their opinions on whether sport should be a leader, and how to manage risks with sponsors, venues and stakeholders, when and if athletes may want to take a position on world issues.

In response, Sutherland stated “it’s important to encourage athletes to speak for themselves” while Perkins noted “stopping athletes from having a view is not something that I support.

“In the industry, we need to get better at acknowledging and understanding the unique reach that athletes have and hold in the market. Someone such as Sam Kerr’s ability to engage and influence the market far outweighs what anybody else can do including politicians.”

Earlier, Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events, Minister for Environment, Minister for Outdoor Recreation Steve Dimopoulos had claimed Dimopolous “Victoria is the sport business capital”.

Images: The State of Sport panel at SportNXT today (top) and SportNXT Master of Ceremonies Hamish McLachlan (below). Credit: SportNXT.

About the author

Nigel Benton

Co-founder/Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-founder and Publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry. Having established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, he has managed its readership rising to over 11,500 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues.

In 2020, he launched the new Asian Leisure Business website.

Among a range of published works and features, his comments on a Blog (blogspot) from 2007 to 2011, when this website went live in its current form, may be interesting to reflect back on.

Click here to connect with him via LinkedIn.

Read more from this author

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