Conflict Resolution in a Sports Organisation

The issue of conflict within a sport and recreation organisation is very important as it can have a lasting impact and detrimentally influence the organisation's ability to deliver services.

Conflict occurs in a sport club because people have different values, needs and motivation. It should not be seen as a negative emotion, but rather an opportunity for change and new possibilities. Conflict is not a problem if it is handled in an appropriate manner. If conflict is not handled appropriately, it can lead to power struggles, faction fighting and loss of important volunteers. In such situations time and energy that could be spent on delivery of services is wasted quelling conflict.

It is important that people involved in managing a sport club have the skills to effectively deal with conflict. They should be able to identify conflict; propose strategies for dealing with it; and ensure that there are positive outcomes when it does occur.

The following topics will be covered in this section:

Where conflict occurs

There are three levels on which conflict may occur: the individual, the group, and the organisation.

Conflict between individuals may develop as a result of differences in background, expertise and experiences. When conflict arises between individuals involved in managing a sport organisation, it very often results in the loss of a key volunteer. Organisations are usually short of volunteers and cannot afford to lose any.

Conflict may also occur between groups within an organisation. One typical situation is when conflict arises between the management committee (or key personnel in the management committee) and groups within the membership of the organisation. Another typical situation is when conflict arises as a result of key changes within the organisation. In this case there may be groups in favour and groups not in favour.

Other reasons for inter-group conflict include:

Conflict can also occur between sporting organisations. For example, a club may have difference of opinion with a parent body (a regional, state or federal body). The parent body may seek to impose rules and regulations that are unpopular with the club, or the club and the parent body have differences of opinion over the best way forward for growth and development of the sport.

Key factors in solving conflict

The key factor in solving conflict is attitude. Parties in conflict can adopt a conciliatory or adversarial stance. They can accept that conflict is a normal and necessary part of managing an organisation or they can view conflict with annoyance and distrust.

It is sometimes necessary to obtain the services of an independent person who is skilled in conflict resolution to assist the parties to negotiate and reach agreement.

With or without an independent person to act as negotiator, conflict with only begin to subside when parties have the opportunity to meet and properly hear each other's argument. Then it is necessary for parties to find some common ground and work their way positively out of the conflict situation.




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