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Analysis Of Government Policy In Sports


Evidence from a number of nations that articulates discrete sports policies with concomitant support and funding for the community as well as elite sport development initiatives clearly indicates that sports have become significant as aspects in government policy intervention. As argued by Bergsgard et al. (2007), Australian government regards sport as an essential facet of socio-economic development by pointing at the kind of media attention given to sports which translates into cultural integration and social understanding. Therefore, sports can act as a vessel used to deliver non-objectives such as combating social exclusion, demonstrating political power, controlling childhood obesity as well as regeneration of urban regions.

The government has intervened in sporting activities through different policy interventions as evidenced in elite sports and pathways, stadia and events, sports participation and junior sports, sports broadcasting, harassment and discrimination as well as doping in sports. This paper focuses on the impact various public sports policies within the context of policy areas listed above.

Policy Issues in Sports Broadcasting

Stewart et al. (2004) note that most of the Australians like watching sporting events on Television and most of the top rating programs on Australian Television stations are sporting events. Some Australian organizations earn by selling sports media broadcasting rights to other broadcasting organizations. As a result, controversies arose between the public and private broadcasting companies over the airing of live sports, particularly cricket, during crucial sporting events. Additionally, there has been a substantial increase in paid-subscription media which has seen many companies invest in the sports broadcasting industry. Many sporting events are siphoned off to pay television preventing underprivileged citizens from accessing some events of national importance. To curb this menace, the government introduced the anti-siphoning scheme to control the television coverage by ensuring that events that are of cultural or national importance like sports are not exclusively siphoned to pay television. Over the years, the scheme has focused on the main sporting activities which have conventionally been on free-to-air television.

Under the anti-siphoning scheme, there is a list of sports events which in the view of the relevant minister, should be televised to the general public freely. It is known as the anti-siphoning list. Though it is updated periodically, it covers nearly all the major sporting events in the country including football, cricket, and rugby among others.

The anti-siphoning policy is a continuation of the National Broadcasting Services Act of 1992. Under this act, both non-sporting and sporting events of cultural and national importance were to be available on free-to-air television. However, currently, the anti-siphoning laws strictly recommend sporting events only on free-to-air television.

Three important regulations are notable under this policy. First, Free-To-Air (FTA) TV broadcasting corporations are not allowed to premiere sporting activities on the anti-siphoning list on their digital channels. Second, it is illegal for subscription television broadcasters to televise events on the anti-siphoning list unless otherwise. Third, events on the anti-siphoning list can be repeated or simulcast on an FTA television, but cannot be displayed on a first digital multi-channel.

Drug policy issues in sports

Currently, some evidence suggests that most individuals lose interest in some sports such as Athletics and football associating them with scandals of persistent doping. Nevertheless, the government in association with Sports Government Bodies (SGBs) has actively demonstrated commitment towards anti-doping to ensure continued commercial benefit from the audience sports support such as organizational legitimacy. The government has also based its argument on the rising number of sporting activities and choice suggesting that sports should be drug-free to enhance citizens’ participation in sports. The Australian Federal government has thus, considered a number of policy approaches to exterminate drugs from sports. Notable among other anti-doping policies is the Tough on Drugs in Sports (TODIS) policy.

The Australian Federal Government introduced the Tough on Drugs in Sports Policy in early 1999 due to influence from the Tour de France doping scandal which occurred in 1998. TODIS was based on a unique slogan “zero tolerance” which ensured that the approach to anti-doping in sport was strongly emphasized. The policy demanded all the national sporting organizations to adhere to the requirements of the Australian anti-doping policies to access government funding (Stewart et al., 2004). Aside from focusing on the drugs in sports, this policy also had provisions that regulated the careless use of drugs in the community. However, looking at its timing, it majorly aimed to discourage the usage of drugs in sporting activities that the government believed would tarnish the country’s reputation in the international and regional sporting events.

To strengthen the TODIS policy, the Commonwealth government aims to halt the usage of drugs in sports using three measures. The first measure is funding drug testing programs. The second measure is the education of athletes on the side-effects performance-enhancing drugs, and the third measure is imposing appropriate penalties on athletes breaching the TODIS policy by committing anti-doping offenses (Stewart et al., 2004).

Policy issues on sport betting

Corruption in sports is one of the rapidly growing forms of crime. Most companies view sports betting and matching as a convenient way of laundering money. The Australian sport betting market has significantly grown for the past few years and has been generating handsome revenue streams for off-shore and local operators. The growth is associated increased usage of mobile phones and the internet as the bet-placing channels. As a result, a number of sporting activities such football have been associated with betting and gambling which has presented risks to the integrity of most of the individuals.

Currently, illegal sports betting and match-fixing have continuously attracted media attention and government scrutiny in Australia due loss of integrity, an important element in sports betting. Leading government law enforcement agencies identify illegal sports betting as unethical conduct posing substantial threats to integrity in sports not only in Australia but also in the world’s platform. During sporting events and in match-fixing, possibilities exists that result might be influenced to make money from the wagers. Other individuals use inside information to place sure bets indicating that integrity in sports betting has been extensively compromised.

In response, the government has formulated a number of policies to control how a sports betting is conducted all over the country. Notable is the National Policy on Match-Fixing (NPMF) in Sports. This policy represents the commitment of the Commonwealth, state and the territorial government to work together in addressing the fraudulent and inappropriate match-fixing and sports betting activities. The pursuit of the policy is to safeguard the integrity of sport and impact of NPMF is evident in the same line of context. Aside from maximizing public confidence in the integrity of the sport, the government has also ensured a level playing field by detailing the strategic implementation approach to NPMF.

To effectively implement NPMF policy, the government recognized its position in the world’s sports list and the power of sports minister to deal with the match-fixing menace. This would call for adequate co-operation and goodwill between sports organization, governments, and the betting industry.

Policy issues on Sports Participation & Junior Sport

It is evident that there is a need to improve partnership relationship among the Australian states and territories to better leverage power and enhance access to sports pathways to achieve the goal of active participation in sports. Traditionally, the sporting structures focused providing performance success at the global levels. However, due to challenges confronting individual citizens for involvement in sports, the junior sports dwindled leading to a shortage of participants in the national sports. Further, the government realized that most citizens’ suffer from health complications such as obesity due to lack of sufficient physical activity. Some of the factors leading poor sports participation outcomes include cost, lack of physical literacy, socio-cultural considerations among others. The government has, therefore, taken policy-based initiatives to enhance sports participation as well as to improve the national image of junior sports.

The government through the Council of Sports and Recreation has formulated Sport and Active Recreation Policy to enhance active participation of individuals in sporting activities. The policy seeks to strengthen Australia’s sporting system through alignment of Australia’s sports institutes and academies to the world class sporting institutes and centers. Also, it aims to maximize participation in active recreational and physical activities to promote mental and physical health among the citizens. Further, through the Active Reaction Policy, the Australian governments have shown support to competitive and clean sports sector that is based integrity, excellence, and leadership.

For effective implementation and positive feedback of the policy, Australian government funds initiatives improving the community participation in sports and recreation activities as well as those which aims to support water and snow safety. This involves assisting with particular sport and recreation infrastructure developments such as upgrading the stadia and other community level sporting facilities like playing surfaces, change rooms, and adequate lighting to extend usage.

Harassment and Discrimination

Harassment and discrimination in Australian sports range from racism and prejudices as it traverses the factor of gender to bullying in Gymnastics. Booth and Tatz (2000) argue that sports by nature are discriminatory and unfair. This argument sounds true in most of the sports games such as Olympics where no athlete can be guaranteed a fair playground without interplay.

In the year 2000, Australian sports were characterized by sexual harassment of young participants by coaches and other sports officials. In response to this concern, the government developed guidelines to address harassment, homophobia and sexual discrimination within the Anti-Harassment policy and Anti-Discrimination policy frameworks. Summed up together policies are referred to as the Member Protection Policy. The policies were written on the Harassment-Free sports and Discrimination-Free-sports strategies. Fundamentally, the policies focused on how the sport organizing bodies could best address the grievances of participants to ensure fair treatment and freedom expression (Stewart et al., 2004).

The scope of these two policy frameworks was not only limited to racial discrimination and sexual harassment in sports; they also envisaged the whole aspect fair-play. Under fair-play, both men and women are assumed to be equal, and none should have an upper hand in decisions relating to sports participation. It applies to all participants on the sporting platform including the coaches, training centers, instructors among others.

The practice of the policy is guided by accepted codes of conduct, to which all the covered entities are required to conform. Going against the accepted ethical codes amounts to a breach of the policy which attracts a penalty. For a coach or a training center, the certificate of legal practice may be confiscated leading lose of position and credibility of employment in sports firm. For an individual participant, it may mean disassociation with any national sporting activity. Therefore, implementation of the Membership Protection Policy solely depended on the practice of natural justice and total extermination of discrimination and harassment in sports.

Stadia and events policy issues

Hosting sporting events is extremely expensive. This follows the expenses involved in booking and assortment of playing grounds. A number of stadia are owned by private companies and investors for management reasons. However, running these stadia to effectively support sporting events has been a challenge to most organizations due financial constraints.

Based on the significance of provision of appropriate sports facilities and the national importance of sports events, the government has taken the initiative of funding public stadia and major sports events. This has been achieved through the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development of the government. As a result, flopping of the privately owned sporting facilities such as tennis courts and other indoor games playgrounds has been significantly controlled through the funding public strategy.

The neo-liberal era dating back to 1980s was characterized by increased state funding major sporting events and stadia development projects. Over the years, there has veritable boom in public sector funding of the construction of new stadia and expansion of outdoor stadia in Australia. The resulting developments have been significant elements of physical restructuring new sporting precincts including the Olympic Park in Sidney, although many critics have objected the government spending on such project, terming it wastage of the tax payer’s money.

Elite sports policy and pathways

Following the disappointment at the Montreal Olympics in 1976, the Australian government has substantially supported the development of elite sport such as Sprint Canoe through pathway enhancement and policy development. Since 1992, elite sports remained the point of focus of most government intervention programs owing to the international pressure to retain its World Championship title.

The achievements in the country’s Elite Sports industry is epitomized by the development of a workable Sports System, which has tremendously assisted the talented and self-motivated individuals to achieve their potential levels of performance in sports. With regard to the exhortation by De Bosscher et al. (2010), the success of elite sports in Australia is solely attributed to government policies, strategies, and politics. Underpinning the study by Stewart et al. (2004) is the 2001-2005 elite sports development federal government policy that has successively been the driving force behind the development of elite sports such canoe sprint racing.

The policy focused on elite facility development, provision adequate training elite sports participants and ensuring access to necessary facilities. Critically, while the significance of access to specialized practicing facilities highly acknowledged as a result of this policy, the provision has never been satisfactory. For instance, elite swimmers always complain about the regulated access to swimming pools since most of the pools are privately owned. Therefore, attempts to develop a public strategy for the location of swimming pools remain a significant issue in Australia.


Therefore, the federal government’s involvement in sports has been critical Australia’s sports in various dimensions. The analysis focused on a comparative analysis of different sports policies and issues surrounding each of them. Seven policy areas were analyzed based on Australians government’s efforts towards perfecting sporting activities. Most government policies are aimed encouraging sports either by castigating certain some behaviors while stimulating others or by retaining and reinforcing good qualities that are already in existence. Like most states around the world, it can be concluded that Australian government is determined to uphold fair play and trash discrimination and doping at all levels of sports. The government supports other world nation in exterminating the usage of drugs in sports.

From a local audience’s point of view, analogy that exists among these public sports policies can draw attention to the significance that each holds in sports. However, it can be concluded that anti-doping policies and those which are aimed encouraging participation in sports holds much importance compared to other policies. Policies on discrimination and sexual harassment, disability sports, media broadcasting, sports betting and elite sports merely supplement the other two (anti-doping policies and sports participation). Some individuals fail to participate in sports or rather attend sporting activities because they associate those sports with drugs. Doping not only provides unfair grounds for competition, but it also compromises the transparency, integrity and tranquility standards required in sports

As a point of concern, the Australia’s sports media broadcasting is still under threat of external forces and hackers with strong siphoning schemes leaks a lot of sports information outside the country. Meaning the government has not done enough regarding policy formulation and protection of Australian future in sports.

Australian Sports has currently become a complicated enterprise made up of both non-profit and voluntary organizations, large-scale sports stadia, mega-sports events, and elite athlete training centers. All these organizations are characterized by sporting culture balancing the history and tradition of sports based on commercial imperatives. Consequently, Australia’s public sports policy has dealt with a disparate number of competing values and customs. While there have been incremental changes in economic and commercial courses of government actions, the policies have also promoted the sporting culture particularly in the issues of equity, gender, sports participation and race.

From the analysis, a lot of changes are observable. The public sports policies constitute a combination of transformative change and incremental change. For instance, the formation anti-doping agency policy in 1990 was an epitome of a transformative policy change while the current teaching programs offered to parent aimed at fostering fair play in sports are indicative of incremental policy change. The rational-ideological continuum of these changes enables an individual to appraise the significance sports policy analysis and the role of government in shaping the future of Australian sports.


Augestad, P., Bergsgard, N. A., & Hansen, A. (2006). The institutionalization of an elite sports organization in Norway: The case of ‘‘Olympiatoppen’’. Sociology of Sports Journal, 23, 293–313.

Booth, D., & Tatz, C. (2000). One-eyed: A view of Australian sport.

Green, M., & Houlihan, B. (2005). Elite sports expansion: Policy learning and political priorities.

Stewart, B., Nicholson, M., Smith, A., & Westerbeek, H. (2004). Australian sport: Better by design? The evolution of Australian sports policy NY: Routledge