Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

8 reasons why the appointment of CEOs to Indian sports federations is great news

Published on
February 23, 2014

Originally published on 14 Apr, 2013 on Sportskeeda

Here is some good news for Indian sports. The Director-General of the Sports Authority of India, Jiji Thomson, wants to appoint Chief Executive Officers to all 54 national sports federations, and the salary of these professionals will be paid by the government. SAI is one body in India that has ample room for growth. It already has an enormous infrastructure, but it’s not utilized to its full extent in many places. The other sports federations could also use a shot of adrenaline to speed them ahead. And with the appointment of CEOs, there is great potential for growth and development.

Here are 8 reasons why the appointment of CEOs at the sports federations in India is great news for sports in the country:

1. Rewards risks:

The private sector rewards employees for progress. But in the public sector, mistakes are punished and achievements are glossed over. Public sector employees have no reason to take risks, if it works they don’t get any reward and if it bombs they end up getting the sack. That’s not a conducive environment for development.

Having a post like a CEO, although it doesn’t really duck the entire public sector nature of the federations, it introduces an industry veteran and creates its own rules to run the federation, which rewards risks when they pay off.

2. Uncertainty of tenure:

A lot of government posts in sports federations are soft, cushioned jobs. There are no milestones to accomplish on which your job hinges. Bringing in a CEO to the mix adds accountability to your authority. It’s either perform or perish.

3. Paid post:

Many sports federations have honorary posts. Those don’t pay as well as a full-time job. The CEO being appointed in the sports federations will be paid in full, giving him/her more incentive to put in the work. As opposed to a position where one puts in the work while knowing that they need to concentrate on their day job as well to run their households.

4. Full-time gig:

Honorary posts are often not full-time posts. It is hard enough to make things move in the bureaucracy, having to do so while not working at it full-time makes it that much more difficult. A CEO would be fully committed to the job and will have more time to make a difference.

5. Incentives:

Besides the obvious incentives laid in front of the CEO in the job itself, a CEO has incentives which go beyond the current job. They are forever looking to move up the ladder. Making a name by turning around the fortunes of a fledgling sports body is something which shines very bright on a resume.

6. Recruited for specialized knowledge from candidates:

A CEO selected to a sports federation will be chosen from a rich pool of talent. Since they are going to be paid well, the selectors will want to get the best they can for the money. Government jobs typically don’t have a private sector level of cut-throat competition when it comes to screening for jobs. That changes when you bring in a CEO from the industry.

7. Connections in industry:

You don’t get to become a CEO before making a name for yourself in the industry. You don’t make a name for yourself without making connections in the industry. Connections which can come to be useful once you are at the helm of a sports federation.

Jiji Thomson, the new Director General of SAI has said, “Our sports training centre at Hisar has already attracted the likes of OP Jindal. Not just the Jindal’s, a muti-sports complex in Maharashtra will be developed by well-known property developers and another one in Kerala by a jewellery house.” 

The dominoes are falling already. Once a few corporates bite the bullet and take a jump in the untested waters, others will follow suit. And it all starts with the initial plunge, which can be driven through personal connections.

8. Open doors for other sports:

Cricket has saturated the Indian market. The entry barrier for a potential sponsor in cricket is sky high. That opens up the market for other sports.

“Cricket might be swallowing a big chunk of money pouring into sports. But India being a huge country, there are still many big firms who are keen to participate in developing infrastructure in other discipline,”Thomson added. These potential sponsors will be eager to do business with a CEO who is working in a federation.

Time will tell if this move pans out or if the CEOs end up being shackled by the public sector nature of the organizations they join. Things do seem to be pointing upward and in the right direction, for now.

Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

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