The Right Honorable Stephen Owen
Minister of State (Sports)
House of Commons
Dear Minister Owen,
Your letter to the editor, National Post, August 21/04, and the reaction of many Canadians to our athletes’ performance in Athens 2004 has motivated my present letter addressed to you. My intent, however, is not to lament about the number of medals Canadian athletes have won in the last two Olympic Games, nor to complain about the inadequate funding from the Federal Government. On the contrary, the scope of the letter is to make a brief, though necessarily incomplete, analysis of what is eroding our sports programs.
As an internationally recognized training expert, with 14 published books, translated into 18 languages and used in over 180 countries of the world, I would like to also make myself available to offer suggestions to correct our problems.
One may argue that an increased annual budget for sports may be essential if we are to successfully participate internationally. However, my personal argument is that with the present budget of $130 million (Sport Canada, $120 million, and the Canadian Olympic Association, $10 million) we still can create a more functional, athletes-centered sports training system. After all, the essential element is not just how much, but how we spend what we have.
However, the present sport structure is far from being efficient, or fully functional! It is, in fact, in need of a complete and serious overhaul. These are some of the problems frustrating many athletes and training specialists in this country:
· Financial inefficiency: for every $ 1 spent per athlete Sport Canada spends $ 5 on sport’s bureaucratic structure. As compared to late 1980’s, when the Canadian
Olympic Committee (COC) had only one office in Montreal, with a small
Contingent in Ottawa, as of early 1990’s it has three (Montreal, Ottawa and
Toronto) with much larger bureaucracy! Is COC spending the same amount of
Money for the athletes it represents as it spends for its own officials?
Furthermore, in the late1990’s, another bureaucratic entity has been created:
National Sports Centre (NSC) with eight offices across Canada. At first glance,
NSC looks like a real place where athletes are trained. In reality, however, the
NSC it is just a new bureaucratic entity, servicing the very same athletes, but
spending some $8-10 million per year without clear, attributable impact on
Athletes’ performance improvement.
· Too bureaucratic: as compared to many countries we compete against in the world’s sporting arena, our sport programs is burdened by twice as many layers of sports bureaucracy (Sport Canada, Canadian Olympic Committee, National Sports Associations/Federations, provincial structures, National Sports Centre). In fact, this highly inflated sports’ bureaucracy is the reason, not the solution, to our lack of funds for our athletes and coaches.
· Duplication of responsibility: we have two main sporting organizations financially supporting our athletes: Sport Canada and COC. Yet, the athletes they support invariably are in peculiar financial conditions, far from being conducive to achieving high performance. However, the lack of funds for the needs of our sports administrators has never been the case.
· Lack of leadership. We have good experts in this country, many of them in the academic field. However, the key determining element of each sports’ programs are not created by the sports training specialists, but rather by sports administrators. Now it is the ideal time to use our qualified technical experts to create and lead the development of a new Canadian Sports System.
Minister Owen, we have the expertise to create a new, simplified, and financially-efficient Canadian Sports System. The present system doesn’t work! You are in the ideal position to fix it! However, to do so a strong political will is necessary. Along with other Canadian experts I would be more than honored to have the opportunity to further discuss with you the possibility of creating the Canadian Sports System.
Prof. Tudor O. Bompa, Ph.D.