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"It's a multi-billion dollar industry and with big numbers comes big risk."

Sport is more than a game; it’s a business.

In Australia, sporting events attract some of the biggest crowds, highest ratings and most lucrative sponsorship deals. Internationally, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry.

But with the big numbers comes big risk - of corruption, foul play and political influence.

As the recent FIFA scandal shows, not all sport organisations have a Jerry Maguire ready to blow the whistle.

So what can be done? How can the industry be kept clean?

According to Dr Adam Karg, Senior Lecturer in Deakin University’s sport management program, it all begins in the classroom.

‘The study of sports management is very much grounded in making sure students have a really well-rounded idea of the social responsibilities of sport,’ he explains.

While sport may be a business, it also plays an important role in creating social cohesion and cross-cultural bonds – something, says Karg, all sport professionals need to understand.

Alumni Chapter launch

To help strengthen this understanding, Deakin University has launched the Sport Management Alumni Chapter.

‘It gives us an opportunity to bring together a network of people who are very influential in the industry,’ explains Karg.

‘Among other topics, we can talk about what good governance is, and what good sport management looks like for sport and for sporting organisations.’  

Presenting at the Chapter launch is 2015 AFC Asian Cup CEO Michael Brown, a man with over 25 years’ experience in sports management.

The Alumni has since hosted panel discussions with Mark McAllion, CEO of VicSport and Marne Fechner, CEO of the 2015 World Netball Championship.  

‘As a program, the Alumni Chapter allows us to bring these high-calibre, experienced people together, and integrate them into the Deakin network so their lessons can benefit our Alumni network, as well as our classrooms and research partnerships,’ explains Karg.

Australia not immune to sport scandals

With Australia facing its own sporting scandals, most recently the supplement controversies in major football codes, these lessons have never been more important.

For Karg, knowing how to balance competing needs and demands, ethically and profitably, is particularly crucial.

He explains, ‘It’s about understanding all the different stakeholders and the different responsibilities that exist and finding a group of people who understand those complexities and can manage an organisation in the right way.’                                                                                       

By growing an alumni network, complete with professional development workshops and industry presentations, Karg is confident more graduates will follow the ‘right way’.

As he explains, ‘If you have the right people in charge, the right leaders, the right managers, it has a really positive impact on all aspects of the sport.’

The next Sport Management Alumni Chapter event will be held on August 25.