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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Australian Sports Commission offers $2m carrot for Athletics to merge

Australian Sports Commission offers $2m carrot for Athletics to merge

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Australian Sports Commission offers $2m carrot for athletics to merge

by:Nicole Jeffery
From:The Australian
May 03, 2013

THE Australian Sports Commission is dangling a $2 million carrot in front of athletics to encourage a long-desired merger between Athletics Australia and Little Athletics Australia, the two leading bodies for the sport.

The division of the sport between AA (which runs the elite end) and LAA (which has 100,000 junior athletes on its books) has long been regarded as a handicap to development of the sport, but the two have struggled to find common ground.

However, with the ASC's support, they announced yesterday that they had started a review into a potential merger.

They will form a working party to evaluate the benefits and costs of unifying the sport.

The two bodies have moved closer in recent years, establishing a joint venture in 2011 to work on initiatives that were of benefit to both.

ASC chairman John Wylie has pledged a one-off investment of $2m "in recognition of the integration costs".

The ASC is very much in favour of a merger because it would bring the sport into line with its preferred governance structure for national sports, increasing the efficiency of its administration and creating a clear pathway from grassroots to the elite ranks.

Wylie said the merger talks were "an important development in Australian sport" while Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said a partnership was "long overdue".

A merger would also elicit more ongoing government funding for the sport.


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It's certainly easy to understand LAA's reluctance, given their long standing success, particularly in comparison to AA's track record of incompetence, financial mismanagement and an inability or lack of interest in caring and supporting those they consider not at the pinacle of the sport.

If you're Sally Pearson or Steve Hooker then you're fine; if you're trying to break into B qualifier territory, then AA has demonstrated in the past that they don't really want to know you - an attitude that many at LAA probably struggle to reconcile.

That's not to suggest that there aren't many hard working individuals at AA, but ultimately, the institutional culture flows from the top down.

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