measuring-riskThe following provides a brief description of SportRisk’s ‘Best Practices Risk Assessment Tool’. (For more information on how the tool was developed, vetted and tested, check the tab on ‘Best Practices: Methodology’.)


Beginning in 2014, a group of senior Canadian and U.S. recreation professionals initiated a project to develop a series of risk management ‘Best Practices’ for the Campus Recreation field. The approach was unique in that it focused on documenting Recreation Best Practices as opposed to standards.

The motivation for the project arose out of an expressed need by recreation professionals to find out what risk management operational practices other campuses were implementing – and therefore be able to determine how their own practices measured up (i.e. benchmarking).

Best Practices: a Two-Level program

The Best Practices Risk Assessment program is organized into 2 distinct Levels:

Level 1

Best Practices risk assessment surveys were developed for Campus Recreation programs, facilities and general (see below); plus a demographics survey was developed to capture key information on each school, to allow for comparisons among schools based on many different criteria.

Programs: Sport Clubs; Intramurals; Youth Camps; Outdoor Program; Instruction.
Facilities: Weight Room; Fitness Center; Aquatics; Ice Arena; Fields; Climbing Wall; Facilities (general).
General: Risk Management Committee; Travel; Emergency Response; Waivers.
Demographics: school size, state/province; athletic conference; male/female % etc.

Program and Facility surveys are generally divided into 6 categories:

  • Staffing
  • Supervision & Instruction
  • Training
  • Facilities and Equipment
  • Documentation
  • Emergency Response Plan

Level 2

A Best Practice risk assessment survey was developed for general business operations (see below); plus comprehensive expertsourced resources were developed to address identified gaps in risk management policies, procedures & documentation.

       a) Business Operations survey focuses on the following areas:

Financial risks
IT Data risks
Human Resources risks
Facility Security risks
Reputation risks
Customer Service risks
Other risks

b) Resource Packages were developed by content experts and designed to assist staff in addressing gaps identified by the risk assessment surveys.

What are the Deliverables?

Level 1

Participating schools receive a Detailed Report (approx. 50 pages) which includes:

  • Action Recommendations based on importance of gaps and deficiencies discovered. The focus will be those Best Practices which have an overall weighting of 2 or 3.  Click here to see a one-page sample of the report.
    Sample Report
  • Benchmark Graphs showing how your school’s score in each survey area compares to other schools (over 100 schools to date).
    Click here to see a sample comparison graph.

samplegraph_01 copy

  • ScorePlus
    For each survey, this number tells you how much better or worse you are relative to the average, where the average is scored at 100.  See sample below:

Scoreplus sample

  • Further breakdown of each survey by category (i.e. staffing, supervision, training etc.). Shown in an easy-to-read graph (see below).

Category Graphs 2

  • Three (3) custom comparison graphs showing how your scores compare to schools (i) of your size (ii) within your state (iii) within your Athletic Conference (iv) by NIRSA Region (v) institutional type (e.g. public v. private).
    See example:
    Scores and Averages sample 1Scores and Averages sample 2
  • After 12 months, an updated benchmark comparison graph
    (i.e. (b) above).


Level 2

Participating schools receive a Detailed Report which includes:

  1. Action Recommendations based on importance of gaps and deficiencies discovered in the ‘Global Department’ survey.
  2. Benchmark Graph for all 7 Business Risk areas showing how each school’s total score compares to other schools.
  3. Expert-sourced resources to assist staff in addressing gaps identified by the Level 1 risk assessment surveys.
    Resources include: sample policies & procedures; sample emergency response plan; checklists; web links etc.
  4. 10 custom queries of your choice e.g. “what is the % of schools in your state/ conference which use software management packages (e.g. Fusion)?” or “what is the % of schools by country/ state/ Athletic Conference etc. where Campus Recreation reports through Student Affairs (or Athletics or Administration)?”
  5. Your choice of 5 SportRisk training videos.


It’s great to work with expertise who really understand the critical issues of managing our inherent risk in recreation and student programming. As a professional who is committed to providing safe programming, it’s essential to know your problem areas and how your program measures up nationally. I want to do everything possible to identify weaknesses and build concrete action plans – and this assessment tool does both!

Kathleen Hatch

Director, University Recreation
Washington State University

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