Newsletter Articles

Risk Management in Running Race Events

July 17, 2011

Katie Helms
Assistant Director, Intramural/Recreational Sports
University of Arkansas

Road and trail racing events have surged in number and participation in the last few decades, and their popularity is certainly understandable. Running and walking are easily accessible forms of exercise, and race events provide structured opportunities to test performance goals, interact with other enthusiasts, and celebrate physical accomplishment. Races are great components of campus recreation programs, either as stand-alone events or in coordination with other program efforts such as homecomings or campus health initiatives.

Despite the appropriateness of road racing within campus recreation programs, many program managers find the task of administering a race event to be daunting. Dramatic incidents and deaths in several high-profile race events have understandably contributed to misgivings regarding the safety of such events as well as reluctance in undertaking their administration. While race administration entails some specific risk management considerations, race directors can ensure that their race is as safe and well-managed as possible by utilizing some basic risk management principles.

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Risk Management Issues facing Campus Recreation Directors

July 17, 2011

How risks have changed in the past 10 years

Kathleen Hatch
Executive Director of University Recreation & Wellbeing, WSU
Mick Deluca
Director, Department of Cultural and Recreational Affairs , UCLA

Kathleen Hatch (Washington State University) and Mick DeLuca (UCLA) are two well know and respected Campus Recreation Directors within the NIRSA family. They graciously agreed to be ‘interviewed’ by Ian McGregor to share their insights on the topic of Risk Management – from a department-wide perspective. To provide a framework for the interview, the following list of questions were circulated prior to the session.

  1. From a Risk Management perspective, what are the key risk areas impacting Campus Recreation Directors today? How does this differ from 10 years ago? How would you priority rank a list of these major issues?
  2. Explain in detail what some of these specific risks look like; how these risks impact your department and the steps you’ve taken to mitigate the risks.
  3. How is Risk Management coordinated within your department? Describe the role of the Risk Manager and the Risk Management Committee in your department.
  4. The importance of creating a risk ‘culture’ within the department.
  5. Can Campus Recreation become a risk management leader within the university setting?
  6. What advice would you provide to Directors who are struggling with these new risks?

The ensuing discussion quickly turned into a free-flowing exchange of ideas and experiences. The insights shared, together with the pragmatic and common sense advice given, should provide Directors with a realistic roadmap to follow as they try to navigate their way through the new wave of risk issues.

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Tips from the Trenches: Writing a Comprehensive Risk Management Manual

July 17, 2011

Kathy Rose
Facilities Director
Campus Recreation
University of Kentucky

When our Director decided that the University of Kentucky Campus Recreation Department would participate in the 2008 Risk Management Survey of SEC Schools , I was confident, almost to the point of smugness, that we’d score well. I knew that our Fitness, Aquatics, Intramural, and Outdoor Pursuits Directors all had solid risk management policies in place, and as the Facilities Director, I felt that risk management was one of my strongest areas. Needless to say, pride cometh before a fall, and the results of the survey ranked our department’s risk management plan as one of the lowest scoring among all the participating schools. So immediately following our initial shock, which was accompanied by the usual sulking and gnashing of teeth, we went to work to fix the problems.

One of our biggest deficiencies was the lack of a centralized plan that would drive our risk management policies and procedures within each area. Our initial step towards solving this problem was to form a Risk Management Committee that would oversee the Campus Recreation Department as a whole. The committee’s first daunting task was to write a risk management manual that would be general enough to be relevant to every area within our department, but that would also include specific policies and procedures needed for specialized programs. We assessed our current risk management practices and found that a few new policies needed to be incorporated into each area. But mostly we found ourselves working backwards, taking solid procedures from each area and using them to formulate a general policy. It was like having all the boards, bolts, screws, and knobs for your new TV/DVD entertainment center spread out on your living room floor, and then having to create your own instruction manual in order to put the pieces together.

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The Last Line of Defense: The Experience of Club Officers and Implications for Risk Management Practices

July 16, 2011

Benjamin B. Stubbs
Assistant Director, Programs
University of Tennessee

It is a beautiful evening on the river. The water is smooth under the rowing shell, the air is crisp, and the white clouds in the sky are starting to turn pink and orange. But Wallace isn’t admiring the sunset. Instead, he cranes his neck to see into the coach’s boat, trying to count the number of personal floatation devices. The other club members listen to the coxswain, focus on their form, and maybe think about how fun it is to row at night. Wallace, a junior in engineering and the Crew Club president, is thinking about safety.

When it comes to the risk associated with sport club activity, student officers are the last line of defense. Recreation managers devise policies that limit the risks inherent in club activity. And yet, club practices, travel, and social activities are often beyond the scrutiny of sport club administrators. Many risk management decisions and responsibilities are left to the student leaders. However, risk management is only one of the many responsibilities of sport club officers. Officers organize practices and events, communicate with members, staff, and other teams, complete paperwork, manage inventories, and more. Each of these responsibilities is influenced by their specific roles as club leaders, and by their attitudes about their club.

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Virginia Tech’s Sport Club Participant Code of Conduct Agreement

July 16, 2011

Alan Glick
Assistant Director of Recreational Sports
Virginia Tech

Although there are approximately 70 sport-related sport clubs at Virginia Tech, only 29 of these clubs are members of the Department of Recreational Sports’ “Extramural Sports Club Federation”, and are legally considered to be a part or extension of our department, and are provided a range of benefits, including legal protections by the university. The other sport clubs on campus are “Registered Student Organizations” through the Department of Student Activities, and receive annual funding and advice through that office.

For many reasons, it is important that our 29 sport clubs understand the nature of the relationship between themselves and the Department of Recreational Sports and with the university as a whole. Because these clubs are legally a part of a university department, they are allowed to use all of the official university athletic symbols and logos which are also used by the university’s varsity athletic programs. One of the requirements we place on our sport clubs is that they actively compete on an intercollegiate level. All 29 of our sport clubs host games, round-robins and tournaments, and all of them routinely travel up and down the East Coast, into the Mid-West, and compete in national and championship tournaments throughout the country. It is extremely important that our clubs understand the responsibilities that come with the opportunities they have to travel and compete and to represent Virginia Tech in athletic competition.

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Sport Clubs Travel — Keep it Simple

July 16, 2011

Greg Henderson
Assistant Director, Sport Clubs and Aquatics
The College of William and Mary

When I first started working with the William & Mary Sport Club program in August of 2000, there were policies in place for registering events and travel. There was at that time, however, no real incentive for clubs to fill out the paperwork and follow the policies. After meeting with each club and learning that several of them had not registered their events, it became clear that we didn’t always know who was competing – let alone traveling – on any given weekend. With this in mind, the Director of Rec Sports and I started to re-vamp our travel system with two distinct goals in mind: 1) revise existing policies where necessary to make them clear, fair, and easy-to-follow; 2) provide an incentive for the clubs to follow the policies.

We started our policy revision process by meeting individually with every club to receive feedback on our policies. We also worked closely with both our IT department and Risk Management office to ensure ease of delivery and college policy compliance. By way of this feedback, our travel policies have been developed intentionally over time in order to facilitate club organization and manage risk. They have also been successful based upon further feedback and assessment. At the heart of our policies are two core principles: 1) Make it simple; 2) Provide an incentive.

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