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Mediation for High Performance Sports Disputes

July 21st, 2015

Originally produced as conference material for the 17th Annual ABA ADR Conference, April 16, 2015
Paul Denis Godin

I: INTRODUCTION – MEDIATION IN AMATEUR SPORTS DISPUTES
Conflicts in high performance amateur sport (“HPS”) are tense emotionally-charged disputes for athletes, coaches, and the national and international sports organizations (“NSO”s and “ISO”s) involved. Such conflicts raise intriguing challenges for the mediators and arbitrators charged with handling them. High performance level sports disputes are a volatile mix of high-stakes win/lose issues, multiple parties, intensely competitive personalities, rigid criteria from multiple sources, and numerous process challenges (such as timelines sometimes measured in hours, and parties spread all around the globe).

Mediation has proven to be a successful tool in both managing and resolving these challenging disputes, often in creative ways that have maintained and even improved relationships. Crucial to achieving those successes is the ability of good mediators to adapt to and deal with the peculiar challenges noted above.

Focusing on the experiences of the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (“SDRCC”), mediations of HPS disputes are reviewed.
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