This chapter examines the cornerstone of sport in the United Kingdom—the voluntary sector. It considers the organizations involved and the structures and individuals involved, citing practical examples and the dynamics of the paid staff's relationship with the voluntary workers.
It also considers the management of voluntary sports organizations and the possibility of dominance by small groups or powerful individuals, the difficulty of delivering change in any such organizations and the increasing need to recruit, retain and reward more volunteers to keep sport functioning.
Hoggett and Bishop (1985) made the following statement about the voluntary sector in sport:
This is a world inadequately studied and often insufficiently understood by those Local Authority officers who have to provide services alongside it and sometimes wish to use it to develop and spread the leisure activities it enfolds, or see a need to support it. What is needed in this relationship is a more widespread respect and mutual understanding that this is a world of self-determining groups which by inclination and constitution must be free to reject advice, support or the chance to work municipalities for a wider public good, if they so wish.
The nature of sport in the UK is that it operates on the basis of voluntarism. This reliance on volunteers probably has many weaknesses, but it certainly has many strengths. The professionalization of sports administration and governing body and club organization in sport remains limited, despite their growth over recent years, and while some would argue that there is an ever-growing need to move towards a more professional attitude, most realize that it would be impossible to find the funds to pay the large number of people who work in sports administration in Britain.
A massive voluntary workforce drives sport forward in the UK, and it is important that everyone operating in the field, in a paid or unpaid capacity,