Is VIP leadership of sport associations a good idea?

As a general proposition it's not a good idea to have high status individuals (VIPs) operating sport organizations simply because of their high status. Unless an organization's officers bring something to the table besides their status the organizations have little to gain.

Former politicians, celebrities, and other notables are often solicited to lead Malaysian sport associations. What is it that these individuals bring to the organization that can help move the sport forward? Can these individuals be effective in running the association? What expertise do they really have?

Organization leaders hold varying degrees of positional authority depending on their office. The president and fellow officers may wield more power than others in the organization but this is due to how their positions are defined in the group's bylaws or constitution.

But when the person who holds the office of president also holds a high degree of social, political, or honorary status, as in the case of Datuk's, Tan Sri's etc., then the mix of positional authority and social status becomes a problem. Deference to social status is expected in Malaysia so how can ordinary members of an association voice differing opinions without seeming to disrespect the status of organizational leaders? They probably won't, and thus the scope of an association's discourse will be narrowed. Resulting decisions will reflect the ideas of only one person or a very small group.

Naturally there are exceptions to the above but the appearance of lopsided governance should be avoided and be enough to dissuade associations from seeking high status individuals to lead their organizations in the first place.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) will hold an election soon to determine their new president. Two of the main candidates can easily be classified as VIPs, one is royalty. As a result of this election the FAM may face the consequences discussed above. How they handle the lopsided status between new leadership and the ordinary rank-and-file members will be an interesting study in organizational governance.