If risk is the chance of receiving a benefit but potentially a loss, then the Ben Cousins saga is a classic example of risk and reward. The challenge for AFL club Richmond, is to balance the chance of loss with the chance of achieving a gain.
As Cousin's options for clubs in the AFL have dwindled throughout 2008, Richmond now appears to be offering the Brownlow medallist a lifeline; but the risks are high.
What is the chance of the reformed drug addict reoffending and the potential damage to the club's brand, reputation and balance sheet through loss of ticket sales, membership and sponsorships? It was only 2005 when the Victorian Transport Accident Commission ended a long standing relationship and sponsorship with the Richmond Club following a drink driving incident involving a Richmond player. It was reported to have cost the club in excess of $500,000 per year.
The opportunities that Ben brings to the club are however considerable. A Brownlow medalist, seasoned midfielder and big potential crowd draw card are obvious. He could add considerable financial value to the club and its brand, if he remains ‘clean'. Onerous drug testing procedures imposed by the AFL and the club may be tolerable depending upon the club's risk appetite and effectiveness of these control measures.
A risk-based approach to decision-making can help sporting clubs make decisions about alternative courses of action. Managing risk is not just about compliance with standards and the law, but is about minimising threats and capitalising on opportunities within an agreed framework.