On the 27th of July The Age reported that AFL players were considering a boycott of Etihad Stadium because the playing surface was deemed as “unacceptable”. Prior to last weekend’s rugby international (the Bledisloe Cup), much of the media attention about the game focussed on the turf. Operational and Reputational Risks

Issues regarding the standard of playing surfaces come up in the media time and time again, especially in cricket and the football codes. It is an example of how an operational risk can lead to the potential for reputational damage.

Another recent example of how a poor playing surface led to reputational damage of a sporting event involved the one-day international cricket match between India and Sri Lanka in December 2009. The match was abandoned after 23 overs, with umpires declaring that the extreme variable bounce made further play too dangerous. At the time, ESPN claimed that this may have led to the possibility of New Delhi losing its right to host any matches during the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

But operational risks affecting the field of play can also have a significant business continuity impact. In some parts of Australia, scarab beetles affect public sportsgrounds and golf courses; this can damage the playing surface, compromising player safety. In the past, scarab outbreaks have forced the temporary closure of affected venues. Similarly, outbreaks of cryptosporidium have forced the closure of public swimming pools across the country, particularly during the 1990’s.

Ultimately, operational risks can have a significant impact on the business and its reputation if they affect a critical business function. The field of play of any public venue or event is the ‘stage’ for core business. As such, organisers should conduct robust risk assessments of this area, to ensure risk mitigation and business continuity management plans are in place and have been tested.