My initial view as an assessor at the beginning of the award, was the difficulty of comparing the management of centres that were very different e.g. a large town centre facility with a small rural. Indeed, at one stage there was a discussion about the desirability of having different categories.
The award then moved on to a phase of using ‘performance measures’ to provide some objectivity (which were being developed and were liked by the Audit Commission!). Other management processes were also being introduced such as Business Planning and Marketing plans. These tended to favour the management of large centres where some such processes were in use in any case. As a manager of large centres around that time the award did not represent extra work because most of what was required was available. However, I recognise that managers of smaller centres were being asked to do things that were not so relevant to them. This element of the award did help the development of discussions on ‘performance measures and business planning’.
It seemed to me that the award assessment then moved away from attempting to concentrate on ‘management’ and moved more towards assessing centres according to whatever was the current flavour of the moment within the ranks of the Sports Council. This affect did upset some managers because they did not accept that all the Sports Council criteria were relevant to their local situation, and felt that some value judgements were being imposed on them if they wanted to succeed in the Award.
At one point however good the management of a centre was, if it was a big centre and had a high capital cost it would not win!
Overall, the award was worth doing and did make some contribution to standards of management.