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What does a sanctioning body do?

Let's use some analogies, because that's a fun way to deal with a dry topic. :D

A sanctioning body is like the chef of a very fancy restaurant. The chef creates the recipes for the meals, but when it comes time to make them, it isn't the chef that cuts up the carrots or sets the timer for the oven. The chef decides the flavor of the meals, and the direction that the menu will evolve. The decisions that the chef makes filter down through all the other people at the restaurant until they define the dining experience that the customer has. Will it be pretentious French haute cuisine? Or will it be your favorite Irish pub?

In the same way, the sanctioning body create the recipe for the events, by making the rules that the race operates by. But it isn't the sanctioning body that recruits volunteers, or chooses the roads, or sends the route book off to the printer. These things are done by the event organizer, working within the framework that the sanctioning body provides.

The least a sanctioning body can do is provide insurance to the events that run with it. That is, literally, the least they can do, and it is the bottom of the stick against which any value should be measured. For while the sanctioning body does hold authority about certain aspects of how the event must operate, at the end of the day the racers and the event organizers are customers that must be treated well.

The other things that a sanctioning body should do mainly relate to the scale at which it operates.

  • Every event could build a registration and online payment system... Why, when the sanctioning body could build one that they all could share?
  • Every event could spend time making PDF forms for timing log sheets and other paperwork.... Why, when the sanctioning body could make some that they all could share?
  • Every event could have a different volunteering systems.... Why, when the sanctioning body could build one that they all could share?

The sanctioning body should be looking at all the effort that goes into putting on events, and evaluating which pieces are being duplicated over and over, and bring those in-house and standardize them to reduce the effort for everyone.

So there are simultaneously two views, one where the sanctioning body is The Man, clamping down on all the crazy stuff you want to do and ruining your fun, and another where the sanctioning body is Your Favorite Boss, giving you a company truck and a company cell phone to get all your work done which makes your life much easier.