Ian Henry presents a critical reflection on the transferability of western principles and values in the governance of sport. Emphasising that modernity is not a homogeneous phenomenon, he questions the inevitability of the emulation by the non-west of ‘progress’ achieved and enjoyed within sport governance in the West. Because local features persist in aspects of governance that have undergone ‘modernisation’, subtle formal differences exist in different local contexts which are modern but not uniform. The author contends that, rather than imposing definitive sport governance principles per se, there is therefore greater promise in promoting agreement concerning the processes through which such principles should be decided.