April 8 sport for development.doc

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University of Alberta
Physical Education, Recreation and Leisure Studies
Sean Ryan

April 8 – Sport for Development • Previous reading dealt with athletes as activists • This reading shifts the focus to sport as a whole and the role it could play in achieving development goals (ex. Poverty reduction, crime prevention etc.) • The article doesn’t say that sport is always bad and negative. However, we do need to recognize the concern about the idea of sport for development. It can be an incredible tool but it isn’t being used to its potential. • The discourse around sport for development is often heartfelt and earnest, but is anecdotal and lacking in hard evidence • the goal of many studies is to prove sport works to promote development instead of seeking to understand what sport does in those situations. • This is a form of bias that assumes sport works like this instead of asking whether it does • Confirmation bias is when you are seeking to confirm what you think you know and you aren’t conducting an experiment with an open mind What is Development? 2 meanings: Individual • Help people achieve their potential • Attributes like cooperation, sportsmanship, and competition are valued • Based on normative ideas of personal growth and socialization (ex. Age appropriate personal growth and development of motor skills and interpersonal skills) • When someone steps outside of acceptable areas, they are subject to racism Broader systematic meaning • Often this is conceptualized in terms of western development models that assume neoliberalism is the pinnacle of development • So programs in some countries try to replicate western models of governance, which can amount to colonialism • Economic development is central here: raise poor countries and people out of poverty through the adoption of western late market capitalist means • You can alleviate poverty without bringing money into it, but that doesn’t fit into our system as it is money based • Sport for development isn’t pushing a communist model; what is being used is an economic model What is Development? • In most cases, ‘development’ is an assumed positive • but given the different meanings, without exploring the specific meaning and use, development can simply contribute to the maintenance of the status quo and miss its transformative potential Sport as Development: Dominant Approach • largely uncritical and un-self conscious • sport participation is thought to ‘naturally’ lead to development • its inherent in sport. The idea is that you just need to do sport and things will start happening • this is the neoliberal vision of sport (see especially pg 287-288) • this approach targets both the ‘problem’ individual and the ‘problem’ community • this approach doesn’t take into account the sociological imagination
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