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Major sporting events, children's rights and global media coverage


Major sporting events, children's rights and global media coverage

Major sporting events can have a huge impact on children. Some countries pay far more attention to this fact than others. Why?

At the 2015 Play the Game Conference in Denmark, the awareness of how sports – and especially mega sporting events (MSEs) – can affect children and their families was clear. Displacement, labour and exploitation are some of the unfortunate side-effects of MSEs. With sessions dedicated specifically to such topics, the individuals present had a keen awareness of these issues. However, in the global media, that awareness is far more variable.

Dr. Till Müller-Schoell and Louis Moustakas, researchers from the German Sport University building on previous work done with Terre des Hommes International Federation, presented results quantifying international media coverage of children's rights in 2014 within three MSEs – the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Brazil FIFA World Cup and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Some countries, such as the USA, UK and Brazil showed high awareness, while others, including Italy, Russia and Algeria, had limited media coverage of the issue. Using results for 22 countries, the researchers compared the data against various indices for sport, economic and human development, aiming to find potential explanations for these differences.

The data collected showed that freedom of the press and economic development are prerequisites for higher amounts of coverage, but not drivers. National interest – here reflected by the amount of athletes sent to MSEs in 2014 – is the strongest driver of coverage once the required freedom and economic thresholds are met. Therefore, these results reaffirm the value that athletes can have in disseminating information and also emphasise the necessity for advocacy to focus on the national interests of the country where the advocacy is taking place.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Louis Moustakas


Monday, November 9, 2015 - 15:00