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A conjunct approach in the democratization of sport for development
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A conjunct participation and involvement of actors within the sport ecosystem can harness the amalgamation of diversity, openness and gender equality in a democratic approach towards sport for development.

This article was submitted as part of sportanddev’s call for articles on sport and democracy. Want to share your views? Find out how.

Introduction

The concept of sport and democracy within the sport ecosystem is not new. Christesen (2012), among other scholars, has shared views and opinions on this subject matter in helping to establish the relationship that exists between sport and democracy. In so doing, the author unveils the concept of horizontal and vertical sport within organizational structures, the notion of societal participation in sport and consumption, and sport being utilized as an adjunct activity to foster democracy. Christesen proposes a direction in horizontal sport within sport organizational structures, where leaders and followers fall on one side or have similar influence to promote democracy in sport.

Kyriazis and Economou (2015), in their contribution to democracy in sport, introduced a new concept of ‘macroculture’ – a notion found to underpin and support values, norms and beliefs in human existence. The authors state that the concept is able to pull in values such as equality and trust, which breed an environment to foster democracy in sport. In addition, a study by Smiles (2012) used the grounded theory approach to gather evidence on transformation and democratization of South African sport, and whether it was politically or merit driven.

Recently, McClure and Anne-Lise (2022) have assessed how issues of race, gender, democracy and citizenship impacts interscholastic sport in the United States. More so, Ricknell et al. (2022) have also touched on the role of sport and identity in democratic society. While the concept of sport and democracy has been in discourse, yet there exists a predisposition and or skewness in the approach to enhance democracy in sport.

Conjunct approach

Thus, there is a need to rethink and reconsider the tactics employed to bridge the gap of democracy in sport. It is in line with this that I propose a conjunct participation and involvement of actors within the sport ecosystem to harness the amalgamation of diversity, openness and gender equality in a democratic approach to sport for development.

To throw more light on this approach, a reflection on the UK code for sport governance will proffer some underpinnings. The code sets out five principles – structure, people, communication, standards & conduct, and policies & processes – to guide sport organization governance. The people and structure principles of the code bridge the diversity and gender inequality gap, in our quest to foster democracy in sport and fulfilling SDG 10 (reduced inequalities). The remaining, principles in summary, share on openness among stakeholders within the sport ecosystem to foster democracy in sport, an approach to meet up SDG 16. Hence, the joining and or bringing together diversity, openness and gender equality in the discourse of democracy in sport is in tandem with the code for sport governance, and thus, the proposition of the conjunct approach.

Furthermore, representations on various boards and committees within the sport ecosystem should have in them a diverse and wide representation of the people to better echo the voice of the masses. For instance, the board at the National Sports Authority – an arm of government saddled with the responsibility of implementation of sport policy in Ghana – in its formation should adopt a conjunct approach in taking decisions to better reflect the views and opinions of the people. It is through such an approach, in addition to the many propositions, that democracy in sport could be enhanced and the implementation of sport policies can be effective and efficient.

Lastly, to be able to enhance and foster democracy through and in sport, it is vital that the presence of political influence and hegemony be tackled in line with promoting diversity, openness and gender equality to drive democratic discourse. On this score, I agree with Christesen, who shares on horizontal sport engagement within the sport ecosystem, where leaders and followers share a common opportunity to foster free communication and fair hearing, void of intimidation and fear, thereby, promoting democracy in sport. 

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References

Christesen, P. (2012). Sport and Democracy in the Ancient and Modern Worlds. Cambridge University Press.

Kyriazis, N., & Economou, E.M.L. (2015). Macroculture, sports and democracy in classical Greece. European Journal of Law and Economics, 40, 431-455. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10657-013-9390-3

McClure, D.R., & Anne-Lise, H. (2022). Raise a fist, take a knee: the intersection of interscholastic sports and democratic education, Sport in Society, 25(12), 2519-2540. https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2021.1956465

Ricknell, E., Silander, D., Silander, C., Van der Elst, H., & Heydenrynch, P. (2022). “Sport Society: The Role of Sport and Identity in Democratic Society. South Africa’s Democracy at the Crossroads.” 157-171. Emerald Publishing.

Smiles, J.A. (2012). Transformation and democratization of South African sport in the new constitutional dispensation, with special reference to rugby as a sport code. Retrieved from https://scholar.ufs.ac.za/xmlui/handle/11660/1780

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Frank Appiah Kusi is an Assistant Lecturer in Sport Management at the School of Sports and Exercise Medicine of University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ghana. Appiah Kusi, is also a Ph.D. Student at the Graduate School of Business and Management of Philippine Christian University, Manila, Philippines.

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