The future of social responsibility in sport
The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has affected all sectors of society, transforming our consumption and behaviour habits. The sports field is characterised by being a sector that adapts to its changing environment, and now, it has done so. Professional sport has been paralysed and thanks to this, programmes and initiatives to promote physical activity in local communities have become more important. Is it time for the sports sector to change its purpose and focus much more on cooperation and development? Why will politicians and professionals be able to maintain the position of health sport as a vital element against the commercial interests of high competition sport?
In 2015, a survey conducted by the Nielsen Global Survey of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, indicated that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for brands that are committed to making a positive social and environmental impact. Society is changing, so also is the sports sector, wanting to create a link between sustainable and development policies in emerging countries. Likewise, achieving corporate social responsibility will be a challenge for the coming years. The relentless focus of the sporting role in society will be in the spotlight and activities through management will examine whether or not they contribute positively to society. Companies and projects that are unable to demonstrate their social utility will find themselves in an adverse situation against those that respond positively to this challenge because making a difference will be essential to prosper in an increasingly competitive world.
Continuing with the social mission, sport plays a very important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due to its transformative potential and being a crucial element for the lives of children and young people around the world because it offers advantages in the scope of health, education, citizen prosperity and provides life opportunities. The theoretical framework of the SDGs offers a way to carry out social sports policies linking different sectors and, finally, reaching synergy between local administration and non-governmental organisations to develop intervention projects through sport.
Increasingly, there is much formal education in the sports field, which is why there is an extensive network of specialists. These people should lead to the transformation of the sector by designing specific programmes that can intervene in local policies. An example of these programmes could be the project carried out by ITIK Consulting Sport & Leisure, which is a sports & development Company specialised in public contracts with governments interested in using sport as a tool to develop society. The projects consisted of helping to create a strategic plan for school sports in Saudi Arabia that allowed Saudi girls to complete the subject of physical education at school.
The future is to think big and globally, developing effective programmes that influence the territory, training and involving the people who form it because they will be the ones who lead it when the intervention ends. It is important to give visibility to local communities by enhancing their value, their traditions and their education, which is the path that will help them increase their resources, knowledge and provide opportunities for them to prosper. This process is not a utopia if we keep in mind the feelings of humanity, solidarity, cohesion and awareness that have appeared during these difficult moments, emphasising the importance of physical activity and sport as one of the main and necessary points in the life of people.
Andrea Flores is a sports consultant at ITIK Consulting Sport & Leisure, a sports and development company specialised in public contracts with governments interested in using sport as a tool to develop society. We work in the field of development, education, management, strategic planning, social inclusion and health awareness.