European policy systems and sport for all as a policy objective / Ian Henry

Henry, Ian

Edited by Centre for Olympic Studies & Research, Loughborough University - 2016

This review paper outlines the emergence, development and relative decline of Sport for All policy in Europe over the last half century. I will argue that sports policy generally and more specifically Sport for All, has reached a point at which some of the basic tenets upon which sport for all policy are built have been called into question. The IOC’s own Sport for All Commission highlights the dual rationale for the promotion of sport for all with an emphasis on sport as an intrinsic human right, and on sport as a vehicle for extrinsic health and social benefits (IOC, 2012). However, we shall argue that the intrinsic value of sport, in terms of enjoyment and the right of individuals to access to life-enhancing activity, has given way to a series of extrinsic rationales, in which the universal availability of sport has been replaced by selective access for those who can afford it, and to a system in which increasingly elite sport, and support for sport for the young and school-based sport, overshadow the importance of sport for all per se. The article will conclude with a discussion of the ways in which the staging of the Games themselves, despite evidence to the contrary in relation to adult participation, appears to have been able to leverage additional exposure of young people to opportunities in sport and physical education.

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