Evaluation of the innovative elements of the WYOG 2012 sports programme with particular emphasis on the media and spectators : final report / prep. by Martin Schnitzer

Schnitzer, Martin

Edited by University of Innsbruck - 2012

Introduction: Sport is exposed to constant processes of change as it adapts to the prevailing conditions in a society. Accordingly, the Olympic Games have responded to social change by introducing new developments along the way. Besides incorporating new continents and implementing equality, the sports included in the Games have been adapted and new disciplines and/or competitions added to reflect new social conditions (Pound, 2008). The most recent new development was the introduction of the Youth Olympic Games which serve, among others, as a testing ground for innovative competitions (IOC, 2011b). In January 2012, the first Winter Youth Olympic Games were staged in Innsbruck. Whether or not innovative elements are embraced within the Youth Olympic Games greatly depends on how they are perceived by the media and the spectators. Gaps in research currently exist in the connection between innovation in sport and its impact on spectators as a target group. By contrast, the function of the media as an engine for innovation in sport has been amply demonstrated in academic literature (Lamprecht & Stamm, 2002; Schauerte & Schwier, 2004; Schwier, 2000). Overall, the perception of these two stakeholders plays an essential role in the way in which innovative elements are assessed. This gives rise to the objective of this report which aims to evaluate how the media and spectators perceive the innovative sporting events held at the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. Method: The empirical survey was conducted during the Innsbruck 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games. The aim was to gain new findings with respect to the initiation and presentation of innovative sports at sports events with a view to deriving recommendations for future action. The questionnaire itself was broken down into a general and a specific section. The media section requested media-specific information regarding media coverage and details of the medium in question. As regards the spectators, the specific section of the questionnaire requested information on the spectator’s profile. The media were asked to complete the form at the media centres, whereas the spectators were approached in the spectator areas. In total, 102 members of the media (35.57 ±11.23 years of age) and 412 spectators (29.84 ±13.16 years of age) participated in the survey. Results: In the overall ranking, the members of the media rated the Ski Jumping Individual Competition Women most positively with a mean score of 1.85 (±0.632). The Alpine Skiing Mixed Parallel Team event (1.92 ±0.624) and the Snowboard Slopestyle (1.95 ± 0.760) were also given particularly positive mean ratings. The members of the media likewise felt that the Freestyle Ski Halfpipe (2.02 ±0.763) and the Cross Country Skiing Biathlon Mixed Team Relay (2.02 ±0.422) were highly successful. With a mean of 2.46 (±0.751), the Ice Hockey Skills Challenge event came last in the ranking. In the overall spectator ranking, the Short Track Mixed NOC Relay (1.76 ±0.593) finished top. This was followed by Cross Country Skiing Biathlon Mixed Team Relay (1.78 ±0.670), Speed Skating Mass Start (1.80 ±0.617), Ski Jumping Individual Competition Women (1.81±0.515) and Freestyle Ski Halfpipe (1.82 ±0.637). The highest and thus worst mean values were scored by the two Curling Competitions, i.e. 2.32 (± 0.679) and 2.38 (±0.808). In the final ranking of both stakeholders, the Ski Jumping Individual Competition Women ranked top with a mean score of 1.83 (±0.574). This was followed by Short Track Mixed NOC Relay (1.90 ±0.781) and Cross Country Skiing Biathlon Mixed Team Relay (1.90 ±0.547). The Freestyle Ski Halfpipe (1.92 ±0.700) and Alpine Skiing Parallel Team Event (1.95±0.630) were likewise high in the overall stakeholder ranking. The highest averages and thus the worst rankings were scored by the Ice Hockey Skills Challenge (2.24 ±0.661), the Curling NOC Doubles Competition (2.25 ±0.499) and the Curling Mixed Team Competition (2.30 ±0.700). Discussion: Both the members of the media and the spectators displayed a pronounced interest in the new competitions. It should be emphasised that all the new events were given highly positive scores by both stakeholder groups. Many aspects of the new Cross Country Skiing Biathlon Mixed Team Relay were deemed particularly suitable by both the media and the spectators. Based on the findings of this survey, both stakeholders share the view that this event should be included in the Olympic Programme. The members of the media also displayed a preference for the Alpine Skiing Parallel Team Event. After taking all aspects into account, the spectators gave both the Short Track Mixed NOC Relay and the Speed Skating Mass Start high rankings, neither of which are currently under consideration for the Olympic Sports Programme. The members of the media stated that the completely new Ice Hockey Skills Challenge should not be recommended for inclusion in the Olympic Games. Equally, they concluded that the event should still be held at the Winter Youth Olympics, not least because it triggered an electric mood amongst spectators. Conclusion: This study contains findings that could assist the IOC with the further development of its Olympic Programme. The Youth Olympic Games represent an important testing ground for innovation within the Olympic Movement. The potential thus offered is yet to be exhausted. In years to come, the Youth Olympic Games will continue to serve as a platform for innovation and as an engine for bringing on new competitions in the Olympic context. In terms of living up to the aims of the Olympic Movement whilst taking into account the dynamic needs of society, the findings showed that the IOC is clearly proceeding down the right path.

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