Sports development should be focused on mass participation not elite talent identification. Discuss.
Sports development is something which by definition caters for both the masses as well as elite athletes. However after recent spending reviews more light has been thrown on the question, which does deserve more funding and resources? In answering this question a lot of analysis has to go in to what it is that the government want out of sport and what do they consider good results to be. Both types of participation obviously have their own requirements financially and to a degree both feed into each other. However where should we focus predominantly?
Historically sports development has only been something on the peripheries of the government’s agenda. However in recent years we have seen sport come to the forefront as government officials recognize the significance sport plays in wider society. The reform started with the Wolfenden report in 1960 which was principally aimed at providing sport for the mass public. The direction of sport changed in 1995 under the Conservative government where a ‘raising the game’ slogan was adopted “which indicated the withdrawal of central government and the Sport’s Council from the provision of opportunities for mass participation and focused on the development of elite athlete development”(Houlihan & Green. M 2005:p56). It was argued by Houlihan that this abandoned any pretense of an integrated and multi-dimensional approach to sports development. It is this act by the tori government which reinforces the question of what should sport be used for? Under the conservatives the thinking was more about using the money to create medals and success on a national stage not at the local levels. This view ironically was not adopted by the more left wing new Labour administration who expressed desires to make sport something that was again for the masses; as such produced more initiatives for sport and funding. Having produced a brief historical overview it more apparent the divide in beliefs about what sport should be, and to an extent shows the divide in thinking between left and right wing politicians.
Sport development is something that can be considered a moderately new field but can still be seen to have made inroads into making sport something more readily available. Sports development is something that is hard to conceptualize within the UK, as generalized beliefs in what it is differs as to what it’s primary function serves to be. One such model which serves to try to highlight what sports development is the pyramid model. As cited by Houlihan( REF) the model has four levels being foundation, participation at a local or regular level; the next level progresses into higher performance levels with more opportunities with coaching and finally excellence with the emphasis on elite performance. This model is something which in principal works as athletes progress from one level to the next. However as Houlihan argues the model “assumes that every participant in sport wishes to move through the system until they reach their desired level” yet the model fails to acknowledge that people might not make the transition into the next level making the model redundant, yet in principal it still highlights a way that sport can achieve elitism. This is advocated by Green who argues we need “to create a deep pool of athletes from which a corps of elite athletes can develop” (Green. C 2005: p234) I agree with Green in that the development of athletes does stem from a broad rate of participation and as such the model does serve to provide platform from which we can go from. Yet if the aim is to develop sports athlete’s into elite athletes then this model doesn’t provide the best framework as the emphasis is not on elitism but more on a ‘sport for all’ setting. Hence my opinion would be to develop the model into something which improved better athletes; by this I mean I would cut the foundation level...
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