Our society deserves a sporting chance
In a period marked by high levels of youth unemployment in many parts of Europe, Professor Grant Jarvie (University of Edimburgh) calls for the positive social contribution of sports to society overall. According to him, many studies have already shown that sports help improve the well-being and economic health of individuals and communities. Numerous examples of the power of sports exist throughout the world. For instance, it fosters the regeneration of deprived urban areas in London, Glasgow, Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro; child soldiers in Kenya are given the opportunity to experience normality; and in many cities in the UK crimes and youth unemployment are fought through sports. In addition, the London Games will probably have a positive impact on the lives of the 70,000 volunteers mobilized during the Olympics. In those cases, sports clearly work as the common denominator.
Professor Jarvie argues that politicians should take the power of sports more seriously and not only consider it as a soft policy tool. In the long run, it can lead to significant changes, both socially and economically. Indeed, it contributes to the rising of the GDP: Melbourne was voted the ultimate sports city for several years and it did not curtail its economic growth. Moreover, sports sometimes help to change the image of a nation. A successful carrier such as Novak Djokovic’s gives the chance to modify the perception of Serbia being a war ravaged country to the outside world.
Finally, the lack of resources, due to the economic crisis, should never threaten the very existence and spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Neither should it put the organization of other events in jeopardy, especially in a times of austerity. The extensive media coverage of sports competitions and their popularity should urge all governments to recognize the contribution of sport to a high number of key policy areas, such as youth, education and integration.