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The scholars of sport for development (SFD) suggest the need for advancements in theory development and stronger connections between practice and theory. This article outlines some of the challenges and barriers to theory development in SFD and suggests ways to move forward. The authors state that theories and frameworks in SFD are underdeveloped as a result of methodological and contextual challenges due to the variance in SFD programming. The SFD programs are being implemented across the globe in a myriad of countries and contexts, addressing varying social issues that make theory development challenging. Suggestions are put forward to help scholars and practitioners overcome these challenges, including creativity in methodology, collaborations in program assessment, and the need for patience required of fields focusing on social and behavioral change.
The authors are with the Center for Sport Leadership, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.