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Michael P. Sam

Taskforces, commissions of inquiry, and advisory committees are significant institutional features in the development of government sport policy. This study analyzes New Zealand’s Ministerial Taskforce on Sport, Fitness, and Leisure (2001) and uses empirical data gathered from observations of consultations, interviews with committee members, and available documents. It is argued that procedural, organizational, and political considerations significantly shaped and constrained the Taskforce’s findings and recommendations. Two fundamental contradictions are discussed. The first concerns the expectations for these bodies to develop both innovative and pragmatic recommendations in light of their ad hoc nature, their broad mandates, and short time lines. The second contradiction speaks to the paradoxical nature of taskforces in developing sport policy, noting in particular their dual roles as both advocates for the sport sector and investigators responsible for addressing problems and issues.

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Michael P. Sam

National taskforces and inquiries are used extensively by governments wishing to review their involvement in sport. Underpinning these reviews are dominant ideas like “national unity” or “excellence.” Ideas matter in public policy because they form the basis for framing political judgments and because their meanings are continually translated into future plans and actions (Hoppe, 1993). This study investigates the role of ideas in shaping and circumscribing the findings and recommendations emanating from a national taskforce in New Zealand. Information was gathered through interviews with Taskforce members, observations of public consultations, and analysis of submitted documents. Key ideas included notions of efficiency, competitiveness, and leadership. These ideas are discussed, focusing in particular on their contradictory/paradoxical nature and their role in (re)producing power relations. The paper concludes with future research questions and a call for more critical investigations into sport policy-making.

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Cecilia Stenling and Michael Sam

Despite an increase of advocacy by established nongovernmental sport organizations, little is known about how advocacy is enacted and with what effects. Building conceptually on frame alignment theory and empirically on interview data from 19 Swedish Regional Sport Federations, this article investigates how advocates politicize sport to gain “insider status” and analyses the by-products of such efforts. This research demonstrates that the architecture of advocacy claims perpetuates a separation between organizations that “sell” sport from those that “produce” it. Framing also impels centralized authority because advocates safeguard their credibility as political actors by taking up a “leadership-position” vis-à-vis clubs. Advocacy frame alignment has further by-products insofar as they narrow advocates’ room for maneuver and become institutionalized over time.

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Jay Scherer and Michael P. Sam

Despite growing calls from activists and sport scholars for public consultation over the expenditure of public funds for stadium developments, there remains a lack of empirical research that examines the politics of these practices. This study critically examines the power relations and tensions present in the public-consultation processes and debates over the use of public funds to renovate or rebuild Carisbrook stadium. Specifically, we engage the enabling and constraining institutional mechanisms that structured five public meetings, which emerged as discursive political spaces in the policy-making process. In doing so, we critically examine the discourses that were actively shaped by stadium proponents to fit the mandates of neoliberal growth and resisted by concerned citizens who opposed: (a) the use of public funds to renovate or rebuild the stadium, and (b) a consultation process driven by a public–private partnership of business, civic, and rugby interests that had perplexing consequences for democratic politics in local governance.

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Luke I. Macris and Michael P. Sam

With growing governmental involvement in sport, there has been a corresponding demand on national sport organizations (NSOs) to operate within performance measurement systems. In this study, we analyze data from New Zealand to determine NSO officials’ perceptions of (a) their reporting relationship with the central agency (Sport and Recreation New Zealand), and (b) the system of performance contracts (or “investment schedules”). Following Norman (2002), we found differing perceptions regarding the legitimacy of performance systems and three tensions emerged. First, the clarity of focus enabled by performance measurement was tempered by the perception of an ever-changing political environment. Second, NSO officials acted strategically and opportunistically at times, marshalling arguments around performance measures to “capture” their principal. Third, neither trust nor distrust in the system necessarily translated into compliance; some NSOs sought independence from the system. This research speaks to the legitimacy of performance systems, a significant but tenuous element to their sustainability.

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Michael P. Sam and Steven J. Jackson

This study illustrates how the rules and practices of a task force inquiry shaped the formulation of its policy. Adopting an institutional approach, it analyzes New Zealand’s Ministerial Taskforce on Sport, Fitness and Leisure (2001). Specifically, this article investigates the role of institutional arrangements (including public consultation and submission procedures) in shaping, delimiting, and circumscribing that task force’s findings and recommendations. The investigation consists of a critical analysis of available texts—including recorded observations of public consultations, written submissions, committee notes—and interviews with task force members. Two features of this task force are described and analyzed: (1) its terms of reference and operative assumptions and (2) its rules and procedures that guided the public participation processes. It is shown that the institutional arrangements can channel debates and thereby recast political relations among interests.

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Anna Sverdlik, Robert J. Vallerand, Ariane St-Louis, Michael Sam Tion and Geneviève Porlier

The new construct of integrated temporal positivity—defined as the positive, adaptive, and dynamic use of the past, the present, and the future—is posited to promote optimal functioning. Based on the dualistic model of passion, the present research sought to test the hypothesis that harmonious passion, more than obsessive passion, triggers a higher use of integrated temporal positivity that, in turn, leads to one crucial type of sport performance, namely last-second performance. The results of 3 studies conducted with team-sport athletes (Study 1, n = 625; Study 2, n = 285; and Study 3, n = 263) provided clear support for the hypothesis. The results pave the way for future research focusing on the role of adaptive temporal processes in support of sport performance.

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Sam Lowings, Oliver Michael Shannon, Kevin Deighton, Jamie Matu and Matthew John Barlow

Nitrate supplementation appears to be most ergogenic when oxygen availability is restricted and subsequently may be particularly beneficial for swimming performance due to the breath-hold element of this sport. This represents the first investigation of nitrate supplementation and swimming time-trial (TT) performance. In a randomized double-blind repeated-measures crossover study, ten (5 male, 5 female) trained swimmers ingested 140ml nitrate-rich (~12.5mmol nitrate) or nitrate-depleted (~0.01mmol nitrate) beetroot juice. Three hours later, subjects completed a maximal effort swim TT comprising 168m (8 × 21m lengths) backstroke. Preexercise fractional exhaled nitric oxide concentration was significantly elevated with nitrate compared with placebo, Mean (SD): 17 (9) vs. 7 (3)p.p.b., p = .008. Nitrate supplementation had a likely trivial effect on overall swim TT performance (mean difference 1.22s; 90% CI -0.18–2.6s; 0.93%; p = .144; d = 0.13; unlikely beneficial (22.6%), likely trivial (77.2%), most unlikely negative (0.2%)). The effects of nitrate supplementation during the first half of the TT were trivial (mean difference 0.29s; 90% CI -0.94–1.5s; 0.46%; p = .678; d = 0.05), but there was a possible beneficial effect of nitrate supplementation during the second half of the TT (mean difference 0.93s; 90% CI 0.13–1.70s; 1.36%; p = .062; d = 0.24; possibly beneficial (63.5%), possibly trivial (36.3%), most unlikely negative (0.2%)). The duration and speed of underwater swimming within the performance did not differ between nitrate and placebo (both p > .30). Nitrate supplementation increased nitric oxide bioavailability but did not benefit short-distance swimming performance or the underwater phases of the TT. Further investigation into the effects of nitrate supplementation during the second half of performance tests may be warranted.