For several years, sport-for-development (SFD) programs have been implemented around the world to make a positive difference for disadvantaged or underprivileged communities. Within this context, special events have been used to complement regular development activities to celebrate social, cultural, and sporting achievements. To date, little managerial work has been conducted on the specific contributions that special events can play in the context of ongoing SFD endeavors. In addressing this issue, this paper presents findings from an empirical investigation of a participatory SFD event in the Pacific Islands. Findings suggest that special events can create new interest and excitement for SFD activities, reengage stakeholders to the wider SFD program, leverage partnerships, and provide opportunities to build and shape local management capacity. In discussing these findings, the paper highlights potential positive and negative impacts of special SFD events and provides practical and theoretical implications for SFD program design, management, and leverage.
The Contributions of Special Events to Sport-for-Development Programs
Rethinking the Social Value of Sport Events Through an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Perspective
Laura Misener and Nico Schulenkorf
With an increasing emphasis on the social value of sport and events, there has been a shift in focus regarding the management and development process of event projects as well as their associated outcomes. This shift is about emphasizing a more strategic approach to developing social benefits by recognizing and utilizing leverageable resources related to sport events as a means of fostering lasting social and economic change (Chalip, 2006; O’Brien & Chalip, 2007; Schulenkorf & Edwards, 2012). In this paper, we adapt and apply the asset-based community development (ABCD) approach as a means of developing a more action-oriented, community-based approach to leveraging the social assets of sporting events. In applying the ABCD approach, we aim to shift the focus of event-led projects away from attempts to “solve” social problems (i.e., deficit perspective) to enhancing the existing strengths of communities (i.e., strengths perspective). We reflect on case study findings that highlight the challenges and opportunities in realizing an ABCD approach for disadvantaged communities through an examination of a healthy lifestyle community event initiative in the Pacific Islands.
Cultivating Safe Space: Lessons for Sport-for-Development Projects and Events
Ramon Spaaij and Nico Schulenkorf
Recent research has examined how sports events and sport-for-development projects can create, sustain, and maximize positive social impacts for local communities. This article takes this debate forward by arguing that the cultivation of safe space is a key ingredient of sport-for-development management and community event leverage. Safe space is conceptualized as a multidimensional process that involves physical, psychological/affective, sociocultural, political, and experimental dimensions. Drawing on empirical findings from Sri Lanka, Israel, and Brazil, the article shows how these dimensions of safe space operate and interact in practice, and identifies practical strategies that sport managers, policymakers, and practitioners can use to cultivate safe spaces in and through sports projects and events.
Experience-Based Leadership Development and Professional Sport Organizations
Stephen Frawley, Daniel Favaloro, and Nico Schulenkorf
In recent years, there has been a significant interest around leadership development practices within the field of management. Leadership development is particularly important within the highly competitive sport industry, where leadership performance is under constant and ever-increasing scrutiny. For sport organizations, strong leadership can be a source of significant competitive advantage, and hence, increased focus on leadership and investment into the development of talent has occurred. However, there has been a surprising lack of scholarly research into leadership and the associated processes within the sport management field, particularly from an Australian perspective. This paper addresses this gap as it examines the nature of experience-based leadership development practices within three of Australia’s leading professional sport organizations. Following a qualitative multicase study approach, the thematic analysis of 15 in-depth semistructured interviews with members of the senior executive of each case organization suggested that the national sport organizations placed significant emphasis on experience-based opportunities as a way of developing their workforce. Via the adoption of McCall’s experience-based leadership development framework, four main themes emerged: the importance of experience-based opportunities for leadership development; leadership development through involvement and exposure to experiences; networking opportunities gained from experienced-based exposure; and the relationship between on-the-job experience and formal leadership education. These findings extend our knowledge of current leadership development and practices implemented in national sport organizations and highlight the importance of effective leadership within highly competitive sport markets. Based on these findings, implications are provided for current practice illustrating the benefits that an experience-based approach to leadership development within sport organizations can have.
Sport for Development: An Integrated Literature Review
Nico Schulenkorf, Emma Sherry, and Katie Rowe
Despite the significant increase of published research in sport-for-development (SFD), to date there have been no attempts to rigorously review and synthesize scholarly contributions in this area. To address this issue, we conducted an integrative review of SFD literature to portray an overarching and holistic picture of the field. Through a comprehensive literature analysis following Whittemore and Knafl’s (2005) five-step process, we provide evidence of the status quo of current SFD research foci, authorship, geographical contexts, theoretical frameworks, sport activity, level of development, methodologies, methods, and key research findings. Our study shows an increasing trend of journal publications since 2000, with a strong focus on social and educational outcomes related to youth sport and with football (soccer) as the most common activity. A large majority of SFD research has been conducted at the community level, where qualitative approaches are dominant. The geographical contexts of authorship and study location present an interesting paradox: Although the majority of SFD projects are carried out in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 90% of SFD authors are based in North America, Europe, and Australia. We conclude our study by providing new perspectives on key issues in SFD and by outlining current research and theoretical gaps that provide the basis for future scholarly inquiry.
Maximizing Positive Social Impacts: Strategies for Sustaining and Leveraging the Benefits of Intercommunity Sport Events in Divided Societies
Nico Schulenkorf and Deborah Edwards
Building on the evidence of social impacts generated by sport events, there is a need for research to identify strategies suitable for maximizing event benefits for disparate interest communities. This paper investigates the opportunities and strategic means for sustaining and leveraging social event benefits arising from intercommunity sport events in the ethnically divided Sri Lanka. Following an interpretive mode of inquiry, findings are derived from the analysis of two focus groups and 35 in-depth interviews with Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and international event stakeholders. To maximize event benefits, findings suggest that event organizers and host communities focus strategically on children as catalysts for change; increase ethnically mixed team sport activities; provide event-related sociocultural opportunities; combine large-scale events with regular sport-for-development programs; and engage in social, cultural, political and educational event leverage. By implementing these strategies and tactics, intercommunity sport events are likely to contribute to local capacity building and inclusive social change, which can have flow-on effects to the wider community. These findings extend the academic literature on strategic event planning, management and leverage, as they provide a focus on community event leverage for social purposes in a developing world context—an area which has thus far received limited empirical research.
Laefstael Jenses: An Investigation of Barriers and Facilitators for Healthy Lifestyles of Women in an Urban Pacific Island Context
Katja Siefken, Grant Schofield, and Nico Schulenkorf
The Pacific region has experienced rapid urbanization and lifestyle changes, which lead to high rates of noncommunicable disease (NCD) prevalence. There is no information on barriers and facilitators for healthy lifestyles in this region. In response, we present the first stage of a rigorous development of an urban Pacific health intervention program. This paper describes formative work conducted in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The objective of this paper was to understand cultural barriers and facilitators in Pacific women to lifestyle change and use the findings to inform future health interventions.
Semistructured focus groups with 37 female civil servants divided into 6 groups were held verbally to understand barriers and facilitators for healthy lifestyles.
Several perceived barriers and facilitators were identified. Inter alia, barriers include financial limitations, time issues, family commitments, environmental aspects, and motivational hindrances that limit time and opportunities for healthy lifestyle behavior. Facilitators include more supportive environments, social support mechanisms, and the implementation of rigorous health policies.
Formative work is essential in designing health intervention programs. Uncovered barriers and facilitators help inform the development of culturally relevant health interventions.
Sport for Social Change: Bridging the Theory–Practice Divide
Jon Welty Peachey, Nico Schulenkorf, and Ramon Spaaij
Better Late Than Never?! Five Compelling Reasons for Putting Physical Activity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries High Up on the Public Health Research Agenda
Katja Siefken, Andrea Ramirez Varela, Temo Waqanivalu, and Nico Schulenkorf
Since 2020, the world has been navigating an epidemiologic transition with both infectious diseases (COVID-19) and noncommunicable diseases intertwined in complex and diverse ways. In fact, the pandemics of physical inactivity, noncommunicable diseases, and COVID-19 coincide in a tragically impactful ménage à trois with their detrimental long-term health consequences yet to be determined. We know that people in low- and middle-income countries not only have the highest risk of developing chronic diseases, they also develop the diseases at a younger age, they suffer longer, and they die earlier than people in high-income countries. This commentary features 5 compelling reasons for putting physical activity in low- and middle-income countries high up on the public health research agenda and calls for more commitment to inclusive and context-specific public health practices that are paired with locally relevant promotion and facilitation of PA practice, research, and policymaking.
“No Idea is a Bad Idea”: Exploring the Nature of Design Thinking Alignment in an Australian Sport Organization
Greg Joachim, Nico Schulenkorf, Katie Schlenker, Stephen Frawley, and Adam Cohen
As research into sport innovation management continues to evolve, the innovation efforts of both for- and non-profit sport organizations are increasingly revealed to be focused on best serving the sport user. Design thinking—a human-centered approach to innovation—may hold promise for sport organizations attempting to identify and deliver on the unmet needs of their users. As such, we undertook a qualitative exploration of the innovation practices of a commercial sport organization, attempting to balance hybrid for- and non-profit service goals. Alignment with design thinking themes was discovered in the organization’s practice, as were performative components of design thinking practice. Our findings suggest that design thinking is suitable—and indeed desirable—for adoption into sport management practice, particularly as a means of enhancing innovation efforts, designing holistic sport experiences, and/or overcoming competing institutional demands.