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Jens De Rycke, Veerle De Bosscher, Hiroaki Funahashi and Popi Sotiriadou

Competition for medals at international stages is increasing, and many nations have adopted strategic approaches toward sporting success. Over time, this commitment has resulted in snowballing amounts of money invested in elite sport 1 development by many nations ( De Bosscher, Shibli, Westerbeek

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Astrid Schubring and Ansgar Thiel

Growing up in elite sport represents a challenging project. Young athletes must negotiate a career-defining transitional period while in the midst of adolescence. In this context, notably, the growth process can lead to health problems such as overloading and injuries. In this article, we investigate how adolescent elite athletes cope with problematic growth experiences. Taking a Bourdieusian perspective, we consider coping to be a socioculturally-located practice. Drawing on qualitative interviews and participant observation in German elite sport, our conversational analysis reveals five typical coping strategies among young athletes: (a) distancing, (b) rationalization, (c) active agency, (d) self-disciplining, and (e) responsibility transfer. We reflect on the health-compromising side effects of these strategies as well as the implications for the sporting community’s handling of growth problems.

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Liam J.A. Lenten, Aaron C.T. Smith and Ralph-Christopher Bayer

Performance-enhancing substance(s) (PES) use in elite sport has become so endemic that a global law enforcement body was established by International Olympic Committee (IOC) administrators to monitor its use and prosecute athlete transgressors. As established in 1999, the World Anti-Doping Agency

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Pål Augestad, Nils Asle Bergsgard and Atle Ø. Hansen

In this article, we argue that neoinstitutional theory can increase our understanding of the different ways nations develop structures for top-level sport. Theorists of the neoinstitutional school concentrate on how and to what degree organizations adapt to both formal and informal expectations in their institutional environment. Elite sports organizations participate in different organizational fields, and that pulls the organization in different directions. The empirical case for our discussion is the organization of elite sport in Norway. We will attempt to place elite sport in Norway in an international context by relating its development, structure, and working procedures to the development of corresponding elite sport systems in other Western countries. In addition to striking similarities among various national models for the organization of top-level sport, there are distinguishing national features that result from different cultural and political traditions.

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Christopher L. Stevenson

One underreported issue in the research on Christian athletes has been the difficulties these athletes experience in living with the demands and expectations of the dominant culture of elite, competitive sport. Data were derived from in-depth interviews with 31 elite athletes (23 males and 8 females), who were also professing Christians and associated with the evangelical organization, Athletes-in-Action. The athletes reported that it was by turning to or returning to an evangelical Christian faith that they were better able to cope with their problems and with the demands of the culture of elite, competitive sport. Discussion of these findings included a consideration of Coakley’s (1994) model “of conflict, doubt, and resolution,” which attempts to represent the conflicts experienced by Christian athletes in elite sport, and the approaches they take to assuage these conflicts.

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Mick Green

This article analyzes government and quasigovernmental agencies’ use of “planning dictates” in relationships with national sporting organizations (NSOs) in Canada and national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport in the United Kingdom (UK). Attention is drawn to the asymmetries of power contouring elite sport policy developments in both countries that, though unobservable in an empirical sense, nonetheless warrant investigation. The analysis draws on semistructured, in-depth interviews with key personnel in three Canadian NSOs and three UK NGBs in swimming, athletics, and sailing; senior officials at Sport Canada and UK Sport; and sport-policy analysts and academics. Although Canadian NSOs have been subject to such planning dictates for the past 20 to 30 years, the requirement for UK NGBs to comply in this way have only emerged since the mid-1990s. Accordingly, the article concludes with suggestions for further research in the UK.

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Jasper Truyens, Veerle De Bosscher and Popi Sotiriadou

Research on elite sport policy tends to focus on the policy factors that can influence success. Even though policies drive the management of organizational resources, the organizational capacity of countries in specific sports to allocate resources remains unclear. This paper identifies and evaluates the organizational capacity of five sport systems in athletics (Belgium [separated into Flanders and Wallonia], Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands). Organizational capacity was evaluated using the organizational resources and first-order capabilities framework (Truyens, De Bosscher, Heyndels, & Westerbeek, 2014). Composite indicators and a configuration analysis were used to collect and analyze data from a questionnaire and documents. The participating sport systems demonstrate diverse resource configurations, especially in relation to program centralization, athlete development, and funding prioritization. The findings have implications for high performance managers’ and policy makers’ approach to strategic management and planning for organizational resources in elite sport.

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Veerle De Bosscher, Simon Shibli, Maarten van Bottenburg, Paul De Knop and Jasper Truyens

This article aims to make a contribution to comparative sport research and details a method for comparing nations’ elite sport systems less descriptively by measuring and comparing determinants of national competitiveness quantitatively. A mixed methods exploratory sequential design is used, consisting of two distinct phases. After qualitative exploration, a conceptual model was developed, revealing that there are nine sport policy dimensions or ‘pillars’ that are important for international sporting success. This article focuses on a second quantitative phase, where the model was tested in a pilot study with six sample nations to develop a scoring system. Data from each nation were collected through an overall sport policy questionnaire completed in each country, and through a survey with the main stakeholders in elite sport, namely athletes (n = 1090), coaches (n = 253), and performance directors (n = 71). Reflecting recognized principles of economic competitiveness measurement, this article demonstrates how 103 critical success factors containing quantitative and qualitative data can be aggregated into a final percentage score for the sample nations on each pillar. The findings suggest that the method is a useful way for objective comparison of nations, but it should not be isolated from qualitative descriptions and from a broader understanding of elite sport systems.

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Rachel Arnold, David Fletcher and Jennifer A. Hobson

athletes and their teammates. As leadership and management are highly contextual in nature (cf.  Avolio, 2007 ; Osborn, Hunt, & Jauch, 2002 ), we explore the elite sport context because previous work has concluded that “the way individuals are led and managed will become an increasingly important factor

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Mathew Dowling and Jimmy Smith

This investigation examined how Own the Podium (OTP) has contributed to the ongoing development of highperformance sport in Canada. In adopting an institutional work perspective, we contend that OTP’s continuance has not been the sole product of Canada’s success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games or lobbying efforts to secure additional funding. Rather, OTP’s permanence can also be explained as the by-product of the activities and actions of OTP itself and its supporting stakeholders to embed and institutionalize both the organization specifically and high-performance sport more generally in the Canadian sport landscape. In short, OTP’s continued existence can, in part, be explained by ongoing institutional work. To support our contentions, we draw on and analyze documentation that was either produced by, or significant to the development of, OTP. Our analysis identifies a number of OTP-related practices (e.g., tiering, hiring of high-performance advisors, and the creation and support of new high-performance sport programs) that have further institutionalized OTP and the norms, routines, and practices associated with high-performance sport. More broadly, our investigation draws attention to the importance of individual and collective actors in shaping institutional settings in sport.