New working paper on sports-for-all policy

Last week I published a new working paper on public sport agencies.

To live a healthy lifestyle the World Health Organization recommends 30 minutes daily practice of sports five times a week. This ambitious recommendation comes along with the fact that developed countries in Northern America and Europe but also emerging economies like China are facing problems of widespread obesity among citizens, especially among kids. This has dramatic consequences both for individual and public health. In modern welfare states (un)healthy behavior directly links to the level public health care expenditures: Obesity among community members today means increasing expenditures to cure unhealthy lifestyle tomorrow. Society has a stake in healthy citizens; so public sport agencies administer a wide range of sport and recreation services (SRS).

Against this backdrop the working paper provides a collection and analysis of modern sports-for-all policies in Europe, North America, Australia and China. Promoting a healthy lifestyle among community members by providing easy access to sport facilities has been a traditional function of sport-for-all policies. Modern policy goals now also include promoting racial and gender equity and diversity, fighting doping, harassment and violence, in particular child abuse, and promoting tourism. Despite the different administrative contexts the implementation of policy goals heavily relies on volunteers and voluntary non-for profit organizations.

Two in-depth case studies on sport governing bodies in Germany and England exemplify common patterns in service delivery and how policy goals have shifted from maintaining sporting facilities to non-sporting objectives like job creation, stimulation of tourism and gender equity.

The paper identifies and discusses five challenges for modern sports-for-all policies: tracking the quality of public service delivery, the link between outcomes and impacts, goal ambiguity and complexity, staff size, and managing collaborations in a hyper-complex environment.

Jaekel, Tim. 2017. Modern sports-for-all policy: an international comparison of policy goals and models of service delivery. National Research University Higher School of Economics Working Paper Series: Public and Social Policy WP BRP 04/PSP/2017.

The full text of working paper BRP 04/PSP/2017 is available here: