More of the same instead of qualitative leaps: a study of inertia in the Swedish sports system
2014 (English)In: European Journal for Sport and Society, ISSN 1613-8171, Vol. 11, no 3, 301-320 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Between 2007 and 2011, the Swedish government added 50 million Euro per year to the budget of the Swedish Sports Confederation (RF) for a Sports for All programme (SfA), Idrottslyftet (The Lift for Sport), with the aim of engaging more children and youth, especially those from underrepresented groups. The programme manifesto stated that all activities should be based on gender and equality perspectives and be permeated by the regular RF policy program, Idrotten vill (What sports want). In this article, we discuss mechanisms of change and inertia in the Swedish sports system by applying path dependency theory on results achieved in Idrottslyftet. Findings are based on three data sources from five National Sports Organisations (NSOs) (Swedish Budo & Martial Arts Federation, Swedish Floorball Federation, Swedish Gymnastics Federation, Swe-dish Ski Association and Swedish Sports Organisation for the Disabled); the data include their development plans, interviews with key personnel and granted project applications from sports clubs during the programme’s first and third year (N = 2,563). Overall, the study shows that when considering decisions and activities undertaken by the government, RF and the NSOs little has been done to enable change and to avoid inertia. The NSOs have mainly provided funds to applications that focus on recruiting instead of on applications with a qualitative approach focusing on changing activities for children and youth. Furthermore applications focused on only a few of the guidelines in Idrotten vill and lacked in general gender and equality perspectives. Our main conclusion is that projects carried out in sports clubs strengthen ongoing activities rather than being an engine for qualitative leaps in developing activities for engaging more children and youth. Finally, we note that path dependency theory has been a fruitful tool for analysing the results from Idrottslyftet. The theory has significantly contributed to a deeper understanding of inertia within the Swedish sports system.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 11, no 3, 301-320 p.
change, path dependency, sports for all, sports policy
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-93416OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-93416DiVA: diva2:748560