Conference themes

The themes chosen for Play the Game 2007 reflect some of the major issues in sports today and will make for a challenging and rewarding conference for all participants. However, we have also decided to hold an open forum, where important issues that lie outside these themes can also be discussed.

The main themes are:

  •  The autonomy of sport: Threat or promise?
  •  Children in sport: Love or labour?
  •  Mega-events: Frontrunners for sports globalisation?
  •  Chasing clients or providers: Anti-doping at a crossroad
  •  The digital battle: Sport on demand versus the demands of sport
  •  Open Forum  



The autonomy of sport: Threat or promise?

Can sport fight alone against match fixing, corruption, trafficking, illegal agents, capital power and other threats to the credibility of sport? Or does it need the help of governments and the public?

UEFA and the EU have worked closely together for some time, and the EU White Paper is expected with anticipation. Play the Game will analyse the EU engagement in sport and see how fans and financiers fight for control over football clubs.

The conference will investigate to find the limit between the right of civil society to govern itself and the right of public authorities to fight corruption and crime in every sector of society.

In line with its commitment over its 10 years of existence, Play the Game will present a series of leading anti-corruption activists in international sport to give you the latest update about the fight against mismanagement and corruption.



Children in sport: Love or labour?

Though the member states of the United Nations unanimously stress the right of children to play and exercise, millions of children are deprived of this right. Some paradoxically because they must work all day to produce shoes, clothing, balls and equipment for other children’s sporting activities and the insatiable world market for sports consumer goods. Should sport take more interest in the way the sports industry – and sports sponsors - earn their money?

Child labour does also exist within sport itself, with some children trained excessively at a very young age or taken away from their families for training in work-camp-like conditions.

Where is the limit between fun-driven ambitions and gross exploitation? How can sports organisations and governments ensure every child’s right to play? And how can the daily sports activities best be arranged to stimulate a balanced personal, social, cultural and healthy development of the child?

Grass-roots sports leaders worldwide work under miserable conditions to create hope in communities torn apart by poverty, war and discrimination. If a physically and socially fit youth is so important for society, why do governments ignore it while investing fortunes in top sport? 


Mega-events: Frontrunners for sports globalisation?

Across the globe, cities rush to host events of any scale. Mega-cities go, of course, for mega-events and invest billions of dollars in competing to host Olympic Games, World Championships and other prestigious sports events. Mega-events are also a stage on which emerging countries and continents can exhibit their desires to be seen and heard, breaking old power patterns in sport and high politics.

Is this quest for fame based upon emotions or facts? Do mega-events generate development for cities or waste the taxpayers’ money? What can be done to minimise risks and maximise benefits of hosting games – and of the campaigns to get them? Are mega-events really driving progress in society and serving as frontrunners for a true globalisation of sport?



Chasing clients or providers: Anti-doping at a crossroad

Behind every individual doper lies a system of manufacturers, middlemen and sellers. Mostly the sports drug networks operate illegally, capitalising on a market that according to Interpol exceeds the market for heroin, cocaine and marihuana put together. The boys and girls next door represent much more total spending power than a narrow group of elite athletes. Sports drugs have become a public health problem.

Play the Game was the first forum to launch this problem internationally, and WADA now follows up with serious warnings to public authorities worldwide. Will governments get the wake-up call? And is the sports movement ready to chase down the doctors, physiotherapists and its own officials in the doping network?

Only two weeks after the Play the Game conference, sports and government delegates from the whole world will gather in Madrid to revise the global anti-doping rules. The IOC member Richard W. Pound will give Play the Game-delegates a personal evaluation of his eight years at the WADA helm.

Play the Game also warms up to the summit in Madrid with presentations by top executives from WADA and leading analysts who will set out the major questions at stake and discuss the consequences of the changes in rules and leadership.

Special attention will be given to cycling, which has been so affected by doping scandals that there are fears about cycling’s future as an Olympic sport.



The digital battle: Sport on demand versus the demands of sport

New communication tools have changed our daily lives and are about to change the reality of sport. Computerised sport is a direct threat to sport in flesh and blood, and traditional television is being challenged as the predominant source of income by digitalised TV, match streaming on the Internet and highlight clippings on your mobile phone.

Media rights holders resort to prohibiting athletes from blogging and sending SMS messages at certain events. But in the long run, is it possible to draw borderlines in an ocean of digital communication?

For smaller sports, online broadcasting may be the most direct route to their niche audiences, and the communication technologies open a potential for renewing story-telling and networking.

How can academics, journalists, soccer fans and other stakeholders better influence the sports agenda? Can blogs, SMS chains, chat forums and news groups really make a difference?

Play the Game will explore the economic and political potential of modern communication technology.



Open Forum

Did we miss a major issue that will influence the future of sport? Do you have a research project, a set of thoughts or personal experiences that do not fit into any of these themes? Then we invite you join the Open Forum at Play the Game 2007.

Your suggestion will be considered by the programme committee and if accepted, given at least a 10 minutes’ slot for oral presentation.

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