Seven sins of omission in sport
Jens Sejer Andersen giving his keynote speech. Photo: UCN
20.09.2012By Katja Høiriis
Under the title ‘Seven Sins of Omission in Sport: Challenges to academic and journalistic research’ Jens Sejer Andersen gave his keynote presentation at the 20th EASM conference in Aalborg, Denmark. Here, Andersen called for the journalistic and academic worlds to step up and take a greater responsibility for shedding light on some issues in sport that has gone widely unchallenged. When it comes to competitions, rules and regulations are in place to make sure that we ge
Under the title ‘Seven Sins of Omission in Sport: Challenges to academic and journalistic research’ Jens Sejer Andersen gave his keynote presentation at the 20th EASM conference in Aalborg, Denmark. Here, Andersen called for the journalistic and academic worlds to step up and take a greater responsibility for shedding light on some issues in sport that has gone widely unchallenged.
When it comes to competitions, rules and regulations are in place to make sure that we get a fair result and that we reach an objective and well defined truth, but outside the sport, the search for truth is less well-defined, Andersen said: “Outside the sports field – among those of us who work as sports officials, planners, managers, observers, researchers, analysts – there are very few rules to regulate our actions and perhaps therefore it often seems that there is very little interest in establishing truth”.
Instead, Andersen argued, “sports leadership, sports management, sports journalism, even sports science – is very often driven by myths and in certain cases even by deliberate lies. Quite often, this love for mythology and misleading information goes hand in hand with an impressing ability to make money.”
Therefore, Andersen proposed that academic research can do much more to address vital issues for contemporary sport and presented a list of seven issues for further scrutiny that he argued today are largely steered by mythology and beliefs rather than the search for truth.
- With regards to “The Olympic family” and the family-structure of international federations, more research could be undertaken that could help sport “towards less family conspiracy and more transparent governance”.
- Another huge corruption issue is match-fixing and there is a need for more research into this market, which is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
- With mega-events often comes a promise of economic growth for the host country at all levels of society from tourism to employment, but little research has attempted to describe more accurately the societal impact of these events.
- The influence of mega-events on the sports culture of a country is another issue where journalists and academics ought to hold the organisers accountable to the promise – especially when the case of London showed government taking money from grass-root sport and transferred it to the Olympic organisers.
- There is also a lack of knowledge of what works if we want to mobilise people for sport. Where should the money be spent if they want increased participation. Sports policies need to be based on more data and objectivity.
- The individual athlete is often treated as a means rather than the end. Amateur athletes are forgotten in the race for medals and elite athletes are under much stricter control than the sports leaders.
- Finally, the geopolitical battle is racing in sport, and there is a great need for more university and media experts who can analyse sport from a geopolitical and socio-political perspective.
For sport to reach its own potential, it is necessary that the facts, the data and the evidence are brought to light, Andersen argued.
"Without academic analysis, without empirical data, without public debate, we risk weakening the democratic qualities of sport"
"The best service we can render if we really want sport to play a positive role in our daily lives, our communities and our world, is to do our best to establish the truth," Andersen concluded.
You can read the full presentation by Jens Sejer Andersen here