Pam R. Sailors
Missouri State University
This title in Routledge’s “Sport in the Global Society: Contemporary Issues” series contains an introduction by the editors and eight chapters, all originally published as a special issue of the Sport in Society journal in 2018. The overarching theme of the work is an investigation of how sport administrators should negotiate the seeming incompatibility of sport as a commercial enterprise and sport as a means for transmission of the morally valuable. The chapters are of two sorts: those that address sport governance and decision-making in general, and those that examine concrete issues of governance in specific cases.
The first four chapters are the more general, beginning with “Beyond governance: the need to improve the regulation of international sport” by Jean-Loup Chappelet, who argues for an international framework that combines private corporate governance with public democratic governance in international treaties. Chappelet makes a persuasive case for this structure as more effective at addressing issues of corruption than the current model of individual independent governing bodies.
David Hassan follows with the interesting argument that “new” nation-states (e.g., Belarus, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Qatar) pursuing bids to host mega-events should not be awarded those events if they have a disturbing record of unconcern for human rights because doing so would provide legitimacy to those morally problematic practices. Hassan’s “Sport and politics in a complex age” concludes with this negative judgment regarding bid awarding, while the following chapter, “Sport mega-events, the ‘non-West’ and the ethics of event hosting,” by Suzanne Dowse and Thomas Fletcher, makes the positive case for awarding mega-events to developing countries, even though the countries may have fragile infrastructures. Dowse and Fletcher arrive at this conclusion because they believe that withholding the events, in a procedure akin to neocolonialism, only exacerbates the problems in developing countries. It would be better, they argue, to provide more adequate support to developing countries to facilitate successful outcomes.
The final chapter considering general questions of sport governance, “Gulf autocrats and sports corruption: a marriage made in heaven,” by James Dorsey, examines the FIFA scandals and countries like Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait. Dorsey suggests that Gulf autocrats and sports bureaucrats preserve the myth that sport and politics are separate because both sides benefit from the ensuing political and economic profits.Perhaps because I am a philosopher trained in ethics, it seems to me that resolution of the problems addressed here will require an overhaul of the values of all stakeholders.
Moving to sport governance in specific issues, “Towards responsible policy-making in international sport: reforming the medical-scientific commissions,” by Bruce Kidd, is highly critical of the decisions regarding hyperandrogenism made by the medical commissions of the International Association of Athletics Foundation (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Kidd criticizes the commissions for implementing policy based on insufficient scientific evidence regarding endogenous testosterone and athletic performance, for inviting no comment from external scientists, ethicists, or athletes, and for violating the human rights of female athletes possessing naturally high testosterone levels. As a solution, at least in part, Kidd argues for transparency, shared decision-making, and an adoption of the World Health Organization’s policies on sport and human rights.
In “Canada 2015: perceptions and experiences of the organisation and governance of the Women’s World Cup,” Carrie Dunn looks at fan dissatisfaction with the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Fans were critical of the lack of publicity, sparse media coverage, poor site selection and match scheduling, and the hyper-feminized mascot. Overall, Dunn finds evidence of sexism and misogyny and suggests that ameliorating these twin evils in women’s football could have some positive effect on the same in the larger society.
Seamus Kelly and Dikaia Chatziefstathiou take the next chapter, “‘Trust me I am a Football Agent’. The discursive practices of the players’ agents in (un)professional football,” to show that the 2015 FIFA deregulation of football agents led to allegations of unethical and illegal practices by agents. As the authors see it, FIFA’s failure and subsequent abdication of regulation, gives reason to believe the unethical actions will only get worse.
The final chapter, “Motorsport volunteerism: a form of social contract?,” by David Hassan and Chris Harding, looks at sport volunteerism, specifically in the environment of motorsport. As Hassan and Harding note, sporting events rely for their success on volunteers and the economic impact of the service they provide. The authors examine the parties to this relationship—sport organizers and volunteers—and suggest this is an example of social contract theory in practice. They also investigate psychological contracts (individuals’ beliefs about the nature and conditions of reciprocity) and conclude that it is important to expand our understanding of volunteer motivation.
The book succeeds in raising awareness of the complexity of sports governance and how it is instantiated in illustrative issues. For my own part, I was left with a great degree of skepticism regarding the potential for improvement. Perhaps because I am a philosopher trained in ethics, it seems to me that resolution of the problems addressed here will require an overhaul of the values of all stakeholders. How to accomplish this overhaul could be the topic for another volume…or several.
Copyright © Pam R. Sailors 2019
Table of Content
Introduction: ethical concerns in sport governance