Pam R. Sailors
Missouri State University
Ethics and Governance in Sport is like a Swiss army knife, brilliantly designed and engineered to be of some use to almost anyone in almost any situation. Among the 28 contributors, the editors have put together an amazingly diverse collection, spanning geography (authors from 11 countries on 3 continents), discipline (sports sciences, law, sociology, sports management, economics, philosophy, and kinesiology), gender, and topic. This wide-ranging inclusivity certainly bolsters their claim that the book will be useful “for all stakeholders in the sport sector” (3), even though it means each of the chapters will be brief.
The book is organized around four aims. The editors want, first, to look at current trends in society and in sport and the consequences of those trends. Second, they want to derive from those trends forecasts of possible future developments in various aspects of sport. Next, they aim to suggest ways to resist the trends that are likely to be morally problematic and offer arguments to support the trends that are morally positive. The fourth and final aim is to have the contributing authors “attempt a conceptualization of a totally new philosophy of sport, with original ideas and concepts, and possibly less attention to specific answers to current tendencies” (2). This last aim is ambitious on its own, much less alongside the others and is more successfully reached in the first part of the book than in the following four parts.
Part one, Rethinking and implementing concepts and practices in the future of sport, contains six chapters, each of which looks to the future, in some cases predicting and in others prescribing, the conditions of various elements of sport. Some of the chapters examine general and abstract matters (e.g., integrity, Olympism); others take a narrower focus on particular problems (like gender quotas or coaching practices). The editors suggest that the lesson to be gleaned from these chapters is that “…the imagined future of sport, that could provide the best possible answer to the major challenges of sport in the twenty-first century, will involve working and reflecting on different concepts, problems, and solutions, at all levels, with short- and long-term strategies simultaneously” (217). This sounds a bit like everything about every thing in every way, a perhaps unavoidable risk when compiling a half dozen pieces from a variety of authors on such a big topic.
There are five chapters in the second part of the book, Good governance in a globalized sports world. Beginning from the position that the globalized sports world is not currently well-governed, each of the authors make proposals for how to improve that state of affairs. Specific organizations—the International Olympic Committee (IOC), World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and the National Football League (NFL)—are evaluated, along with international sport organizations (ISOs) and mega-sporting events (MSE). The outcomes of these evaluations vary, with prescriptions covering a range of possibilities from less institutional control, to following a social license model, to more centralized control through the creation of a World Sport Governance Agency (WSGA). The acronyms are especially thick in this part, so it is quite helpful that the editors have provided a 2-page list of abbreviations prior to the beginning of the text.…the screwdriver of a Swiss army knife is not sufficient for a large-scale construction project
The third part of the book, Fair (financial) management in a globalized sports world, is the most specific in its approach, with each chapter focusing on a discrete environment/issue. Case studies involving European football teams, professional road-cycling, the Sport for All movement, and sports law in the European Union, lead to a shared conclusion that traditional ways of conceptualizing financial managements issues are no longer appropriate in a changed sporting world, so innovative management models are needed to ensure (or at least more closely approach) fairness.
The shortest part of the book, with three chapters, is part four, Sport and body enhancement: ethics and possibilities. Although the title refers to “body enhancement,” doping is the more precise practice under discussion here. One of the chapters argues against doping on the grounds that it alienates athletes from the meaning of sport. Toward the conclusion that the doping issue will never be resolved so long as the focus is on enhanced ways of detecting or avoiding detection, the middle chapter offers two provocative claims. One, that athletes who dope are not always cheaters, but instead merely play the same game as their competitors, and two, that anti-doping regulators are more morally suspect than athletes who dope. The third chapter advocates for a more pragmatic approach, moving from zero-tolerance to harm reduction.
Re-conceptualizing “sport for development” is the final part of the book, with four chapters, all discussing the potential of sport to promote the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (2003) like peace and human dignity. The authors all share a skepticism toward romantic notions that development is always positive and that sport and development are always positively linked. Each chapter prescribes, some more explicitly than others, a more empirical data-driven methodology instead of reliance on descriptive studies that privilege the Global North.
At just over 200 pages, inclusive of an Introduction, Epilogue, and introductory sections to each part, each of the twenty-two chapters is brief. While this makes for a nice survey of the themes of the text, it is only a glimpse of “the future of sport” through a very wide lens. Returning to the comparison of this book to a Swiss army knife, there is much to be gained from fitting a large number of tools into a small package, but the screwdriver of a Swiss army knife is not sufficient for a large-scale construction project. The editors have not neglected to address any important issue or perspective, so this book serves its purpose of being useful for almost anyone interested in sport, but it may most profitably provide an introduction that prompts more in-depth study of one or another of the issues.
Copyright © Pam R. Sailors 2017
Table of Content
Part 1: Re-thinking and implementing concepts and practices in the future of sport
Part 2: Good governance in a globalized sports world
Part 3: Fair (financial) management in a globalized sports world
Part 4: Sport and body enhancement: ethics and possibilities introduction
Part 5: Re-conceptualizing ‘sport for development’