Effect of a Role Model Success in Sports: Analytical Essay

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Introduction

Changes in a countries policy priority is known to change frequently. The United Kingdoms has shifted from a ‘get everyone involved’ ideology to an elite-level focus through the past 30 years (Green. 2004). However, even though this is highlighted by Green, the reason for countries to invest into elite sport still remains unidentified to many. There is no doubt that sport can universally be acknowledged as a positive activity for anyone, however when a total of £266.5 million is being invested into the UK elite athletes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, then there requires more justification then just that( see all figures at UK sport (2018)). This essay will attempt to give reasoning to this question by stating and developing the 4 main reasons why countries invest into the elite-level sport, it is important to note that these reasons often overlap. These 4 reasons will consist of: (1) develop the countries international prestige, (2) develop mass participation within sport, (3) generate sports role models and (4) host/perform at sporting mega-events. Each reason backed with academic literature, while explaining the impacts of those reasons.

International prestige

There is currently an ideology that sporting success has the ability to make a country stand out from the rest. There is no example more effective than the one of East Germany. They obviously developed a poor image from the events that took place during World War 2, however through the use of sporting success they were able to separate themselves from West Germany. This was done by improving there medal tally from 7 medals in the 1956 Olympics (as one Germany) to producing 103 medals at the 1988 Olympics (independent from West Germany). The medal table acts as a measurement of a countries sporting ability, for many countries (such as the UK) performing well in the medal table takes priority over demonstrating effective political techniques (Bloyce and Smith.2010). Performing well on the medals table is believed to improve the image of that country. However, literature evidence suggests that the

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Introduction

Changes in a countries policy priority is known to change frequently. The United Kingdoms has shifted from a ‘get everyone involved’ ideology to an elite-level focus through the past 30 years (Green. 2004). However, even though this is highlighted by Green, the reason for countries to invest into elite sport still remains unidentified to many. There is no doubt that sport can universally be acknowledged as a positive activity for anyone, however when a total of £266.5 million is being invested into the UK elite athletes for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, then there requires more justification then just that( see all figures at UK sport (2018)). This essay will attempt to give reasoning to this question by stating and developing the 4 main reasons why countries invest into elite-level sport, it is important to note that these reasons often overlap. These 4 reasons will consist of: (1) develop the countries international prestige, (2) develop mass participation within sport, (3) generate sports role models and (4) host/perform at sporting mega-events. Each reason backed with academic literature, while explaining the impacts of those reasons.

International prestige

There is currently an ideology that sporting success has the ability to make a country stand out from the rest. There is no example more effective than the one of East Germany. They obviously developed a poor image from the events that took place during World War 2, however through the use of sporting success they were able to separate themselves from West Germany. This was done by improving there medal tally from 7 medals in the 1956 Olympics (as one Germany) to producing 103 medals at the 1988 Olympics (independent from West Germany). The medal table acts as a measurement of a countries sporting ability, for many countries (such as the UK) performing well in the medal table takes priority over demonstrating effective political techniques (Bloyce and Smith.2010). Performing well on the medals table is believed to improve the image of that country. However, literature evidence suggests that the relationship between success on the elite level and the country’s image isn’t as simplistic as that (Bergsgard et al. 2007). The investment into hosting an event has been seen to improve the image of the country; however this effect mainly occurs when it’s a country that has a poor image when they begin hosting. A recent example of this could be with Russia hosting the 2018 World Cup. With many sexuality discrimination incidence and general football fan incidence prior to the world cup, Russia was portrayed in a negative way by the rest of the world. However, the country managed to produce an incident-free world cup and now the reputation of Russia has drastically increased. The same way it occurred for both West Germany and South Africa in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

Mass participation

Currently, in the UK there is a devotion to improve the success of the country at an elite level. It is widely accepted that an improvement in a countries success will also result in an increase in sport participation (Stewart et al. 2005). This is highlighted after the successful 2008 Olympics, which resulted in the UK finishing 4th and earning 47 medals. The CEO of UK sport at that current time stated “the result will hopefully be a more inspired, active and healthy nation” (UK sport. 2008, cited by Grix et al (2012)). Elite sport investment will normally be justified by stating that when a country succeeds in a sport, that sport will see an increase in participation and develops a “feel good factor” for the country. However, as it is highlighted throughout this essay. It is difficult to prove this statement with the evidence that is currently available. Obviously, there is the argument that elite-level athletes can encourage beginners to develop their talents; however, the biggest impact comes from an athlete that is creative within their sport. This meaning the athlete is able to bring something new to their sport (Eisenberg.2006). These types of athletes seem to have a larger effect on the spectator interest into the sport, and the success of these athletes can encourage specific groups of the population of the country. An example of this is the uprising of Tiger Woods. This not only increased interest in golf as a whole but also increased the number African-Americans that engaged with the sport. One of the major factors that need to be asked is whether the levels of participation in a sport are maintained long-term. There is little evidence to suggest that this is the case, with a report conducted by Sports Canada concluding that there is minimal evidence to suggest there is any relationship between observing elite level sport and developing good sporting habits (Bloom et al, 2006).

Two of the key reasons that a country want to increase the sporting participation is to create a ‘feel-good factor’ and develop healthy habits for their population. One of the problems with the ‘feel-good factor’ is that is difficult to identify and therefore it is near impossible to test. However, even though there is a lack of evidence to prove its existence, doesn’t mean it can be ignored. An example that took place recently was the England football national team reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup. The spectators began to see positive results throughout the event and gradually began to believe the team could succeed, even going to the stage of resurrecting an old song that suggested that England were going to be victorious. Getting the population to Develop good sporting habits is crucial for the government because increasing the health of the population will reduce the pressure on the National Health Service (Sport England. 2006). There is significant evidence that suggests that an increase in physical activity will also result in an improvement of the health of the individual (Oughton and Tacon 2006). Also, evidence suggests that a lack of physical activity will increase the risk of developing dangerous diseases (Gratton and Taylor. 2005). There are also benefits for the individual through improving their sporting habits. Obviously, there are the physical benefits of improved health and wellbeing; but also an economic benefit of having to pay less for healthcare they require (Wang et al. 2005).

Role models

There is a limited amount of literature evidence to identify the relationship between the performance of an elite performer and the participation of the population in sport (Lyle. 2009). Lyle (2009) then went on to state that the effect of a role model success is likely to be greater in encouraging current participants of the sport then developing new participants. However, even though there isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest that there is a positive relationship between role models success and mass participation, it is still widely accepted by many to be true. An example of this could be the report on Drugs and Role Models in Sport (2004) which suggested that sporting role models “promote highly laudable examples and values in terms of elite sporting achievement, the general benefits of sporting participation and other personal development goals” (Culture, Media and Sport Committee.2004 cited by Grix et al (2012)). However, one of the main issues of this is highlighted by Hindson et al (1994), suggesting that the sporting performances demonstrated by an elite-level athlete could also have a negative impact on mass participation within the sport. This is due to newcomers to the sport believing they don’t have the required skill to become competent in the sport. Some forms of Anecdotal evidence have suggested that people can become inspired by viewing successful moments of athletes. However, this is often people who already have some engagement in the sport.

Mega-events

A longstanding hypothesis is that a country will see significant increases in sport after the hosting of a mega-event. This was the main objective when the UK decided to host the 2012 Olympics. However, research has still not been able to prove that there is a positive relationship between hosting a mega-event and participation in sport. A number of reports have suggested that there wasn’t a noticeable increase in participation of sport after hosting a mega-event (Vigor et al. 2004, Coalter. 2004). Also, the London East Research Institute (2007) stated that it is difficult to measure the effects of hosting a mega-event and there is a clear lack of reliable methods of measuring the outcomes. Weed et al. (2009) stated that sporting events is just one factor in a large number of factors that affect the participation in sport. Therefore, it is impossible to pinpoint the impact of events without a deeper understanding of all the factors. Weed et al. (2009) then went on to suggest that possibly the largest effect of a mega-event would be an increase in repetition from the population that already participate in the sport rather than bring new participants into the sport. Governments have suggested that success in an elite sport at a mega-event could generate numerous social benefits. Some examples of this are; success for an individual/team in a specific sport could boost the population interest in that sport and therefore increase the participation within that sport and success for a nation could develop a ‘feel-good factor’ which would improve both the morale and prestige of the country. This as a result would have a positive impact on the economy of that country (Coe. 1985).

Conclusion

To conclude, it is clear to see that the reason countries invest so much money into elite-level sport is because there is a wide belief that success on an international level will boost the participation of sport in the population. This is crucial for generally two reasons. Firstly, it develops a ‘feel-good factor’ in the country, when a country performs well at a major sporting event; they then feel better about the country as a whole. The big problem with this is ‘feel-good factor’ is difficult to measure and therefore there currently isn’t any significant literature evidence to suggest that this effect takes place. Secondly, improving the activity of the country will reduce the pressure on the NHS, because regular sporting participation is proven to give numerous health benefits (Oughton and Tacon.2006). These are believed to be achieved through generating role models and investing in mega-events. However, research has shown that there is little evidence to back up either of these improving sporting populations (Lyle. 2009 (role models), Vigor et al. 2004(mega-events)) Therefore, the government are basing their investment decisions on an obvious hypothesis that has no evidence backing it. The only effective reason for investing into elite-level sport that has evidence to back it up is developing the image of the country. With this normally only being effective when the country has a bad image at the start of a mega-event.

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Effect of a Role Model Success in Sports: Analytical Essay. (2022, August 12). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/effect-of-a-role-model-success-in-sports-analytical-essay/
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