18 SES 10 A, Issues and Controversies in Sport and Physical Education
There is a growing body of research concerning children’s rights and child protection in sport. In an attempt to give a larger picture of the ethical issues surrounding youth’s engagement in sport from a human rights perspective, David (2005) broke new and important ground. His book Human Rights in Youth Sport: A critical review of children's rights in competitive sport demonstrates that human rights and competitive sport are closely interwoven, despite the fact that, as David himself says, “they have ignored each other for decades” (David, 2005, p.3).
According to the United Nations, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse (1989). It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor helpless objects of charity. They are human beings, and as human beings have their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development.
The CRC does not say anything explicit about sport, although researchers maintain that most of its substantive 42 articles have a bearing on children's participation in sport. According to Donnelly and Petherick (2004), who have conducted extensive studies of children's rights in sport, this is not always the case. Instead, they argue that children’s rights are violated in many of the countries that organize sport for children. They believe that violations occur, occasionally or routinely and directly and indirectly, in about half of the 40 articles of the Convention. In view of this, which rights are not being met and what kind of problems can affect children's sport?
Research acknowledges the role of overtraining, sexual abuse, burnout, dropout and the exploitation of child athletes, e.g. the trafficking of young male football players. These issues have prompted a number of academics, concerned parents and former athletes to speak out against severe training regimes and to call for investigations into the balance between individual rights and adult and state responsibilities in sport. In short, the issue is whether children and young people are regarded as athletes first and children second in the sporting context.
In Sweden most children begin with organized sport around 6-7 years of age and many clubs tend to make children specialize in one sport at an early age. Seriousness seems to pervade the activity even fort he youngest participants. Many are critical of what is termed"early specialization",i.e.children who focus on only one sport before their teenage years. Earlys pecialization is also associated with a greater severity – and with early selection. In this study I will scrutinize the mechanisms of early selection. How does it affects children who belong to the ones not selected? How do they feel about themselves and how do they feel about sport? The aim is to gain more knowledge about the selection processes in children’s sport and the consequences for the ones not chosen.
David, P. (2005). Human Rights in Youth Sport: a critical review of children’s rights in competitive sports. London and New York: Routledge. Donnelly, P. & Petherick, L. (2004) Workers’ Playtime? Child Labour at the Extremes of the Sporting Spectrum, Sport in society, 7(3): 301-321. United Nations (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child, UN General Assembly resolution 44/25 on 20 November 1989, New York: UN.
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