From a Lucky Few to the Reluctant Many: Interrogating the Politics of Sport for All

  • Michael Gard
  • Rylee A. Dionigi
  • Claudio Dionigi


It is scarcely an insight to note that sport has historically been recruited to solve a wide range of social policy problems. However, understanding the shifting discursive resources recruited to create and frame social problems and sport’s role in solving them remains an important task for scholars. In the current Western environment, sport has been radically medicalised as a policy instrument and is emerging as a vehicle for economic growth and the management of young and older people’s behaviour. As well as describing these policy developments, we examine the grounds upon which these disparate policies appear to rest. In particular, we interrogate the empirical grounds for advocating “Sport for All age groups” and the way evidence is recruited in policy documents and initiatives. We also draw connections between the discursive rise of Sport for All and apparent declines in organised, competitive (or club) sport participation among young people. Given the declaration of sport as a human right, our interest here is in the enduringly political deployment of sport as a social policy instrument. After all, what appears to be the most important difference between past and present sport policies, and therefore the thing most worthy of explanation is their increasing discursive ambition to re-shape the lives of all citizens, regardless of age or social circumstance.



Support for the writing of this chapter was provided through a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC Grant 435-2013-0647).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Gard
    • 1
  • Rylee A. Dionigi
    • 2
  • Claudio Dionigi
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Human Movement and Nutrition SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Exercise Science, Sport and HealthCharles Sturt UniversityPort MacquarieAustralia
  3. 3.Division of Library ServicesCharles Sturt UniversityPort MacquarieAustralia

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