The integrative role of sport
Sport participation, and in particular organized sports, is an important socializing agent because of the large number of participants that are attracted (Bailey 2005). As such, sports may be a viable vehicle for smoothing social and cultural barriers because they bring together individuals from different backgrounds. Given the multicultural character of contemporary societies, sport may have a significant integrative role for the promotion of social and cultural interaction. Nevertheless, sport participation is not by itself an effective means towards the goal of social integration. Sport can also be a source reinforcing existing differences, as individuals may seek not to socialize with other ‘group’ members, finding shelter in groups of similar ethnic/cultural background, and strengthening their identity (Krouwel, Boonstra, Duyvendak, & Veldboer, 2006). Despite its intuitive appeal the integrative potential of sport has remained unexplored.
The project includes five European countries (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain and the UK) and examines whether sport participation has a social role in shaping ethnic and cultural identity in young athletes across Europe. Furthermore, it aims at identifying sport factors that may help enhance integration in multicultural societies (e.g. coaching behavior, group cohesion, motivational climate).
FEPSAC: European Federation of Sport Psychology (www.fepsac.com)
Anne-Marie Elbe, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Marie-Louise Trier Hauge, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis (University of Thessaly, Greece)
Xavier Sanchez (University of Groningen, Netherlands)
Francis Ries (University of Seville, Spain)
Olga Kouli (Democritus University of Thrace, Greece)