Foreign sports research models: comparative analysis

PhD, Leading researcher T.V. Dolmatova1
PhD, Senior Researcher A.V. Zubkova1
E.A. Selezneva1
E.V. Kuznetsova1
PhD, Associate Professor A.A. Baryaev2
1Federal Science Center of Physical Culture and Sport (VNIIFK), Moscow, Russia
2Saint Petersburg Research Institute of Physical Culture, Saint Petersburg

Corresponding author: tomdoctor@mail.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to analyze the best institutional models of the sports research systems facilitating success of the global sports leading nations.

Methods and structure of the study. We opted, for the purposes of the study, for an institutional analysis of the foreign sports research systems with a comparative analysis, case studies and practical experience summarizing reviews.

Results and conclusion. Our analysis of the foreign sports research experience showed the leading sports nations persistently facilitating progress of their sports science by prudent governmental policies and practices. The sports science is ranked among the priority policy sectors by the global sports leaders (including the USA, UK, Canada, China and France) that have long been ranked among the Olympic Games winners. The national sports progress and sports research concepts of these nations are still different, with the differences apparently dictated by traditions of the governmental systems and the national sports sector regulation specifics.

Based on the study data and analysis, we have grounds to conclude that the global sports research models are dominated by the following three options. As demonstrated by the success histories of the world sports leading nations, the sports research centers may operate based on major universities (France), or as Olympic training centers (USA, Canada, UK), or as specialized sports research institutes (China). It should be emphasized that the national sports research systems financing models are different as dictated by the national sports sector traditions and specifics.

Keywords: sports science, sports research institutions, elite sports

Background. It is common knowledge that modern sports science is critical for progress of the national sports since a well-designed and managed theoretical and practical support provides a sound basis for competitive successes. As far as the foreign sports research experiences are concerned, the global sports leaders acknowledge their successes being largely due to the governmental policies that put national sports high on the national list of priorities.

Objective of the study was to analyze the best institutional models of the sports research systems facilitating successes of the global sports leading nations.

Methods and structure of the study. We opted, for the purposes of the study, for an institutional analysis of the foreign sports research systems with a comparative analysis, case studies and practical experience summarizing reviews.

Results and discussion. Our analysis of the foreign sports research experience showed the leading sports nations persistently facilitating progress of their sports science by prudent governmental policies and practices. The sports science is ranked among the priority policy sectors by the global sports leaders (including the USA, UK, Canada, China and France) that have long been ranked among the Olympic Games winners. The national sports progress and sports research concepts of these nations are still different, with the differences apparently dictated by traditions of the governmental systems and the national sports sector regulation specifics.

Thus, the US sports research system, for example, is headed by the special research divisions of the National Olympic and Paralympic Committee (NOPC) located at the Olympic Sports Training Centers (OSTC) in Colorado Springs, Lake Placid and Chula Vista. Such sports research model is beneficial in many aspects since the practical support is always available in the sports elite training process, with the individual training services timely customize to the actual fitness and performance test data. Since the elite sports in the US are not legally eligible for public funding – as is the case in many other countries – in 2017 the NOPC initiated a special Sports Technologies and Innovations Fund [8]. As provided by the NOPC annual reports of 2018 and 2019, the Fund has accumulated above USD 6,700,000 and USD 7,278,000, respectively [9].

The Canadian sports research model is totally different as it may be described as a network of Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sports Institutes (COPSI) [4] including seven academic institutions, four of which are located at the Sports Training Centers in the provinces of Calgary, Montreal, Ontario and British Columbia; and the remaining three serve the Multisport Centers in the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Atlantic Canada [10]. In contrast to the US system, these sports research establishments are funded by the federal budget through the Sports Canada Agency on applications from the Seize the Pedestal organization [7].

The sports research system in the UK is somewhat similar to the Canadian one with the only difference that the Canadian sports research centers are relatively independent and specialized whilst their theoretical, practical and biomedical support service to the UK sports is headed by the English Institute of Sport (EIS) [3]. The EIS mission is to provide practical support to the sports elite by special sports research services with modern biomechanics research, dieting and rehabilitation recommendations, and the individual training system design and management service for competitive success.

The French sports research model is different from the above. The national sports science is controlled by National Institute of Sports (INSEP) reporting to the national Ministry of Sports [5]. Since 2009, the INSEP is ranked both the leading sports university and the key national sports research center responsible for the national sports elite training for successes in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Many French sports federations closely cooperate with the INSEP based on the long-term cooperation contracts. The key divisions of the INSEP are the Sports, Expertise and Performance (SEP) Laboratory and the Institute for Biomedical and Epidemiological Research in Sports (IRMES), which mission is to provide theoretical, practical and biomedical support to the sports elite including qualifiers for the Olympic and Paralympic national teams. For the last few years, the SEP Lab and IRMES have been closely testing and monitoring fitness and performance of the national sports elite [10].

The Chinese sports research model is also different. It was back in 1958 that the China Institute of Sport Science (CISS) was established in Beijing as the leading national sports research center [2]. The CISS is similar to the French INSEP in the sense that it reports the relevant government agency – the General Governmental Directorate for Sports in the case. The only difference is that this governmental agency has no academic division, and its core mission is to facilitate the fundamental and practical research in the national sports science and sports technologies for progress of the Chinese sports elite on the global arenas. 

Conclusion. Based on the study data and analysis, we have grounds to conclude that the global sports research models are dominated by the following three options. As demonstrated by the success histories of the world sports leading nations, the sports research centers may operate based on major universities (France), or as Olympic training centers (USA, Canada, UK), or as specialized sports research institutes (China). It should be emphasized that the national sports research systems financing models are different as dictated by the national sports sector traditions and specifics.

The study was designed to contribute to the ongoing research on the State Order for the Federal Science Center of Physical Culture and Sport (VNIIFK).

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