Values-based reference points for modern sports


Dr.Sc.Pol., Associate Professor N.Yu. Markushina1
Dr.Sc.Pol., Associate Professor О.L. Tserpitskaya1
PhD, Associate Professor Yu.S. Kuzmin1
PhD N.G. Zaslavskaya1
1St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg

Keywords: values-based reference points, sport spirit, Olympic movement, Paralympic movement.

Background. Public attitudes to modern sports are being reformed with time in the context of the new trends in the global policies. The global sport movement is being increasingly commercialized to cater for interests of new fan subcultures, with many aspects of the global sports being vulnerable and yielding to political pressures, whilst the Olympic Games are increasingly considered an important element of soft power and influence by some nations [1]. However, the modern trends in the sport ethics and morale need to be given a higher priority since sport researchers and analysts concentrate their athletic effectiveness improvement efforts to shape a ‘winner model’ rather than ethical ones [6]. Some researchers of the human capital progress on the sport markets and global financial markets believe that ‘we can learn much from the financial sector operations for the case studies and findings in the modern sport world, particularly in the individual and team effectiveness related issues’ [7].

Therefore, there are reasons to believe that modern sports are increasingly predictable and vulnerable to manipulations with the human consciousness. People tend to increasingly expect big shows from sport events, with the athletes and coaches forced to win at any cost – that may be the prime reason for the doping related issues [1, 3, 4]. It is not unlikely that it is due to these modern negative developments that the global sport communities are now split up into two camps after many Russian athletes were qualified for the 2016 Olympics whilst the Russian paralympians were unfairly barred from them. If we leave apart the political aspects of the problem, the question remains why the global sport communities allowed it happen. It may well be that the causes and effects of these negative developments may be found in the values system of the modern sports for all and for disabled people in particular.

Objective of the study was to analyze the existing situation with the global Paralympic sports in the context of the western viewpoint on Russian sports.

Study results and discussion. It should be noted first that what is now referred to as ‘competitive spirit’ can unlikely be considered a top value of the Paralympic sports. The conceptual grounds for the sports for disabled people are provided by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that is largely driven by the philosophical and ethical considerations in its policies and practices; with the social rehabilitation recognized and ranked the top value of the modern Paralympic movement. It is also undisputable that a prime condition for any social rehabilitation effort is the non-discriminatory attitude to every disabled person to ensure that this group is given an equal and fair access to every relevant social service including access to sport events.

It should be confessed that the efforts to include disabled athletes into the sport movement have been quite successful on the regional levels on the whole and European level in particular, with Europe leading in the disability sports institutionalization process – that means that it has established multiple international institutions to cater for the interests of this social group, with the Council of Europe and European Union being in the lead of the initiatives. Despite the fact that the Council of Europe is still expected to offer its action plan for the period since 2016, the ‘Council of Europe Disability Action Plan for 2006-2015’ clearly states that the ‘fundamental goal of the Action Plan is to help member states reinforce anti-discriminatory and human rights measures to enhance equal opportunities and independence of people with disabilities and guarantee their freedom of choice, full citizenship, active participation in the life of the community and improve their quality of life’ as dictated by the European disability policies for the decade [2]. It should be mentioned that Russia is a member state of this institution which policies are geared to support the national policies by providing ‘a flexible framework for political decision-makers that can and should be adapted to and by every country, taking into account its specific conditions’ [2].

Europeans call this document ‘a tailor-made roadmap’ for political decision-makers to help them ‘develop, adapt and adjust their policies and implement relevant plans, programs and innovative strategies. The Council of Europe with strive to implement the Disability Action Plan by providing support to the Member States in form of recommendations, consulting and expert information’ [2].

The idea of social rehabilitation and integration of the people with disabilities by means of physical education is well addressed by the Council of Europe in the above document. It is important to emphasize that the document provides a framework for services to the people with disabilities applicable to many members of the European integration process, and this is a very advantageous approach in many aspects.

In October, 2005, upon the successful completion of the EYES year, the first European meeting of experts on the issues of sports and disabled people ‘urged the Member States of the European Union for exchange of the most successful practices to engage the people with disabilities into physical activity’ [8]. They proposed to ‘prioritize these actions in the national polices to ensure the sports for disabled people to be wider applied to improve their employment opportunities and provide the instruments for their inclusion in the social life’ [8].

One more important step was the White Paper on Sport approved in July 2007 that classified the priority actions into three fields, with a special respect given to the social role of these sports ranked among the top priorities by the European Union. The Action Plan in the White Paper on Sport provided that ‘the European Commission furthermore encourages Member States and sport organizations to adapt sport infrastructure to take into account the needs of people with disabilities’. [9]. The Council of Europe mentions, however, that despite the fact that according to the national statistics only 10% of the EU population have some physical disabilities, their needs are still poorly addressed by the existing legal framework [8].

This was the reason for the European Paralympic Committee (EPC) application to the Council of Europe urging the latter to:

‑ Oppose any form of discrimination and secure equal opportunities in sports;

‑ Support the relevant European sport institutions in need;

‑ Give a special priority in the EU policies to those thrusts in education, youth policies, culture, social and employment policies and practices that could be instrumental for the social adaptation of disabled people [8].

It was in September 2008 that the European Commission and European Paralympic Committee signed the European Paralympic Committee Support Declaration intended to advance the social rehabilitation of disabled people by sports. Actions under the Declaration were supported by the large-scale grant financing programs including the two-year grant for the ‘Paralympic sport infrastructure development in Europe’ [8]. These initiatives and actions show the respect of the European decision-makers to the Paralympic sports viewed as one of the priority forms of social activity for the people with disabilities.

In 2011 the European Commission came up with the official report ‘Advancing the European dimension in sports’ once again stressing the great social role of the modern sport policies and the high priority given to the equal opportunities for the people with disabilities in sports [5].

Conclusion. Analysis of the existing situation with the global Paralympic sports in the context of the western viewpoint on the Russian sports shows that the political contradictions of the West on the whole and EU in particular with Russia made the Paralympians most vulnerable to the dirty politicking in global sports, and these negative trends can be well understood knowing the evolution of the values system the world over. In the middle of this political crisis our nation has no need to prove that these values are not foreign to it and shall keep developing and supporting the Paralympic sports in the Russian Federation.


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The article considers the present situation with the values-based reference points for modern sports to counter the latest negative trends in the global sport system degraded by the commercialization, business agendas and dirty politicking that now dictate the rules to bar Russian athletes from top-ranking sport events. Having analyzed the idea of ‘sport spirit’, the authors make an attempt to find its present meaning for the global Olympic movement asking if it can be ranked among the base values of the Paralympic sports. To arrive to an objective interpretation of the ‘sport spirit’ in application to the physically disadvantaged people, the study analyzed the relevant modern study reports with concern to the values system of the modern global sports plus the valid regulatory documents of the relevant international sport organizations including International Paralympic Committee, United Nations Organization, Council of Europe, European Union, and European Paralympic Committee. Objective of the study was to analyze the situation with the national paralympians being barred from the top-ranking events – in the context of the global and European policies and practices, to see the situation from the western standpoint including the relevant doping and social rehabilitation issues.