Sport sector transformation by russian market reforms in late xx to early xxi century

Postgraduate D.O. Chavkin1
Dr.Sc.Hist., Professor I.M. Kornilova1
PhD, Associate Professor A.S. Fomina1
1Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow

Keywords: sports, sport labor, social institution, social functions, sport environment, physical education.

Background. The national sport analysts and communities are increasingly sensitive to the socio-cultural benefits of sports in the modern world, and the national sports institutions generally evolve in line with the global sport development trends. The national physical education and sports sector development process is designed and managed as provided by the Federal Physical Education and Sports Target Development Program of the Russian Federation for the period of 2006-2015; Long-term Socio-Economic Development Concept of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020; and the Physical Education and Sports Development Strategy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020 [4]. Any analysis of the national physical education and sports sector shall be based on the following two considerations. First, the nation had made a transition to the market economy only by the end of the XX century; and, second, the interests, values and priorities of the national sport communities have made a transition from the Soviet ones. It should be mentioned in this context that the Soviet athletes with their collectivistic culture tended to give a top priority to the team performance rather than their individual interests, accomplishments, with the national pride being central for them in the international competitions – in contrast to the new self-identification model of the new millennium that is rather cosmopolitan i.e. favors the individual qualities and accomplishments at sacrifice of the collectivistic ones.

Modern sports are analyzed by the national research communities in different aspects including the theoretical, practical and social ones with a special attention to the practical experiences of the national universities, with the studies often designed to better understand, among other things, the social roles and drivers of sports for the modern civilizations.

Objective of the study was to analyze the modern theoretical and practical research approaches in the national physical education and sports sector and functions of sports viewed among the key practices of the modern civilization, with the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics physical education and sports policies, practices and communities taken for the case study.

Methods and structure of the study. Theoretical methods of the study were based on the system, structure and functionality analyzing approaches to consider the modern sports as an integral system with its interrelated elements, with a special priority to the sport labor interpretations in terms of the market economy; missions of sports viewed as a social institution and the cultural role played by sports in the modern civilization. Empirical study methods were dominated by the questionnaire survey of the Moscow-based Plekhanov Russian University of Economics students in 2018, run in cooperation with the Student Sport Club. Sampled for the questionnaire survey were the 17-22 years old students (n=302), with the sample being 51.8% male and 48.2% female. The survey was intended to probe the students’ attitudes to sports on the whole and the academic sport services in particular in the relevant aspects including the cognitive, behavioral, motivational, entertainment and environmental ones.

Study findings and discussion. The modern sport practices raise a few theoretical and practical issues for the studies including the sport labor interpretations in terms of the market economy, missions of sports viewed as a social institution and the cultural role played by sports in the modern civilization.

Most of the sport researchers tend to consider the modern sports-related labor and service as an integral part of the market economy to analyze and check applicability of some provisions of the classical/ Marxist political economy to the modern sport labor, with a special attention to the abstract/ specific factors of the sport service and its consumer/ exchange values. Sports-related labor is commonly viewed as the product of the sport service and responsibilities having its prime cost i.e. ranked among the other goods produced by the special sport markets. The modern sport analysts tend to classify the sport labor with the contracted individual labor category, with the individual service quality determined by the physical/ intellectual qualities and skills, sport qualification, labor conditions/ responsibilities etc.; with the service naturally giving a boost to new sport disciplines emerging with time in the competitive environments.

Modern studies bring to the forefront many issues need to be addressed by the sport labor research projects. Modern sport management process in the context of other economic processes requires the relevant competent human resource including at least the economic analysts to assess the sport service efficiency and effectiveness; managers and legal advisers to effectively design and manage mass sport movements, professional sport groups and different sport institutions; and sociologists competent in the sport culture and the relevant socially sensitive sport products [6].

The issue of ‘sports as a social institution’ is being addressed by the researchers in terms of the relevant social agendas geared to regulate the relevant individual/ communal activity to fairly meet the demand for the sport service and secure the social integration and good social wellbeing of the sporting individuals. The praxeological, identification, aesthetic and environmental contributions of the modern sports may be interpreted as the foundation of their social status that gives rise to the relevant values and priorities of special importance for the modern communities. As provided by some analysts, the physical education and sport services may be classified by their missions. Modern physical education may be interpreted as the indispensable element of the social culture, with the individual physical development agendas integrated into the core physical culture with its health, adaptive and recreational missions. The mission of modern sports in the market economy may be viewed as dominated by the competitive accomplishments, with the sport selection and promotion processes driven to attain the best possible competitive performance; and with the relevant sport institutions and educational establishments jointly operating to fulfill this mission.

Considering the modern sports as a social institution, we should give a special priority to the sport sector commercialization issues and state support for the sport sector in application to the professional sports on the whole and elite sports in particular [1,3, 5]. Furthermore, some sport analysts make a special emphasis on the cultural context of the modern sports. In opinion of L.I. Lubysheva et al. [3, 4], sports in the context of the modern globalization, urbanization and information processes may be viewed as the highly efficient socializing tool for many social groups – for the reason that they effectively and universally model multiple life situations and develop competitiveness-driven behavioral models critical for success in the modern society. It is commonly acknowledged that the modern sports help develop the individual competitive spirit, individual resource mobilizing abilities and determination – to form a basis for a reasonable individual pragmatism, purposefulness and personal success on the whole.

New research concepts making an emphasis on the social aspects of modern sports highly relevant for the modern socio-cultural contexts are designed to facilitate the efforts of different institutions (mostly the educational ones) to put their operations on the sports-prioritizing basis with the key focus on the popular and promising sport disciplines. Since the traditional resources for further progress of competitive sports are limited and largely exhausted and, hence, the classical sport disciplines tend to generate less and less world records with time, a special priority is increasingly given to the team sports with their teamwork performance prioritizing missions, and to the relevant modern sport technologies. Modern educational establishments tend to give a growing attention to the sports-prioritizing physical education models driven by the most efficient and beneficial sport disciplines [3, 4].

The Plekhanov Russian University of Economics (RUE) management gives a top priority to the off-class sport services, with a special contribution to the healthy lifestyle promotion and mass student sport movement advancement policies and practices made by the RUE Student Sport Club and Sport Committee under the RUE Student Board. The sport service assets of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics include a training gym, martial arts club, fitness studio, team sports hall, health sports facility with a swimming pool; multisport venue and a recreational facility. The University actively pursues studies of the long-term modern sports progress economics. Having analyzed the progress trends of the modern market economy, financial resource capitalization, infrastructure and institutional development models and processes, the University has implemented a few projects to offer modern socializing-process-sensitive sport services to the students.

One of such projects has resulted in a new sport center with a dormitory. The sport center includes a 12x25m large swimming pool, team sports hall, training gym and two fitness gyms. The academic physical education and sports service is supported by the sport club services provided by the academic football, volleyball, ice hockey, basketball, track and field sports, kickboxing, mixes martial arts and some other clubs. The Plekhanov RUE management persistently supports the student sport movements with special contributions from the Health Technologies Center; Sport Club Center; two Physical Education Departments; and the Volunteer Service Center for the 2018 FIFA World Cup [1, 2, 5]. The University organizes and hosts multiple sport events including the sport festivals and academic competitions – such as the Open Student Boxing Tournament; home matches of the National Student Football League; table tennis competitions; swimming competitions; open chess tournaments; football, basketball and volleyball Rector’s Cups etc.

The long-lasting academic sport traditions and sports-prioritizing academic policies and environments keep the University abreast with the modern sports development trends. The questionnaire survey of the student sample showed that the students rank high the modern healthy lifestyles on their lists of values and priorities. Thus 44.7% of the sample reported going in for sports on a habitual basis (2+ times a week); 45.5% of the sample reported attending the academic sport groups, with the figure being indicative of the high focus on the health culture and values and success of the academic sports-prioritizing service and policies. Most popular among the students are reportedly the training gym practices, aerobics and swimming, with the trainings reportedly averaging 60-90min (44.2%) and 90-120min (30.5%). The survey found 49% of the sample being proud of their competitive accomplishments, and 56% reportedly competing in the academic sport events.

The questionnaire survey also demonstrated the high value of the competitive spirit and entertainment aspects of the modern sports for the sample, with 59.2% of the sample enthusiastically supporting their peers in the competitions; 73.4% reporting the individual competitive accomplishments being highly appreciated by the student community; 65.2% being highly motivated for the sport trainings; and 60.9% proudly wearing outfits with signage of the University Student Sport Club. Furthermore, the survey demonstrated success of the University policies to promote the sporting values in the student communities supported by the modern sport service infrastructure, good management and financing; with 75.3% of the sample reportedly appreciating the Plekhanov RUE management policies and practices to spur up the young people’s interest in sports; and 72.5% of the sample rating the academic sport service provided by Plekhanov RUE by 7-10 points on a 10-point scale.

Conclusion. For success of the academic sports promotion policies, modern universities shall take efforts to implement new theoretically grounded approaches to secure good social benefits of the academic physical education and sports services and support the services by special progress tests of the service conditions and needs, promote the modern sports-related values in the student communities and, when necessary, make revisions to the academic physical education and sports promotion policies and practices.


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The study analyzes the national sport sector transformations as a result of the Russian market reforms in the late XX to early XXI century. We analyzed the modern theoretical and practical research approaches in the national physical education and sport sector with a special priority to the sport labor interpretations in terms of the market economy, missions of sports viewed as a social institution and the cultural role played by sports in the modern civilization. A special emphasis is made on the role of sport labor and interpretation of a sporting individual. It was found that the market transformations have resulted in the economic basis of the sport labor being revised; with the professional entrepreneurial sports giving a chance to every athlete to attain the individual ambitious goals and secure the personal social wellbeing and financial standing. The functionality and cultural aspects of the modern sports are analyzed using the database accumulated by G.V. Plekhanov RUE on the material and technical provisions for academic sports; academic sport design and management reports; and the questionnaire surveys of the student population yielding critical data on the student attitudes to the healthy lifestyles and modern sports versus their popularity rates; plus the student ratings of the academic sport service quality. The study data and analyses show that the university management is fairly successful in the efforts to implement new theoretically grounded approaches to secure good social benefits of the academic sports supported by the relevant polices to advance the academic sports viewed as central for the academic physical education curricula.