IN MY VIEW: Vital link between sport and education
The 1948 London Olympics had an organising committee consisting of 12 volunteers who mainly had a military background. The management of sport seen in this way did not represent any major problems. They were freely chosen activities, without particular issues and with a minimum of regulations. Participants did not contest the decisions of the referees or the leaders so that the latter did not have to profess any particular knowledge or qualifications to fulfil their tasks. Sport has, however, seen a considerable development ever since which has not ceased to increase with the years. For the London 2012 Olympic Games the organising committee (LOCOG) consisted of 6,000 specialist staff (supported by 70,000 ‘Games Maker’ volunteers) and had a Games budget of £9 billion compared to 1948’s total event costs of £732,268.
With the professionalisation of sport, economic and financial issues have become considerable, whether in regard to the remuneration of the athletes, television rights paid to broadcast the major events or the amounts paid for transfers, for example. Because of this, sports activities and the organisation of competitions has been the subject of increasingly dense and complex regulations. These regulations have often become a source of conflict. Legal considerations have emerged in sport. This evolution has been emphasised by the development of communications, transport, the media and in particular television. The latter has powered sport’s globalisation and increased the complexity of its management. Certain sports organisations have become real industries, the management of which can no longer be entrusted to voluntary workers, no matter how devoted they may be.
Under these circumstances, many heads of sport have become aware of the need to train specialised executives in sport management with knowledge in finance, law, commerce, insurance, etc. which allow them to fulfil their responsibilities. Clearly, therefore, the links between sport and education have never been more important and this can be seen in the growing number of academic courses now available to aspiring candidates who wish to work in this challenging and increasingly complex industry.
However, the rewards for obtaining a sound understanding of academic subjects such as the Humanities of Sport, Sport Management and Sports Law – as covered by the FIFA Master which is organised by the CIES in partnership with three universities - De Montfort University in Leicester (England), SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan (Italy) and the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) - are clear. Indeed, the sports industry is now demanding that the graduates it recruits are equipped with high level skills and the ability to make a positive contribution to the sector from the moment they start working and graduates from specialist courses clearly have an advantage over other applicants from non-specialist sport courses who wish to enter the world of sport administration and management.
We have been very fortunate at the CIES that our graduates and our academic programmes are firmly established amongst the most respected in international sport business. Indeed, with over 90% of our FIFA Master graduates now working in the sports world and for organizations including the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), International Olympic Committee (IOC), Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Fédération Internationale de Basketball Amateur (FIBA), Sauber Formula 1 Team, Mastercard, Adidas and IMG, the impact that graduates from one academic programme can have upon what is a relatively small global community are significant and it is important, therefore, that teaching and learning is regularly reviewed to ensure that it is relevant to such a fast paced and dynamic industry.
The links between sport and education are not just confined to the classroom, though. For example, many research institutions are now offering data services not just to students of sport but direct to the sports industry and Federations themselves. The CIES Football Observatory is a good example of where data mining and sports surveys can be used to inform managers about potential strategies and possible new players to be transfer listed in or out of a club following the analysis of data provided both during play and beyond.
But as sport continues to grow increasingly more complex it is important to remember that we are not dealing with just another area of business. No, sport has a far wider emotional reach and attachment to the people who work in, participate and consume it. Sport is a social phenomenon - the importance of which no longer needs to be proved. Its educative and cultural value, its economic and political impact and its universal and integrating influence mean it plays a leading role in modern society that cannot and should not be ignored. Education, therefore, has a vital role.
Vincent Schatzmann is the General Secretary of the CIES, based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Date published: 25 September 2013