Sport and development: An overview, critique, and reconstruction

Douglas Hartmann, Christina Kwauk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations


"Development" has become both a watchword and a fascination in sporting circles worldwide. Yet sport officials, policy makers, and advocates often have relatively unsophisticated understandings of development and the role of sport therein. This can result in programs and initiatives that are unfocused, ineffective, or even counterproductive. Drawing on critical theory and informed by our own research on sport-based social programs, the authors attempt to impart clarity by distinguishing two different approaches to sport and development: a dominant vision, in which sport essentially reproduces established social relations, and an interventionist approach, in which sport is intended to contribute to more fundamental change and transformation. The authors develop a critique of the former and elaborate on the latter, focusing on normative visions of the social status quo and the role of sport as an educational tool for otherwise disempowered, marginalized young people. The overarching objective is to show that practitioners interested in using sport for development however defined must recognize these theoretical issues and create appropriate programming if their intended outcomes are to be achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-305
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • development
  • education
  • sport
  • theory


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