TitleSports clubs as accessible developmental assets for all? Adolescents’ assessment of egalitarianism vs. elitism in sport clubs vs. school
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSäfvenbom, R, Geldhof, GJ, Haugen, T
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Pagination443 - 457
Date Published09/2014

School and sport clubs are considered important public institutions in the nationwide scaffolding of developmental assets for adolescents. However, external assets’ impact on individuals’ internal assets is not given and developmental institutions do not necessarily function as the society would like to believe. Previous qualitative studies from Norway indicate that organized youth sport appears as competitive and exclusive and the purpose of the present study was therefore to assess a national sample of adolescents’ perceptions of their local sports clubs in terms of egalitarianism (inclusiveness) and elitism (exclusiveness). A comparison with their assessments of their local school was performed. This study offers a youth development perspective on personal experience, and a sociological sport policy perspective focusing on sports for all. A sample of Norwegian adolescents’ (N = 2055) appraisal of their local school and sports club was assessed and the results showed no significant cross-domain difference between the two institutions regarding the perception of egalitarianism/inclusiveness. However, the adolescents rated the sports club as significantly more elitist and thus more exclusive compared to schools. The perception of inclusiveness was positively related to a measure of parenting quality while the perception of sports clubs as elitist was positively related to age among girls, but not among boys. The results confirm an incongruity between the Norwegian ‘sport for all’ policy and adolescents’ assessment of their local sports club, and this article questions the use of democratic and egalitarian rhetoric in sports policy documents emphasizing the concepts as democracy, loyalty, equality, community, health, integrity and tolerance.