Managing Sport for Public Health: Approaching Contemporary Problems with Traditional Solutions

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Managing Sport for Public Health: Approaching Contemporary Problems with Traditional Solutions


  • Anna Aggestål Department of Education, Umeå University, Sweden
  • Josef Fahlén Department of Education, Umeå University, Sweden


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Abstract:  In the area of public health, civil society involvement in attaining government objectives on physical activity participation is often carried out by voluntary sport organizations (Agergaard & Michelsen la Cour, 2012; Österlind & Wright, 2014; Skille, 2009; Theeboom, Haudenhuyse, & De Knop, 2010). In Sweden, this responsibility has been given to the Swedish Sport Confederation (SSC), a voluntary and membership-based non-profit organization, granted government authority to govern Swedish sport towards government objectives (Bergsgard & Norberg, 2010; Bolling, 2005). Research has pointed to difficulties for sport organizations to shoulder such responsibilities due to the deeply rooted logic of competition in sport and organizational structures adapted for competitive sport (Skille, 2011; Stenling & Fahlén, 2009). This article focuses on how public health is being constructed, implemented and given meaning within the SSC. Drawing on a critical discourse approach (Fairclough & Fairclough, 2012) this study explores the SSC’s role and position in public health promotion by interviewing SSC representatives and National Sport Organizations’ (NSO) general managers. Results indicate how discourses on democracy, equality and physical activity are used to legitimize the SSC’s role in public health. Also, how these discourses are compromised in practice, posing challenges for organized sport in meeting objectives of public health.

Keywords:  argumentation analysis; Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA); democracy; equity; physical activity

Published:   25 June 2015


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v3i3.197


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