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An analysis of elite sport policy change in three sports in Canada and the United Kingdom

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posted on 01.02.2011, 16:20 authored by Michael J. Green
This thesis explores the process of elite sport policy change in three sports (swimming, athletics and sailing/yachting) in Canada and the United Kingdom (UK). The nature of policy change is a complex and multi-faceted process and a primary aim of the study is to identify and analyse key sources of policy change in four elements of elite sport programming: i) the development of elite level facilities; ii) the emergence of 'full-time' swimmers, athletes and sailors; iii) the adoption of a more professional and scientific approach to coaching, sports science and sports medicine; and iv) competition opportunities and structures at the elite level. The study focuses on the meso-level of analysis, which centres on the structures and patterns of relationships in respect of three Canadian national sporting organisations (NSOs) and three UK national governing bodies of sport (NGBs) - representing the three sports cited above. The macro-level of analysis is also considered, where the primary concern is to analyse relations of power between governmenta nd quasi-governmentasl porting agenciesa nd the respective NSOs/NGBs. A case study approach is adopted, focusing on the six NSOs/NGBs, wherein a qualitative methodology is utilised in order to elicit data in respect of policy change in the four key elements of elite sport programming set out above. Within the case study approach, the advocacy coalition framework has proved useful in drawing attention to the notion of changing values and belief systems as a key source of policy change, as well as highlighting the need to take into account factors external to the policy subsystem under investigation. In Canada, it is evident that the preoccupation with high performance sport over the past 30 years, at federal government level, has perceptibly altered over the past two to three years. In contrast, in the UK, from the mid-1990s onwards, there has been a noticeable shift towards supporting elite sport objectives from both Conservative and Labour administrations. The study concludes that it is only by exploring specific sports through a comparative-analytic framework that a better understanding of policy change, within the complex and multi-layered sport policy process, might be achieved.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Michael John Green

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Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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