In this assignment I will be introducing myself and my motivation for enrolling on module E122. Primarily I will be looking at the differences between sport, recreation and physical activity. I will look at how we can define these categories which I will do by looking at examples of each activity and then explaining which category they fall into, as well as demonstrating how these activities can overlap between categories. Furthermore, I will look specifically into one activity analysing the scientific, economic and management changes that have occurred in recent years and the effects these have had. (on what?)
My name is George, I am 24 years old and from being a school leaver until February of this year I was a professional footballer. I started at my hometown club of Norwich City FC spending many years of my youth until the age of 17. I have then been very fortunate to spend 8 years working as a professional and having opportunities to play in Spain for five years and Australia for two. With the current financial climate, football has been unable to avoid the global impact and the level’s I find myself playing at are a world away from the Premier league and not financially secure or stable. For these reasons, I have undertaken the decision to embark on a career as a coach and want to work at the highest level I possibly can.
I have already had some equally good experiences in coaching being selected to coach the Victorian U13 state football team whilst in Australia, as well as establishing my own elite football development center that is still thriving in Melbourne and supporting around 60 players trying to improve their skills and abilities. I hold my FA level 1, 2 and UEFA B license and have recently completed my FA Module 1 and 2. I am really excited to meet everyone and can’t wait to start this course to hopefully improve my knowledge and understanding of the sport and fitness industry to help me further develop myself within my coaching career. I feel there will be some great benefits to my own personal performance and I will also be able to hold further empathy with the players that I am coaching by gaining new skills in nutrition, muscular and aerobic fitness programs.
Defining Sport, Recreation and Physical Activity
There are many different views on the definition of sport, recreation and physical activity which can conflict, overlap and provoke much debate. As stated by Green, M. (2008, p10) ‘It should be noted at the outset that the task of providing clear definitions for ‘sport, ‘recreation’, ‘physical activity’ and ‘leisure’ is fraught with problems.” I will look at two different activities and demonstrate which category or multiple categories that they best fall under. The first activity I will be analysing is the national sport of Great Britain, Football. Football is extremely popular in Britain and comes in many different forms from one of the top professional leagues in the world (Barclays Premier League) to thousands who participate in informal recreational match play every week, which is solely for enjoyment as well as those who play to achieve a high level of physical activity. The first category football most certainly falls under is ‘Sport’. We have 4 divisions of full time professional teams.
The 92 football clubs are split between two national governing bodies, twenty teams fall under the governing body of the ‘The FA Premier League’ and a further seventy two clubs under the governing body of ‘The Football League’. If we look at a key fact for defining sport by Green, M. (2008, p13) ‘there will be an agreed-upon set of rules which are normally regulated by an organisation such as a national governing body of sport like the Scottish Football Association or England Netball.’ Using this view point it would clarify that football comes into the category of ‘Sport’. If we look at football in a different context, for example; a group of men aged 20-35 who meet once a week when work and family restrictions allow them, for a game that follows some of the rules of football but enables the players to follow other rules far more loosely or not at all i.e. pitch dimensions, offside rule and score keeping, thus eliminating the competitive element of the Sport. In this form, football then vicissitudes from being within a “sport” to being within “recreation” due to the particular difference that the environment has created.
This is shown by Green. M (2008, p13) ‘there is no competitive element, people set their own goals and determine what counts as success or failure.’ Football could also always be considered a “physical activity” as participating in the activity would guarantee to increase the heart rate of the participant. The second activity I am going to look at is skateboarding. Whilst not an overly popular activity in the UK and considered to be participated by a minority of extreme sports enthusiasts, this contrasts largely in the USA where skateboarding has a far bigger culture and is carried out by millions as a social and recreational activity. Most participants will engage in the activity as a hobby or a pass time, there is no formal structure, rules to follow, governing body to adhere to and the main aim is to have fun and relaxation. I still feel however that the activity of skateboarding can fall into the category of Sport. I draw to this conclusion due to the fact that there are professional athletes who participate in regular events that come under a national and international governing body.
The most prestigious of these would be the annual event called the ‘X Games’, which held its inaugural event in the summer of 1995 (Rhode Island), where participants compete to win medals (Bronze, Silver, Gold) and also achieve prize money dependent on their final position in the standings. The event receives huge amounts of media coverage mostly from American TV network ESPN and therefor looking at skateboarding in this context with its general acceptance by the media, TV broadcasters and newspapers as a sporting activity, Green. M (2008, p13), you would have to conclude that skateboarding is also considered a sport as well as a very popular recreational activity. Football, how has it changed; economically, scientifically and its management Football is not only a huge sport but a humongous industry that is constantly evolving and changing. I would like to look at some of the major changes that have occurred in recent years.
Football has changed dramatically from its early inception seen back as far as the 1800’s and possible the biggest changes that we have seen is the economics of the game. If we look at one aspects of the football economy, player’s wages, we may possibly see one of the biggest fluctuations. The first generation of hero’s that received any form of remuneration for playing saw salaries of around seven pounds a week. This was however before the First World War so we have to take into consideration the very different financial climate of the time; it is still a universe away from the sums of money players receive in weekly amounts in the present day, with some players receiving in excess of two hundred thousand per week! This has been common for footballers over the past two decades, the most recent changed that is becoming more and more common place is these wages being unpaid, sometimes for months on end until in extreme cases football clubs are liquidated and go out of business.
This is not just your local village side but most recently Rangers Fc, arguably the largest club in Scotland went out of business and no longer exists. The worst place at present for unpaid wages is the Spanish football leagues, while the national team is the most successful in the history of the illustrious sport, this hides a very serious fact of the financial meltdown that Spanish football clubs are currently experiencing. “Last year, 20 m Euros were unpaid in salaries to professional players in Spain and this year that figure has already increased by 10% with 22 million of unpaid salaries – to date!” (spain-football, 2011). Possible the biggest changed in recent years that I have even experienced in my career is the scientific influence in the game. Gone are the days of eating what you like, have a squeeze of an orange at half time and a few laps of the pitch for a warm up.
Now clubs spend millions on employing extra members of specialist staff, providing players with all dietary requirements and huge amounts of analysis is carried out on players. We are now far more aware of how certain exercises, vitamins and recovery tactics will improve player’s performance and injury prevention. If we look at an extract from an interview with Everton’s sports scientist Dave Bellows (premier league, 2012) “Most of the Academies have sports scientists now so the players coming through have been brought up with that ethos and mentality, and they accept it and expect it”. The last area I will look at where we have seen significant change is the management perspective of the sport and the area I want to discuss is the stadium management at professional football matches.
Football grounds used to be made up mostly of terracing and fans would be squeezes in dangerous amounts into football grounds. Following the Hillsborough disaster (1989), this is still receiving much media attention; the Home Office ran an enquiry conducted by Lord Justice Taylor. Following the Taylor report it was recommended that all top division clubs were to phase out the old terracing and become all-seater stadiums. This has been followed through and is now law in the UK, I offer the following extract to demonstrate the change, (inbreif, 2012) “Following from the requirement for all top division stadiums becoming all seater millions of pounds has been spent by every top club in both England and Scotland on developing their grounds.
All seater stadiums have become far safer and easier to manage as all spectators are each sold a ticket for a specific seat”.
In conclusion, I believe that with the evidence found and stated within this assignment, different activities can be part of more than one category and I have demonstrated key points in helping decide which category activities come into in which context. I have also looked at and given examples of how the sport of football has changed in recent years from an economical, scientific and management perspective and backed up my findings with references from various sources.