Sport’s power to galvanise friendships and foster community spirit is at threat from big business and government intervention, a report has found.
A 64-page report from religious think-tank Theos found that the UK populace believes sport has the power to make us ‘good, peaceful, prosperous and healthy’ — one of the reasons why sport events are often used in evangelism.
The report said, ‘There is no such thing as “just a game”. Sport is treated as an arena for moral development, a way to resolve deep sectarian and international conflicts, a key plank in government strategies to make us healthier; and it is big business’.
However, the more governments, inter-governmental organisations and NGOs pump sport for its social, political and economic benefits, the less it can offer for the common good.
The report said, ‘Inflated rhetorical claims have distorted our understanding, expectations and often our political decisions. Sport is just as likely to promote and excuse conflict as it is to reconcile. Again and again, sport has been set up to over-promise and under-deliver’.
It concluded that sport should be reclaimed from the social, political and economic agendas of the age for the common good.