Sport and physical education are frequently understood as a means to accomplish any or all of the following: building good character; teaching values such as loyalty, dedication, or teamwork; strengthening a community’s identity; transforming conflicts and establishing sustainable peace. The power of sport as a sociological and political tool has been used since colonial times and experienced its peak in 2005, when the United Nations announced the International Year of Sport and Physical Education. However, as long as sport has been celebrated as an all-purpose tool, it has also been criticized to do quite the opposite of what it actually claims. The author of this document, while believing sport can make a difference, finds himself somewhere in the middle and is hence very cautious in assessing sport’s ability to achieve social inclusion, community development and conflict resolution. In particular, the emergence of the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) terminus in 1992 and the following boost in sport for good programs concerns: Does sport intensify issues or rather promote peace and strengthen a community’s identity, given that evidence suggests both?
The document hereafter focuses on SDP and critically evaluates its appropriateness to fight social ills. The field of development is a very delicate one where actions need to be chosen very carefully to bring about change. In particular, third party intervention might be misguided by wrongful assumptions about the historical, social, and cultural context. It has been argued that current SDP initiatives overly rely on Western ideals and claim to be a de-facto standard to shape Global North-South relations. The researcher wants to distant himself from those presuppositions of ideological superiority and intends to develop a framework which relies on the inherent transformative strength of the hosting community. Consequently, this thesis provides an approach to SDP that is need-based and comes from within, facilitating a mutual togetherness by celebrating humanities’ greatest gift: diversity.
This thesis is structured in three related parts: first, it develops an impartial and universal foundation, culturally and socially unbiased and hence adaptable to various contexts and applicable to accomplish a variety of goals. The researcher has come to understand that such a framework can only be based on ethical theory, wherefore several philosophies are evaluated initially. Arguments supporting the positive impact of ethical training and seeing moral reasoning as mutually beneficial are ample; controversially, however, immoral behavior and decision making appear to have intensified, emerging as global concern. While the West blames ‘the Rest’ to trample upon humanitarian rights, is the former’s winner-takes-it-all mentality blamed to have caused irresponsible and selfish behavior. This document found that moral principles are ambiguous and interpretative, whereas cognitive moral development can be understood as culturally and socially independent. Therefore, it is suggested that developing moral values should be a pivotal part to and objective of any development activity.
Consequently, the second part of this document argues that sport needs to become a vehicle for moral development while basing its practice on a social contract, collaboratively striving for human excellence. Current SDP practices have been found to commonly rely on and reproduce Western ideals, risking intensification of issues they want to mitigate. In particular, programs are inadequately planned and executed, lacking integration in wider development initiatives and failing to leave behind positive legacies. Sport can convey moral values, but the experience needs to become part of an educational scheme, which is explained in the final part of this thesis. The researcher discovered that moral development needs to rely on a voluntary and mutual agreement to a code of conduct for all participants. Morality develops intellectually and practically; thus sport, being activity-based, needs to pair with a form of liberal education to reflect and fully comprehend the benefits of ethical, just behavior and mutual togetherness irrespective of any social or cultural characteristics.