Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) is a fairly new field of study, as far as specific literature and scholarly efforts are concerned.  Most initiatives in the area proclaim to assist all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  This thesis argues that sport as a tool for development and peace needs to be more specific and integrated in other adjacent, wider efforts.  In particular, it is suggested that universal and impartial objectives are inevitable to set the stage (the ends) for any SDP initiative, on which ground thereafter appropriate tools (the means) can be selected and applied to achieve those goals.  Consequently, this paper develops recommendations based on a qualitative analysis of possible foundations to install SDP programs and suggests possibilities and limitations using sport to fulfill the targets which the development activity is meant to accomplish. 

A roadmap to initiation, integration and innovation of SDP

Part one named ‘Initiation – Moral development and its worth’ specifies a goal that is adjustable to various situations, yet supported by a universal philosophy serving the greater good of our global community.  This paper proves that such an objective can only be an ethical one and discusses, therefore various ethical theories from Kant to Hobbes while addressing possibilities how moral values can be initiated and just behavior developed.

Part two, titled ‘Integration – Sport as vehicle for moral education’ shows that sport constitutes an appropriate tool for moral development, as it is suggested in part one to be an underlying principle of SDP programs.  Most contemporary SDP practices lack such a foundation, which results in questionable sustainability of those programs.  Long-term planning is essential to assist objectives of wider development activities.  The often short-sighted initiatives might be the reason why SDP is often poorly integrated.

Part three, called ‘Innovation – Liberal education connecting sport and moral development’ provides arguments against the critiques of current SDP practices of not being sustainable and inappropriate for assisting in wider development efforts, as is addressed throughout part two.  It is suggested that sport needs to be accompanied by a form of liberal education which reflects on-the-field experiences and extends those to other areas of social life.

Figure 1: Thesis Roadmap

The figure above depicts the approach described; modeling SDP as an innovated as well as integrated initiative that is initiated and founded on a code of conduct, facilitated by both educational and experience-based methods to develop morals values.

Thesis rationale, assumptions, and theoretical foundation

The author rests his claims on the assumption, which is detailed further, that moral development through sport and liberal education is a likely answer to transform conflicts, which experiencing and transcending are arguably inevitable parts of moral development.  Most influential has been the work of Thomas Hobbes (Morgan, 2007) who claims that we have good non-moral reasons to be moral.  The basic idea is that human agents cannot achieve what they want in life without the cooperation of others (aka interdependence).  Realizing that we may not be self-sufficient, as independent as society wants us to believe we are will initially lead to opposition, antagonism against ourselves and most likely towards others, which then will unavoidably constitute a conflict. 

While moving on, i.e. developing our morals, beginning to respect, appreciating and acknowledging others’ worth and benefits for us, we may create, as Hobbes calls it, a social contract.  Written and unwritten rules which govern our society, allow us to derive ethical principles we can base our decisions upon.  Thus in contrast to Kant’s (De Vries, 1997) deontological philosophy that all human beings have an innate sense of moral duty, we may understand we have no other choice but to act morally just and serve the greater good (i.e. utilitarian), if we are to fulfill our personal goals and live up to our very own expectations.  Hence this proposal creates yet two paradoxes in regards to utilitarianism: deontological views are the base for the liberal education element (cf. Innovation – Liberal education making sport a tool for moral development) and Hobbes’ version of contractarian perspective is the foundation of the sport component (cf. Integration – Sport as vehicle for moral education). 

The main principle shall be that participants learn the former, developing an innate sense of morality, facilitated through experiencing the latter, by acting moral even though initially not because of conviction, but based on mutually agreed principles.  Learning abstract ethical concepts is one part of the formula, experiencing what it means to apply them the other fragment.  Success in team sport, for instance, requires values such as cooperation, equity, fairness, and the adherence to written or unwritten rules (i.e. social contract).  Participants are meant to develop morals, which become an integral part of their behavior by being capable of reflecting on a variety of situations and critical reflect on own belief and values, incrementally adopting to strive for the greater good as it is illustrated in the suggested moral development cycle below (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Cycle of moral development

Practicality of theoretical content

Though this thesis mainly focuses on delivering theory – it is therefore primarily analytical and qualitative – to design a well-founded framework, a universal and adaptable approach to moral development, it shall also offer some practicability.  Too often insurmountable barriers between theory and reality are discussed, which makes one question the legitimacy for either.  Thus the ideas outlined throughout this document are supported by an assessment of local and international practices that shall strengthen the arguments made, and as Hoffmann and Weiss (2008) put it establish a ‘middle ground between the worlds of abstraction and application’ (p. 265). 

The previous statement may be particularly important when social sciences come under scrutiny, and even more so, as is the case with this thesis, when an abstract concept such as morality is addressed.  Conflict regarding human rights and basic human needs can barely be rationalized and theorized.  Too complex is the web of contextual factors which underlie those dissents.  From this perspective, agreeing upon universal moral values appears to be a far-cry, yet the methodology outlined in this research is not meant to give definite answers to past or current issues.  Rather it should be understood as a process, as an initiation that builds a solid foundation; a basis that can help to overcome conflicts in the future; an emergence of a small group of moral agents of change, promoting the benefits of togetherness and mutuality that may provide answers to social ills independent from cultural and social circumstances.