Saturday, November 26, 2011

Using sport to solve the global financial crisis.

Over the last couple of days I have been wondering about the possibility of a sport for development program that targets middle-upper class white kids - primarily boys. I would call it Fixing Upper Class Kids Using Polo or other Sports.

A few things got me thinking about this. The first is from an impact report by Fred Coalter that involved a number of sport for development organizations. One of the points of the report was that organizations often operate from a deficit model. That is, they base their program around the presumption that participants are lacking or deficient in some way. This is usually accompanied by labeling participants as 'at-risk' or vulnerable and developing programs that act as forms of social control. This form of labeling seems to be restricted to certain groups; for example, minorities in the West, or large portions of the 'developing world'.

As a result of an article I read recently I started thinking about flipping things around. The article was about anthropology, specifically regarding research involving aboriginal communities in North America. An issue that was discussed was that researchers/anthropologists rarely 'study-up'. They often enter communities with the question: why are these people poor? The article calls for approaches that would 'study-up' and ask questions regarding who holds power in a society and why.

Getting back to my original idea, it seems to me that a disproportionate number of white collar criminals and those involved in the financial crises of the last couple of years have been white men. I'm also going to make a big leap and assume that they disproportionately come from middle-upper class backgrounds. So I wonder why young middle-upper class white males haven't been labelled as at-risk and in need of programs that teach life-skills, values, and character building; things that are commonly championed through sport for development programs. We need programs that reach these vulnerable, at-risk youth before they go on to destroy people's lives, companies, and entire financial systems. Why do we have basketball programs to keep black kids off the street where they can get caught up in unethical, immoral, criminal behavior, but not programs that keep white kids off of Wall Street where they get caught up in unethical, immoral, criminal behavior?

Nov 27, 2011