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The Development Of Sport In England

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Sport England, which is the major funding body for sports in the United Kingdom adopts the definition laid out by the Council of Europe Charter on Sport (CECS) to determine if a particular activity qualifies as a sport.

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According to the CECS, “‘Sport’ means all forms of physical activity, which through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.” The definition emphasises on physical activity being the key element for an activity to qualify as a sport. However, in the ever-evolving society that we live in, where there is a major debate leaning in the favour of considering competitive video gaming as a medal event at the 2022 Asian Games and the 2024 Olympics, and wherein the recent years, Darts has been acknowledged as a sport by Sport England while at the same time Bridge has not been acknowledged, it seems like there is more to ‘sport’ than just the physical element.

Coakley (2017) suggests that Sports is A social construction that is it is created by people through interactions under the varying economic, social or political conditions. What this also means is that as these conditions change so will the interaction between people which can initiate a change in the concept of ‘Sport’. This idea, that sports is a social construction and can be changed according to the varying social, political or economic conditions seems to be at play in the current society/Sport governing bodies hypocritical approach towards recognising or not recognising an activity as a sport.Take competitive gaming for example which perfectly demonstrates the effect of change from a social, political and economic perspective. It is frequently argued in the favour of competitive gaming that while it lacks the physical element, it shares all the other elements of an activity which qualifies as a sport. In terms of cognition, players have to study numerous strategies, different techniques and their opponents. In terms of training, a professional gamer clocks in the same if not more amount of hours in training.

The US Government has gone so far has to acknowledge professional gamers as professional athletes by granting them a US p-1 visa which is reserved for a professional athlete. However, it can be argued that this is solely for the purpose of making the visa process less hectic in order to promote the industry and ensure foreign investment in local businesses. After all, it is an industry worth at US$493 million and is projected to be worth at US$1.65 billion by the year 2020.Over the years, the society has demonstrated the concept of sport as a social construct to be true. Snowboarding sets an excellent example as it began in the 1960s but was only recognised by the Olympics as an official sport in the year 1998. More recently, Sport England acknowledged darts as a sport and 2015. This goes to show that as the society has evolved, so has the concept of sport which will continue to evolve in the future.

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