Values-based sport. Why?

Un entraineur illustre un jeu pour son équipe

All too often we hear of bad things happening in sport. At the same time, we also hear about heartwarming stories of how sport has made a positive difference in someone’s life. We’ve seen how, for example, a world-class performance can be elevated when an athlete demonstrates amazing character in the face of adversity, but we’ve also seen how doping can tarnish a world-class performance. We’ve seen how parents behaving badly in community sport can rob children of a positive sport experience. And, we’ve seen incredible community coaches helping to turn kids’ lives around through their approach to coaching.

For many of us, we accept that good and bad stories are just part of the sport experience. Bad sport happens as naturally as good – it’s just the way sport is. For some of us though, we believe that with a little more intentionality, we can actually decrease the bad things and increase the good things that happen in sport.

The Canadian Sport Policy makes the important point that for sport to be a quality experience, it must be values-based. The Sport Policy defines “values-based” as sport programming designed to increase ethical conduct and decrease unethical behaviour. Or, in other words, increase the good and decrease the bad. Exactly what some of us believe is possible.

The Canadian Sport Policy also makes the important point that quality sport programming should be technically sound. It defines “technically sound” as sport programming informed by the principles of long-term participant development.

For a number of years now, the Canadian Sport for Life initiative has been helping sport develop technically-sound sport programming, which is informed by the long-term participant development model. It has most recently evolved into the Athlete Development Matrix. This work initially adopted a national sport organization top-down approach to dissemination and we are now starting to see it find its way into community sport. The benefits of this approach will have a profound positive impact on Canadian sport in the years ahead.

But what about values-based sport? Should we leave that to chance? Should we leave it to the best intentions of those involved in sport? No, if we want less bad and more good in sport, we will have to be as intentional about values-based sport as we have been about technically-sound sport.

Just as the long-term participant development model drives technically-sound sport, so too do the principles of True Sport drive values-based sport. Let’s not leave good and bad sport to chance. Ensure your sport is intentionally and deliberately driven by the True Sport principles.

For more information on the True Sport principles go to