Sport as we know it today finds its origins in nineteenth-century schools of the middle classes of England, where it was explicitly articulated as a medium for the socio-moral development of the future leaders of society (Mangan 1981). Despite massive social and economic changes since then, the idea of using sport as a means of developing ‘character’ and other positive social learning, such as learning to work in a team, has formed an enduring justification for the provision of sport for young people in schools and in sports clubs, in both western and non-western settings (see, for example, Sherington 1983; Light 2000). Despite a more recent and popular view of sport as a useful means of combating lifestyle diseases such as obesity (see, for example, Gard and Wright 2009), and growing awareness of how children’s and youth sport can be corrupted by the influence of elite-level professional sport, assumptions about positive socio-moral learning occurring for young people through playing sport have proven to be remarkably resilient (see, for example, Holt 2009). Over the past two decades there has been rapid development in the provision

of sport for children as young as 5 years of age in most economically developed countries, but not without concern about the influence this has on their moral, social and physical development. First noted in the United States (Martens 1982), the influence of professional, adult sport on youth sport is now widely recognized as a global problem. In addition to the growth of adult-organized grassroots programmes in youth sport across a wide range of sports, high-stakes competitive youth sport played at national and international levels is now an increasingly frequent occurrence. This is evidenced, most dramatically, by the staging of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Singapore in 2010, with 3500 athletes aged between 14 and 18, from 205 countries competing in the same 26 sports that are on the programme for the 2012 London Olympics. In 2012 the winter version will be staged, with both summer and winter YOGs to be conducted on four-year cycles, as is done with the Olympic Games. McIntyre’s concept of sport having internal and external ‘goods’ is useful

here for identifying how elite-level, professional sport can impinge upon the social, moral and ethical learning that can result from young people’s engagement in sport and the problems that can arise from high-stakes versions of youth sport. As Harvey, Kirk and O’Donovan explain in Chapter 7,

McIntyre sees internal goods as being unique to the practice of sport, and can only be gained through ‘wholehearted’ participation. Using basketball as an example, this means that to acquire internal goods such as not only the skills and tactics learnt, but also the understandings of etiquette, and of the rules and traditions of basketball such as respect for opponents, a player must be immersed in its practice. A professional basketball player can also gain external goods such as money, fame and prestige from the sport but these external goods are not unique to basketball in the way that the skills, strategies, knowledge of traditions and cultural knowledge of it are. As Harvey et al. point out in Chapter 7, the pursuit of external goods is

most obvious in professional sport, but becomes a problem when the desire for external goods outweighs the pursuit of internal goods. When this happens, sport as an ethical practice is invariably corrupted through practices such as cheating and the use of illegal drugs as a means of gaining a performance advantage in the quest for external goods. If the pursuit of external goods becomes paramount over the internal goods of a sport, Harvey et al. suggest, in the long run sport can become unsustainable as a practice. The emphasis on external goods in professional sport, as represented in the media, and the media’s role in actually creating them or enhancing their value, impacts upon the practice of youth sport, where internal goods should be emphasized in the pursuit of realizing sport’s capacity to engender a range of positive and lasting learning and development. Moreover, governments seeking to combat a range of perceived social ills,

such as alienation and delinquency among young people, have identified sport as a mechanism for promoting and fostering positive youth development. In the UK, for example, the nurturing of good citizens is one of three major goals of the Physical Education and Sport Strategy for Young People, funded by millions of pounds of public money, with the other two goals being the production of successful international sports teams and the erasure of obesity. Such government interest in youth sport has fuelled ambitious targets for young people’s participation in sport at all levels in the UK and many other countries. All of these developments suggest that, in the early twenty-first century, sport is becoming an increasingly important aspect of youth culture (Green et al. 2005). They also suggest that the meanings made of sport, and the influence it has on the development of young people as they move into the adult world, is far more complex and full of tensions and contradictions than it was in the late nineteenth-century schools of England. Drawing on the concept of a social field used by French sociologist, Pierre

Bourdieu (see, for example, Bourdieu 1986), the field of sport with its emphasis on playing for the sake of the game and the use of sport for young people as a medium for positive social learning is now profoundly changed by the influence of the field of commercial, commodified sport that has emerged from the intrusion of the business field into the field of sport, with its very different values (Webb et al. 2002). These developments suggest that there is a significant threat to the enduring ideals of sport as a medium for positive moral and

social development and the capacity for children’s and youth sport to deliver this learning. There is also concern with an associated range of worrying ethical issues such as physical abuse (including overtraining), emotional and sexual abuse (see for example Stirling and Kerr 2007), practices that are harmful to young people’s immediate and long-term health, gender inequity and inequality of opportunity to participate or compete fairly due to disability or unfair age groupings, all of which are dealt with in this book. Within this context we suggest that there is a prima facie case for the development of strong ethical codes for the conduct of youth sport, and for policy and pedagogical applications of these codes to ensure that the positive moral, social and physical benefits of participation in sport for young people are optimized and the negative influences diminished. We recognize the challenges involved with this task due to the deeply situ-

ated nature of sport and the ways in which it is influenced by larger and very powerful economic and social forces shaping how, and what, young people learn in and through engagement in sport as both participants in sport and consumers of it. As Cook and Cole (2001) remind us, the impact of children’s participation in sport does not end with the referee’s whistle and nor is it neatly bounded by the sidelines of the playing field. The ‘play frame’ within which youth sport is practised is permeable and extends well beyond the players, the game and the community built around it (Cook and Cole 2001: 227). Commercial, professional and highly competitive sport can, and does, therefore, impact powerfully on children’s behaviour, and their moral and social development. This occurs in both explicit and easily identifiable ways and in implicit ways that are often difficult to identify yet so significant because they are implicit. For example, while children may criticize violence in sport within the media they can unknowingly enact the very same behaviour that they condemn in their own games (Light 2008). There is, however, much that those involved in sport – from policy makers,

National Governing Bodies and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to coaches, teachers and parents – can do. Indeed, there is a pressing need for these concerns to be addressed but, apart from the initiative of the Panathlon organization, there is little evidence of any systematic, organized activity in this area of significant need. On its website Panathlon describes itself as a non-government, non-profit-making, non-political association, of all Panathlon Clubs, juridically recognized by the Italian Government and by the IOC, and a member of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) and of the International Committee for Fair Play (CIFP). The word Panathlon is of Greek origin with pan meaning all and athlon meaning sport; all sports. In November 2008, Panathlon ran a conference in Ghent, Belgium, to consider expert opinion on how the Panathlon Declaration on Ethics in Youth Sport, written and approved in September 2004 and subsequently endorsed by the IOC and many other sports and public organizations, might best be implemented. Some of the presentations made at the Ghent 2008 conference, further elaborated by their authors, form the basis of this book,

centred on approaches to ethics in youth sport and policy applications. They are supplemented by additional chapters, particularly on the pedagogical applications of ethical approaches to youth sport, from scholars across the globe, to provide an international perspective on a profoundly important issue for youth sport.