Risk management in school sport

Por: Marie Young e Paul Singh.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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School sport plays a significant role in the growth and holistic development of learners. The quality of management of school sport therefore has to be such that these outcomes are successfully accomplished. However, in relation to the trend of increasing sports opportunities at schools for boys and girls in particular, studies [1,2] have shown that learners are exposed to greater risks of injury and harm. In the absence of physical education nationally, professionally prepared educators of physical education [3] and sport have virtually disappeared. School sport is largely managed by volunteer educators who in most cases do not have the competence or interest in this ‘peripheral’ activity. This study aimed to investigate how risks in school sport are managed, and the principles, policies and practices of principals and sport heads at selected secondary schools in Gauteng Province.


This study involved an empirical investigation into the management of risks in school sport. Two instruments were developed specifically for South African schools. One was aimed at the school principal, and the other at the head of sport. They were validated by experts in the fields of school sport and sports law. They were piloted in schools and certain statements were modified for clarity. A stratified sample of 100 schools participated in this study. A total of 30 schools returned the questionnaires.


Whereas general policies were established for safety and security of learners in schools, there appeared to be no policy implementation in respect of safety and security specifically regulating sport and recreation. This supported the finding of Van Deventer [3]. Principals and Sport Heads were not adequately informed about their legal liability arising from the in loco parentis principle. Rules, regulations, indemnities and insurances were inadequate. Records relating to risk management were not maintained. Risk management plans were not developed. School governing bodies were not prudent and exposed themselves to various risks in sport and recreation. Risk management planning is strongly recommended as a means to prevent harm to learners in physical activities. Sports law should form an integral part of the professional preparation of educators involved in physical activities.


[1]. Van Heerden H.J. (1996).Unpublished D.Phil Dissertation, Pretoria
[2]. Labuschagne J.M.T. (1998). Stellenbosch Law Report, 72(1), 72-97
[3]. Van Deventer K.J. (2002). AJPHERD, 8(2), 425-444








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