Strategy of sports federations and the state

Por: Abel Correia e Mário Teixeira.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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This research presents a study of six national gymnastics organizations in terms of their structures and written policies to manage the sport. High performance in sport has been related to areas such as sport science, technical advances, technological facilities and training systems among others [1, 2, 3], however, very little attention has been given to sport management and organisation as they relate to performance [4]. This PhD research shows how different National Gymnastics Federations deal with their regulations and to what extent they have policies, other than technical ones, to organise the work of their members: gymnasts, administrators, judges, coaches. The research was initiated by two questions: What is the internal structure of the gymnastics organizations for the different groups? and, Are the gymnastics organizations that achieved better success in the last ten years, more organized than those that have had lower results?


This study was addressed as a theory building research project in the framework of qualitative methods. Six gymnastics federations accepted to participate in the study; performance in competitions (World Championships & Olympic Games 1990-1999) was the variable used to classify the countries. The countries studied were divided into two groups. The first group (A) comprised Australia, France and Italy. The second group (B) included Ecuador, Indonesia and New Zealand. A total of 79 documents were sent by the national gymnastics bodies; there was a process of coding and translations in some cases. Interviews were conducted with members of the organisations, eight from each country and representing the different groups in the study. The analysis was focused on specific categories. For administrators the categories were related to the requisites for board members, election process, number of board members, board periods and network. Coaches’ and judges’ categories were addressed to education schemes, selection criteria, awards, network and board representation. For gymnasts the emphasis was on registration, awards, board representation and selection criteria.


The countries that achieved better results (Australia, France and Italy) had more policies criteria to organise the sport. Nevertheless it is important to point out that Australia went through various changes in the 90s, the biggest of which was the Board constitution in 1998. New Zealand was also in the process of including changes. In Ecuador the regulations had been in place since 1978; they were in the process of being updated. This phenomenon was also observed in Indonesia and the regulations which were followed had been in place since the 70s. In general, France and Italy had the greatest range in written policies. There were sixteen different issues suggested in the analysis of the data; they were related with the importance of written rules and policies, education schemes for coaches and judges, election and voting procedures, decision making structures, recognition and awards, and participation policies.


In the countries studied, the existence of several structures in structures, did not imply that the majority was well represented; France had more democratic participation. Still, the members of those structures were mostly appointed rather than elected. The vote of a local community was held in the hands of one or two people in some organisations. While economic limitations might be preventing the invitation of several members, it was not observed in the written policies that other members rather than the one or two appointed can participate. In this way, the voice of the majority was not heard. While Chalip (1996) mentioned that critical sport policies analysis was not welcome in oppressive political environments, it is a reality that some sport structures and policies are oppressive independently of the political system in which they are imbued. In most democratic countries people of a certain age can vote to elect their leaders. It seems that the voting rights that members of the organisation are given could be an element to start generating democratic participation. The existence of written policies is basic to the management of an organization, nevertheless, once they exist it is necessary to critically evaluate them in order to understand if they are looking at the development of the organisation in relation to its goals and principles.


[1]. Broom, E. (1991). JCPES, 13 (2), 24-54.
[2]. Douyin, X. (1988). JCPES, 10 (2), 3-12.
[3]. Heinilä, K. (1989). JCPES, 6, 193-198
[4]. Doherty, A. (1998). SMR, 1, 1-24.
[5]. Chalip, L. (1996). JSM, 10, 310-324.



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