Poverty in certain areas of the European Union (EU) holds part responsibility for poor families having the inability to play sports as youth. In the EU, non-western ethnic people and women are more poverty stricken and less likely to volunteer or participate in sports (Collins & Haudenhuyse, 2015). People with low socioeconomic status are 25 % less likely to be club members, competitors, coaches, or volunteers. Disadvantaged areas have a weaker sporting infrastructure, as well as general lower sport participation rates. The low sport participation rates could be related to the inability to afford sports programs. Studies show that poverty in the EU is generally increased due to the government excessively spending and borrowing funds and resources. In 2003, poverty was the core reason of social exclusion above reasons of gender, age, ethnicity, and disability. The possibility of committing a crime and living in a less than desirable location were also higher. Due to the increased amount of people living in poverty, European sects began an in depth study of inclusion in sports and inclusion through sports, as well as anti-discrimination (Adair, p. 1). Inclusion in sports included percentages of those who participated in sports and inclusion through sports were those programs that aimed at including deprived, poor, or disadvantaged people. Even the people that were fortunate enough to play and continue playing sports throughout life indicated that life transitions were the main reasons for dropping out of sports. The world is dealing with refugees experiencing major life transitions currently.
During the studies of poverty, inclusion in sports, and inclusion through sports, there were some harsh realizations along with steps on what could possibly be done to help the less fortunate people in the EU to get involved in sports. One of the first issues that was discovered during the testing and development process was that many sport programs run for 3 years, which is generally the lifespan for politicians. Policymakers need clear logic and a clear decision making process in order to create programs that run for 7-10 years to fully establish the program and provide substantial data of the outcomes. Programs need to be equally available for rural and urban areas. Rural areas tend to be disadvantaged or at-risk. The problem is that interventions of this type legitimize the negative outlook on such areas. This provides stigmas of certain territories. For this reason, it is easier to target groups for sports in urban areas. Programs need to be established that enables rural areas to create programs for the target groups and is affordable. Sustainable sport programs work the best when all fundraisers are tied together and are actively involved during the entire program building process. The reason this may not happen is due to politicians. Politicians believe the need of sports is not important enough to require support of political economic or organizational partners. The result ends in typical groups such as schools, youth groups, churches, and community groups not participating in the contribution of sports. Instead, certain groups in the sectors of young people, education social affairs, and crime prevention have begun to participate in supporting the community sport groups.
Positive Futures is a sport program that was established in 2000. This self-referred or school referred program was created with the intention to promote sport and physical activity, reduce drug abuse, and improve lifestyles among lower income youth, ages 10-19. Beginning in 2003, Positive Futures was separated into three different groups in order to enhance the studies to determine if the program was more beneficial for groups with fewer participants. The conclusion was that if the program was supported by the community and resources were shared by other practitioners, then young people were better supported regardless of the size of the group. However, with a smaller group, one on one relationships between young people and sport leaders were able to be formed in which a higher impact on long term personal development was achieved. The end result was increased ability for higher education and better employment opportunities.
The conclusion is that in the European Union, poverty rates are at its peak and are only expected to increase over the next four years. Sport services in the EU have always been under threat of closure, due to the fact that the government does not see it as a priority. However, now more than ever, those programs are likely to see closure due to local government financial reductions and political orientations. Though programs such as Positive Futures are doing their best to help the younger generation, some area based grants that promote social inclusion through sport have been already been discontinued. Struggle of the repressed class happens globally, and sports offer a pathway to staying healthy and enjoying aspects of life, despite poverty and transition.
Adair, D. (2010). Race, ethnicity, and indigeneity – challenges and opportunities for embracing diversity in sport. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies Journal, 2, 1.
Collins, M., and Haudenhuyse, R. (2015). Social exclusion and austerity policies in England: The role of ports in a new area of social polarization and inequality? Cogitatio, 3, 5-18.