These figures concisely show that at the highest level, although there has been a significant increase in the number of women representing Great Britain at the Olympics over a 16-year period, the number of women coaches has remained very low. If changes are to be brought about to reduce inequity in sport, these findings show that it is of significant importance to establish people from minority groups into managerial and administrative roles in order for a change to become permanent and ingrained in society.
Inequity is an issue that has been tackled by government in many ways over recent years, and many different approaches have been tested to reduce levels of inequality and discrimination within sport and in society as a whole. Various measures have been taken in this country (and internationally) to prevent incidences in which inequity leads to oppression as described earlier. An example of this in England is the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 followed by the Sex Discrimination Act in 1975. These ensure so-called equal rights for women, but, as outlined below, do not entirely stamp out inequity:
“In Britain the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act now allow women in sport to go to court if their rights are abused, but it is important to recognize that sex discrimination in itself is not unlawful, only instances where discrimination creates financial consequences.” ‘Physical Education & The Study Of Sport’, Davis, Bull, Roscoe & Roscoe This statement underlines the fact that even when the government steps in to make legislations intended to prevent it, inequity within sport and in society as a whole is still very much apparent.
Nevertheless, numerous initiatives and organisations have been set up with the interest of promoting equity in sport at heart. The most prominent of these is Sport England, the brand name of the English Sports Council, which has been established since January 1997 with the primary objectives of development and maintenance of the infrastructure of Sport in England, and the distribution of National Lottery Funds. The slogan “More people, more places, more medals” adopted by Sport England reflects the three key areas in which their priorities lie. ‘More medals’ focuses on international recognition for England as a successful sporting nation. ‘More places’ concentrates on the development and placement of sports centres and facilities. ‘More people’ is aimed at getting more people involved in sport, and the key area when it comes to studying inequity in sport. Sport England has identified inequity as a problem and gives the following ‘equity statement’:
“Sport England recognises that inequalities in sport exist. We are working to change the culture and structure of sport to ensure that it becomes equally accessible to all” Sport England actively encourages sports clubs and associations to promote equity for themselves, and has also commissioned much research to be carried out on the issue. An example of this is shown earlier in this essay, as the 1999/2000 survey by the Office for National Statistics on Ethnic Minority participation was appropriated by Sport England.
They also work closely alongside many projects set up specifically to achieve equity in sport. These range from BEM Sport – Yorkshire, an project “developed as a forum to represent the black and ethnic minority sports community in the Yorkshire area” Sport England Website, right through to West Ham Asians in football, set up to bring the most talented young Asian players into the professional game through a link-up with the academy at West Ham United FC.
Aside from promoting equity and providing expertise to assist such projects, Sport England has also contributed ï¿½988,000 to the cause. As an organisation, Sport England is accountable to Parliament through the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It is he/she who appoints members to the council of Sport England. Over and above the existence and influence of Sport England, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has attempted to address the issue of inequity in sport. Basic sport and leisure legislations such as the obligatory requirement for the provision of libraries, playing fields and allotments, and optional additional leisure facilities have been introduced.
Directly, government has affected sport and leisure in many ways, from its leisure policies before and after the introduction of the welfare state right through to the development and subsequent demise of Compulsory Competitive Tendering, designed to encourage competition financially for sports facilities maintenance and construction contracts amongst other things. Although initiatives and legislations such as these have affected the overall picture of sport participation, the projects that single out and tackle sports equity directly are done through Sport England. In conclusion, I believe it is fair to say that although the existence of inequity in sport is decreasing with government attempts to address the issue; the need still resides for changes to be made within society at a deeper, more fundamental level for true equity in sport to fully take effect.
K. Wesson, N. Wiggins, G. Thompson, S. Haitian, ‘Sport & PE’, Hotter & Stoughton, 1998. R. J. Davis, C. R. Bull, J. V. Roscoe, D. A. Roscoe, ‘Physical Education & The Study Of Sport’, Wolfe Publishing, 1991. J. Coakley, ‘Sport in Society’, McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2001.