EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Sports policy could help build ‘European identity’‘:

Reading your interview with Laurent Thieule of the think-tank Sport and Citizenship reminds me of Reagan’s famous dictum:

The nine most dangerous words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Sport evolves organically. It is unique in creating a mini legal regime on the field of play, and as such is a refuge from government interference.

Sometimes sport is slow or downright ineffective in the way it addresses its own problems. Nevertheless, there seems to be no surer way of distorting sport than getting yet another huge international organisation involved.

Mr Thieule’s desire for sport to create a European identity sounds like social engineering of the worst kind. As a fan, I would ask him not to encourage state interference in something I love just for the sake of creating a political identity.

Hoover

Private citizen

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Comments

  1. Greetings

    I’m from the US, I played american Football at university as well as every other sport my whole life. I now work in the European Commission as a policy officer. I think this is great! Europe does not have the sport infrastructure like the US which starts in grade school and goes through the university level. It’s nice that the EU can develop norms and standards to build a higher quality environment for sports to thrive in Europe.

    Since Regan was brought up, sports have been funded generously by public education and other government institutions for some time now in the US even under both conservative and liberal leaders.

    From my experience I wouldn’t have it any other way. I learned so much discipline,teamwork, competitiveness. Those attributes help in every aspect of life.

  2. Hi ct,

    I agree that discipline, teamwork and competitiveness are important characteristics.

    I also agree that sport is one of the best ways to gain them.

    However, I don’t see the connection with the EU. I can’t see that Brussels is needed when national governments, charities, schools and private associations are also working to help people get the most out of sport.

    Centralisation is a fundamentally bad idea, and I see no reason to suppose that this will be different in respect of sport.

  3. Re Hoover’s comment, ‘I can’t see that Brussels is needed when national governments, charities, schools and private associations are also working to help people get the most out of sport’.

    Why is Brussels involved? Because national governments have asked the Commission to get involved and to support their efforts to help people get the most out of sport.

    This is what Article 165 of the new EU Treaty says:

    The Union shall contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of the specific nature of sport, its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function.

    Union (EU) action should be aimed at … developing the European dimension in sport, by promoting fairness and openness in sporting competitions and cooperation between bodies responsible for sports, and by protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen, especially the youngest sportsmen and sportswomen.

  4. Difficult choice! On one hand, living in a country with a very weak adult participation in physical activities (among others, because of an undeveloped sport infrastructure), it would be nice to have a boost from EU. On the other hand, living in a country with an authoritarian state (sport is a state competence, sport federations are state controlled, etc.), and a lack of self sustainable sport organizations (elite football clubs not included 🙂 ), I wonder how stronger should the state’s involvement be.

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