Enabling Leverage by Building Alliances between Sport Management and Recreation Management

스포츠 매니지먼트와 레크리에이션 매니지먼트간의 연계 구축을 통한 상호 발전 방안

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  • ABSTRACT

    Recent debates regarding the academic relationship between sport management and recreation management have concluded that sport management does not integrate well with recreation management, and vice versa. The conclusion derives from narrow concerns with protection of academic turf, rather than the development of a vibrant community of scholarly research and discourse. Recreation management and sport management have developed an array of complementary realms of inquiry that remain inadequately informed by one another because the two have remained largely separated in the academic community. In fact, the two disciplines share a common handicap which derives from the poor status associated with the study of play. However, their shared focus on play is potentially a source of advantage as play (and playfulness) can be used as tools for policy intervention. In particular, there are opportunities for enhanced policy impact in health, economic development, social development, and environmental stewardship. There are consequent opportunities for research funding. However, neither sport nor recreation have attained the degree of impact or funding their potential warrants, particularly because the two have remained separated from one another. Indeed, the separation of sport from recreation has led to strategic failures of policy, for example in the creation of sport tourism policies. In particular, the capacity to cross-leverage sport and recreation needs to be better understood, as there are clear psychographic connections that are inadequately understood and therefore inadequately applied. For example, we have so far failed to understand how sport participation and sport spectating might be leveraged to enhance the development of markets for both. In order to overcome the challenges of working together, we will need to develop a vision for shared research agendas and curricular complementarities. The direction and means for so doing are described.


    최근 학계에서는 스포츠매니지먼트와 레크리에이션 매니지먼트간의 개별적 접근의 양상을 보이고 있다. 이 결과 미래지향적인 학술적 발전의 수순으로 보기 어려운 편협적인 학술적 구조로 변질되고 있는 형국이다. 레크리에이션 매니지먼트와 스포츠매니지먼트는 각각의 개별적 학문 발전으로 인하여 상호 보완이 요구되는 측면을 구조화 시키며 발전해왔다. 실재공통의 연구 영역임에도 불구하고 이러한 현실을 가장 여실히 보여주는 사례가 바로 ‘놀이’에 대한 부분이다. ‘놀이’에 대한 상호 보완적 접근은 현시대가 고민하고 있는 건강, 경제적/사회적 발전과 친환경문제에 이르기까지 학문적인 부분뿐만 아니라 폭넓은 정책적인 부분에 있어서도 효율적 해결을 만들어 갈 수 있다. 두 분야의 개별적 접근에 대한 병폐는 ‘스포츠관광’정책의 사례에서 살펴볼 수 있다. ‘스포츠관광’ 참여자들의 소비행동에 관한 심리적 연결고리에 대한 이해는 효율적 정책 결정에 있어 매우 중요한 부분이다. 그럼에도 불구하고 이분화된 학문적 접근으로 인하여 비롯된 개별적 정책 수립에서 파생된 결과는 지금껏 커다란 손실을 남기고 있다. 이를 극복하기 위해서는 지금까지의 레크리에이션 매니지먼트와 스포츠매니지먼트의 상호 연계 구축을 통한 개념적 공유로부터 협력적 적용이 필요하며, 공통의 학문적 연구 비전과 더불어 대학의 교과과정과 인적구조의 개혁이 요구된다.

  • KEYWORD

    recreation management , sport management , cross-leverage.

  • Academic disciplines are nothing more than the administrative conveniences of our universities. The world does not divide itself into neat little packets of concern comparable to our academic departments or our academic communities of discourse. There are no significant matters of human activity or public policy that are strictly sociological, psychological, economic, biological, physical or that conform to any single academic discipline. Things are simply more complex than that, and if we ignore that fact in our academic disciplines it can make us less effective than we otherwise might be.

    One of the most significant and problematic separations in or field internationally is the ongoing separation of sport management from the broader study of leisure and recreation. This is represented in our discourse. There are separate journals in sport management versus leisure and recreation management. It is also represented in academic departments throughout the world where sport and recreation are commonly located separately. In fact, two years ago in an influential article Dan Dustin and Keri Schwab (2008) went so far as to suggest that the inclusion of sport management in departments of recreation or leisure would damage those departments, and the best thing that could be done would be to keep the fields separate.

    From an international point of view, arguments like that of Dustin and Schwab are particularly worrying because they can be influential beyond American borders. Coming from the heart of American academia, they often resonate elsewhere in the world. I have seen firsthand how American models, concerns, and academic agendas can influence policies and behaviors even in national contexts where they are not relevant. In fact, we have seen how American systems of prestige now resonate in international academia. For example, there is increasing pressure in countries throughout the world, including Korea, for academics to publish in English in journals that are rated by ISI. In other words, American derived systems of prestige are now colonizing academic policies throughout the world. Sadly, this then translates into the ways that future practitioners are trained by our academic systems.

    From the standpoint of academic prestige, it is easy to see how and why sport studies and leisure research are fighting over the scraps of prestige left to them by the rest of academia. Sport and recreation fall under the rubric of "play." The very language we use to talk about sport and recreation falls taxonomically into the domain of play. In the popular imagination, play is the stuff of childhood. When practiced by adults, it is perceived as a mere escape from the serious and important business of daily life. By being relegated to the world of play while simultaneously being constructed as separate fields of discourse, the suppositions that relegate the study of sport, recreation, and leisure to the poorest status among fields of academic study remain unchallenged.

    Our poor status is further reinforced by the ways we isolate the phenomena we study, particularly in the English speaking world. Recreation curricula do not yet adequately consider the ways that recreation interacts with non-recreation industries, or the practical implications of work showing that cultures are constructed and changed through play (cf. Chalip, 2006). Similarly, sport management curricula, particularly in the United States, are typically limited to the study of entertainment sport, particularly professional sport leagues and the NCAA (primarily Division 1). Sport as play is simply outside much sport management discourse, and consequently outside most sport management curricula.

    There is, however, another approach – one thatembraces what sport, recreation, and leisure share: play. If we develop play as a shared paradigm, we not only bring the discourses together; we also establish the basis for asserting our relevance. Consider, for example, obesity prevention –a problem that is becoming increasingly serious throughout the developed world.

    Gusfield (1981) showed that social problems become "owned" by those whose paradigms are allowed to define the problems. In other words, we describe and then attack social problems using the dominant paradigms of the disciplines that are home to those who are put in charge. Throughout the world, obesity treatment and prevention are assigned to the allied medical professions. The problem has been medicalized, and the medical professions enjoy high prestige. Sport management and recreation management are not among the allied medical professions, so neither has played a role in setting the research or policy agendas, despite the fact that public health authorities promote exercise (along with healthy eating) as a key to turning back the escalating epidemic of obesity. Thus, we see substantialongoing public investment in programs encouraging people to walk, bike, take the stairs, and join an exercise class. Nevertheless, the fact that the problem continues to escalate despite increasing investment in exercise as a solution is prima facie evidence that the promotion of exercise is ineffective.

    We could address this failure by doing more to promote exercise. However, from the standpoints of marketing and consumer behavior, it makes little sense to do so. Exercise is unlikely ever to appeal to a mass market. In the first place, most people find it to be painful. In fact, common exercise mantra is, "No pain, no gain." Further, people find exercise to be boring, even if they are exercisers. Throughout the world, when I visit gyms or health clubs, I find that most of the exercisers are listening to music, watching television, or reading. They are doing everything they can to distract themselves while they exercise. In other words, even the relatively few people whom we have persuaded to exercise are demonstrating their distaste for the activity. None of us would invest in any product or service that we knew was both painful and boring. It would be destined to fail when brought to market. Yet that is precisely the choice our national institutions have made.

    The choice to promote exercise is, of course, a natural medical choice. As a cure, it is like other medications and other medical procedures. The fact that it is unpleasant simply reinforces its medicinal nature. What has so far remained outside the attack on obesity is the alternative paradigm: play. Play has the clear advantage that it provides hedonic rewards that people rarely find in pure exercise. Unlike exercising, it becomes a self-reinforcing behavior.

    There are recreation researchers and sport management researchers who study the promotion of physical activity, often for the purpose of reducing obesity. After all, physical activity occurs in many recreational activities and nearly all sports. However, sport researchers and recreation researchers currently seeking to address obesity operate within the medically dominated paradigm. The goal is to foster physical activity in order to obtain a medical benefit; neither play nor playfulness is a consideration.

    Clearly, if we are going to build physical activity programs designed to provide and to capitalize upon hedonic (including social) rewards, then sport and recreation (rather than exercise) are key. Playful physical activity is unambiguously a shared point of relevance for sport and recreation practice, as well as for sport, recreation, and leisure research. It is, therefore, one useful place to find common ground. However, as long as we treat the two – sport and recreation –as somehow separate, we cannot advocate effectively for this more sensible vision, and so we do not. Yet together we can, and we should – not just because it is in our interest as scholars, but because it is in the national interest.The leadership may need to come from a national setting where the old taxonomies and paradigms are less dominant. For that reason, the leadership may need to come from outside the United States or the European Union. Countries like Korea could take a leadership role in bringing this about.

    Yet, in most languages we treat sport and recreation as separate things. There is a taxonomic divide. Yet, taxonomiesare social inventions. Taxonomies are artificial distinctions that we make because we believe they are heuristically useful. We invent them. In fact, they can differ across languages and cultures (Blount, 2009), because their utility varies according to context. If we make our taxonomies masters over us, rather than making them serve us, then we drive our attention away from what really matters –how useful a taxonomic distinction is in the instance to which we apply it. There may be times when the distinction between sport and recreation has utility, but if the distinction is treated as an essential truism (which it is not), then we create unnecessary impediments to the objectives we otherwise seek to obtain.

    By way of example, consider the emergenceof sport tourism as a specialist realm. Several countries have endeavored to formulate and implement a sport tourism policy or plan, but with only marginal success, despite evidence that effective sport tourism development would be lucrative. The marginal success has been a consequence of the training of sport and tourism professionals who have come to think of themselves as separate (Weed, 2003). Consequently, they do not discourse together effectively, and they often fail to value the effort.

    I watched this separation firsthand as Australia struggled to create a sport tourism policy. At the time I was actively involved in Australian sport tourism research and policymaking, and I attended the national meetings where much of the policy content was debated. A great deal of the focus was on whether the tourism was "sport" tourism or "recreation" tourism, and the dominant view was that sport tourism is only sport tourism if it encompasses social comparison in the context of a sport event. Other forms of physical activity during tourism are, accordingly, recreational, and outside the sport tourism frame.

    This simple taxonomic contention (which is not unique to Australia) has significant and devastating policy ramifications. Consider that a key goal of sport events is not merely to attract visitors during the event; sport events are part of the overall effort to brand the destination (Chalip & Costa, 2005). Yet, surfers who come to Australia’s Gold Coast to surf the same point breaks at Kirra Beach that the Billabong Pro (a sport event) makes famous would (using the logic proposed in the Australian policy) be merely participating in a recreation, not a sport. Their activities would not fall under the rubric of sporttourism, so marketing to them would involve a different department than would marketing the Billabong Pro, and funding for promoting the Gold Coast to "recreational"surfers would not be included among sport tourism promotions. Similarly, the Gold Coast’s popularity as one of the world’s foremost (recreational) surfing destinations would not be integrated with promotions that could attract added events.

    The evident problem with this approach is that events and destination features would not be built into a coordinated strategy for cross-leverage. The point of a sport tourism strategy is to be able to promote tourism to a destination by a particular market segment –one that has an interest in sports with which the destination is associated. Treating a physical activity as a sport in one instance and as recreation in another becomes self-defeating. It causes the proposed policy to be antithetical to the very objectives that were the point of the policy exercise in the first place. It is the difference between thinking that is trapped by taxonomic distinctions versus strategic thinking about the uses of sport and recreation to optimize the attainment of strategic objectives. In other words, rather than becoming focused on taxonomies, we should ask what might be aided if we were to treat a particular taxonomic difference less rigidly. Again, bridging the taxonomic divide between sport and recreation enables better policymaking. It also enables significant new research opportunities, as the necessities of cross-leverage and play as a paradigm open substantial new research prospects.

    Nevertheless, even if intentions are good, the separation will persist as long as we allow curricula and faculty to persist in separate silos. In point of fact, there is an array of tools at our disposal to make the new vision a reality. It begins with curriculum.

    Textbooks are written for particular majors in particular classes. The topics on which textbooks focus are chosen on the basis of what has been taught in the past to those majors in those classes. Faculty members commonly design their curriculum around those texts. Thus, as sport management classes have evolved to focus on sport-as-an-entertainment, so have the texts, and so have student expectations. In self-reinforcing style, since sport management texts present topics and examples that focus on sport-as-an-entertainment, sport management classes focus on sport-as-an-entertainment, and the field becomes delimited. Recreation and recreational sports are excluded from sport management curricula not because they are irrelevant, but because past practice and popular texts have not considered their relevance. Similarly, the potentials for cross-leveraging sport-as-an-entertainment with sport-as-a-recreation are missing in recreation curricula because past practice and popular texts have not explored the relevancy of insights from sport management research and practice.

    One clear lesson from the challenges that sport tourism has experienced is that professionals who are trained to think only within a particular taxonomic frame find it difficult to work with professionals who do not share that frame. If we continue to educate sport management students as if recreation does not matter, then we can expect that they will not notice its relevance –whether to professional practice, scholarly research, or curriculum design. Similarly, if the study of recreation ignores sport management, then we should expect that students would feel they must choose between recreation and sport. If they are never shown shared relevancies, then they will treat the two as separate choices.

    Working together requires that we rethink curriculum design so that sport and recreation (beyond sport) are better meshed. So doing may sometimes require that we eschew narrowly targeted textbooks, and create collections of readings instead. In other instances, it may simply require inclusion of supplementary readings, teaching cases, or hybrid assignments. These are simple steps –steps that are well within the capabilities of effective instructors.

    Thereare also multiple means to induce faculty to cross-dialog and to build more synergized curricula. Hiring decisions, merit evaluations, and promotion contingencies can be tied to precisely that goal. Contingencies shape behaviors, and consequently affect a program’s culture.

    What I am recommending here is a subtle but significant revolution in the ways we think about what it means to study sport, recreation, or leisure. I am suggesting that we should first take seriously the notion that play (not medicine, not business, nor anything else) is our fundamental paradigm, and we should consider the ways that paradigm could enable better policymaking. The example of obesity prevention illustrates the potential. There are undoubtedly other matters of policy that would benefit similarly.

    In the process, we should resist taxonomic distinctions between sport, recreation, and leisure, and focus instead on the strategic objectives. The example of sport tourism clearly demonstrates that need. There are clearly other strategic objectives that share that need.

    These matters are important not merely because they are in our interest as scholars and researchers. They are important because they are in the best interests of our nations and our world.

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  • 3. Chalip L., Costa C. (2005) Sport event tourism and the destination brand: Towards a general theory. [Sport in Society] Vol.8 P.218-237 google doi
  • 4. Dustin D., Schwab K. (2008) Consider the Kirtland’s Warbler. [Schole] Vol.23 P.1-8 google
  • 5. Gusfield J. (1981) The culture of public problems: Drinking-driving and the symbolic order. google
  • 6. Weed M. (2003) Why the two won’t tango! Explaining the lack of integrated policies for sport and tourism in the UK. [Journal of Sport Management] Vol.17 P.258-283 google