Sport and Civic Engagement
In this article I wanted to explore the connection between sport and civic engagement.
Civic engagement is often defined as working to make a difference in our communities. It means promoting the quality of life in the community, through both political and non-political processes.
Sport itself is civic engagement. The coaches, officials, volunteers and more take the time to put effort into sport programs to build them for young athletes. Participating in the sport community helps promote active lifestyles and also making a difference in the lives of young people. It is often said the importance that coaches have on a young person’s personal and athletic life.
But how does sport foster the want to become civically engaged? This topic was briefly explored previously in Sport and Citizenship. We are going to dive into the topic of effective citizenship and civic engagement more in this article and how sport creates a more civically engaged citizenry.
In an article by Mark Hugo Lopez, Research Director, and Kimberlee Moore (2006) titled Participation in Sports and Civic Engagement, they outline that young people (18-25) who have participated in sports engage in volunteering and voting (in the USA) more frequently than those who have not participated in sports.
People who have participated in sports are more likely to be civically engaged. But why?
I believe that it’s because sport cultivates effective citizenship by instilling the values of respect, fairness, responsibility, and friendship into young people around the world. By teaching these values we can teach young athletes the importance of caring for your community and giving back to it in any way that you can.
It also creates stronger connections with others in our community. With stronger bonds and roots in our community, citizens want to take care of others. They care more about what happens to and in their community. I believe they are more passionate about the direction that the community goes in.
Through the values instilled in sport, athletes learn the importance of being civically engaged in their communities. This shows through voting and volunteering. How can we increase voter turnout in elections that has been trending down over the past few decades? One option could be working to get more youth in sports. Once again, a low cost tool for governments to try to combat a policy problem.