Recent Articles

Levelling up: Opportunities for sport for development to evolve through esport

As one of the most disruptive forces to the sports industry in decades, the esports industry has borrowed long standing approaches used in sport to emerge and establish itself in the sporting landscape. Esports has a growing appeal among a youth demographic that is similar to the youth demographic targeted by the Sport for Development (SFD) community. This paper examines the aspects of esports that the SFD sector can leverage to enhance program delivery to drive deeper systemic change, including leveraging gamification, harnessing the reach of mobile gaming, and capitalizing on the variety of games and consoles available to achieve nuanced SFD outcomes. The paper encourages starting increased dialogue on how video games and esport may be complementary tools for SFD organizations that want to innovate or evolve how they create and deliver impact.

Examining the impact of a sport-based positive youth development program for adolescent girls of color: A mixed methods study

Adolescent girls of color experience systemic and interpersonal risk factors that intersect on the basis of their race, gender, and age. These risks negatively influence their rates of obesity, engagement in physical activity, and overall health and well-being. Sport-based positive youth development (PYD) programs are known to address risks and build protective factors, yet little is known about how these programs specifically impact adolescent girls of color. This mixed method study examines the impact of a sport-based PYD summer camp on the holistic health of adolescent girls of color. We conducted nine qualitative interviews and compared changes in mean scores on pre- and post-camp survey measures for 35 adolescent girls of color. In our findings, we identify underlying program mechanisms and design components that influenced girls’ experiences, participation, and engagement. Further, we describe positive changes reported by girls in relation to their physical, social, psychological, and spiritual health and well-being. We also present an emergent theory of change to serve as a guide for how sport-based PYD programs can be leveraged to address intersectional health and well-being outcomes among adolescent girls of color.

The Americanization of sport for development and peace: Examining American SDP intern experiences

This study expands the Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) research focusing on the impact of national values and ideas on SDP program implementation. As SDP interns are instrumental in implementing many SDP programs, it is important to identify how their national values and ideas affect their work in the field. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the experiences of Americans who had worked as SDP interns. Through the lens of Americanization, we examine the reproduction and distribution of values and ideas of American SDP interns working abroad. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 11 former American SDP interns to explore their perspectives and reflections on the work they carried out as American SDP interns. Throughout the interviews, American ideas rooted in neoliberalism, capitalism, and education appeared as conceptual influences that were woven into their SDP internship experience. The findings indicated that, in their role as American SDP interns, the participants were at once complicit in and resistant to reproducing inequitable power relations, constantly wrestling with personal ideologies and American sporting values that did not align with cultural and social norms of the host countries. Implications of this study emphasize the continued need for SDP analyses to identify and critically consider nation-specific values and ideas of SDP workers and their impact on the local implementation of SDP programs.

Youth, “waithood,” and social change: Sport, mentoring, and empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa

The transition from youth to adulthood in African nations has changed markedly in recent years. Social and economic challenges often lead to the creation of a disengaged and alienated generation struggling to participate actively in society. Drawing on the personalized accounts of a group of youth leaders experiencing such conditions, this paper presents empirical findings from a small-scale qualitative study of one Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) initiative that, through various community-based projects, aims to provide personal, social, and educational support for young people in Mzuzu, a city in northern Malawi. The paper seeks to uncover some of the reasons behind youth disengagement within this particular context and explores how empowerment-based mentoring is used by youth leaders to bring about change in the lives of the young people with whom they work. The paper concludes that amid the wider tensions and anxieties of youth transition in sub-Saharan Africa, strategic and intentional relationship building (through mentoring) can provide a catalyst for personal development, intergenerational connection, and social change.

Call for Nominations: JSFD Early Career Scholar Award 2021

We are pleased to announce the second annual call for nominations for the “JSFD Early Career Scholar Award,” to be awarded to an early career JSFD author in recognition of significant scholarly contributions to the sport for development field. The winner of the award will be recognized online and in a newsletter shared with all JSFD followers.

Volume 8, Issue 15 published (Special Issue)

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of its fifteenth issue, a special issue on sport and livelihoods guest edited by Mitchell McSweeney, Sarah Oxford, Ramón Spaaij and Lyndsay M.C. Hayhurst.

Sport and livelihoods: An introduction to the special issue

Sport for development (SFD) has continued to evolve as a field to the point where it has been suggested as an institutionalized sector within the broader international development discipline (Darnell et al., 2019; McSweeney et al., 2019). Research, practice, and policy related to SFD has increased greatly since the new millennium, including empirical analysis related to the management, innovative processes, and partnerships of organizations (Welty Peachey et al., 2018; Svensson & Cohen, 2020; Svensson & Hambrick, 2016), sociocultural investigations into the power relations across and within North/South contexts (Darnell, 2012; Hayhurst, 2014, 2017; McSweeney, 2019), explorations of gender (in)equalities and (de)colonization (Darnell & Hayhurst, 2012; Oxford, 2019; Oxford & McLachlan, 2018), and studies of the (un)intended consequences of SFD programs for participants who are “targeted” as development beneficiaries (Spaaij, 2011, 2013a; Whitley et al., 2016), to name but a few. Yet, although critical and important insights into the complexities and premise of SFD continue to grow, and organizations continue to emerge within the field (at least pre-COVID-19), there remains a need to examine further the potential opportunities of sport, if any, for promoting and offering livelihood opportunities to specific populations (Schulenkorf et al., 2016). This special issue aims to advance theoretical, empirical, and practical insights into the relationship between SFD and livelihoods.

“I feel happy when I surf because it takes stress from my mind”: An Initial Exploration of Program Theory within Waves for Change Surf Therapy in Post-Conflict Liberia

Surf therapy is a novel form of sport for development (SFD) intervention being utilized to support well-being within post-conflict settings. There is currently little research exploring surf therapy program theory in SFD contexts. Theoretical exploration is important for optimization, monitoring, and further expansion of service delivery. This research utilized pragmatic qualitative methods to explore participant-perceived impacts and outcomes within the Waves for Change (W4C) surf therapy intervention, as implemented in Harper, Liberia, that aims to support youth well-being. Twenty-three past W4C participants (17 males and 6 females, mean age = 15.8 years, SD = 3.6 years, range 11-25 years) took part in semistructured interviews about their experiences of surf therapy. Data were analyzed through constant comparative analysis. Six impacts and outcomes were identified within three intervention domains: Social, Skills Curriculum/Bananas Culture, and Surfing. The findings highlight sport as an adaptable vehicle for improving well-being and skills within successful intervention delivery while providing a foundation for further in-depth exploration of program theory. Furthermore, the findings provide empirical evidence on how to optimize and proliferate surf therapy within other post-conflict settings. The findings also provide transferable conclusions for the improvement of SFD more generally.

Volume 8, Issue 14 published

The Journal of Sport for Development (JSFD) is pleased to announce the publication of its fourteenth issue.