Sports and the Environment: Ways towards achieving the sustainable development of sport

Preliminary Remark

Today, in many countries Sport and the Environment is understood as a
highly important subject. Scientists deal with this issue as well as authorities,
sports associations and conservation groups.

Above all, since the World Conference 1992 in Rio de Janeiro questions
of lifestyle are on the agenda for the environmental debate.

Sport represents a significant part of our different lifestyles and thus
automatically becomes a subject of discussion.

Many sports associations have built up professional and voluntary structures
and include environmental issues in their public relations.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), in close cooperation with
the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), hosted a World Conference
on Sport and the Environment in 1995 at which IOC President Samaranch
expressed: “The International Olympic Committee is resolved
to ensure that
the environment becomes the third dimension of the
organization of the Olympic Games, the first and second being sport and
culture. “

Subsequently to this conference a working group Sport and the Environment
was established by the IOC.

It is to be welcomed that the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee
has decided to make Sport and the Environment a central topic on the agenda
for the 4th School Forum at Genova-Arenzano 2003.

This paper is essentially practically oriented. It describes the most
important complexes of problems and shows appropriate action towards a
sustainable future of sport.

1 . Introduction

In our society sport fulfils important functions and is indeed indispensable.
It offers opportunities for physical activity in a world where physical
activity is increasingly diminishing; it promotes good health and well-being
(when pursued in moderation); and it provides a means of social contact
and ample opportunity for intensive experiences.

At the same time, however, sport can be a considerable cause of damage to
nature and the environment. Damage can occur directly as a result of the
pursuit of sports activities or the building and operation of the requisite
infrastructure, or it can be caused by indirect factors such as the use
of cars to travel to and from sports activities.

The causes of the conflict between sport and the environment
are inherent in sport itself and are also a consequence of deep-rooted
social changes; they may be understood only from this perspective. Since the
1970s, higher income, more leisure, greater mobility and increasing individualisation
have formed the basis for major and continuing changes in sport. These changes
include the following:

  • a rise in the number of people who pursue sports activities
  • a higher degree of differentiation between types of sport and sports
    equipment as well as motives and reasons
  • the use of areas hitherto unused or seldom used and areas already
    in use being opened up for new purposes
  • spread of activities to periods previously not or seldom made use
  • fewer ties with sports clubs and their traditions
  • increase in individual, spontaneous activities without proper training
  • increase in activities offered commercially and to a certain extent
    associated with aggressive advertising

Consequently, these developments have led to wider and more intensive use of
particularly attractive but, by nature, vulnerable areas. Sport is claiming
more territory, and this is continually putting numerous animal and plant
species under threat and causing the loss of natural landscapes.

Sport can not only affect nature and landscapes, but can also give rise to other
environmental damage. With regard to this problem, the use of non-renewable
resources, the emission of harmful substances during the building and operation
of sports facilities, journeys to and from these facilities, and the production
and disposal of sports equipment all play a key role.

Sports activities can cause critical damage to and endanger precious and vulnerable
locations. However, in terms of overall damage, sport tends to play a lesser
role compared to other causes such as agriculture, forestry, industry and
transport. In the analysis of conflicts between sport and the environment,
areas of overlap with other forms of land use must be taken into account.

At the same time, sport is also affected by general damage to the environment
caused by other sources. Such damage includes, for example, a large number
of devaluated watercourses, e.g. as a result of hydraulic engineering, pollution
of soil and water and air. Thus, while sport can be an obstacle to issues
of nature conservation and environmental protection, the two conflicting areas
also have common interests.

New approaches are required for resolving existing conflicts between sport
and the environment in the long term. This means, above all, orienting
conservation and utilisation concepts to the principle of sustainability
in line with the agreements reached at the Conference on Environment and
Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Sport must be included in the on-going
debate on implementation of Agenda 21, which was adopted at the conference.
The aim should be for representatives of sport and those promoting the
cause of nature conservation and environmental protection to join forces
and draw up guidelines for sustain-able development in sport.

2. Criteria for the sustainable development of sport

The model of sustainable development consists in reconciling the improvement
of economic and social living conditions with the long-term protection
of the natural basis of life in order to also give future generations the
opportunity to unfold. It not only addresses governments, but also business
and industry, all social groups and, indeed, each individual citizen.

When applied to sport, it becomes necessary to

  • promote and further develop forms of sport which are compatible with
    nature and the environment;
  • make sports-related infrastructure more environmentally compatible;
  • reduce damage to vulnerable areas;
  • secure and improve opportunities for sport and physical activity outside
    vulnerable areas;
  • preserve and increase the recreational quality of countryside and
    its enjoyment value for those doing sport.

3. Areas of action

This paper limits itself to outlining central areas of action. The areas of
action are linked to one another in a variety of different ways; considering
them in isolation fails to do justice to the complexity of the relationships.
Therefore, occasional overlaps in content are unavoidable.

3.1 Sports activities in nature and the countryside

Sport and nature conservation can be reconciled almost everywhere. Thus
conflicts arising from sports activities in nature and the countryside
are not a general problem. They seldom arise on a large scale, but tend
to be concentrated in specific locations, which are characterised by their
special attractiveness for sport, as well as by a particular vulnerability
and the need for nature protection.

Critical factors with respect to the effect of sports activities on nature
are the extent, intensity and type of sport being pursued as well as the
resilience of the natural area being used. In principle, the use of nature
for the purposes of sport should stop at the point where the type of activity
concerned considerably affects or damages nature or the rural landscape.
Thus sports activities should take into due account the degree of ecological
resilience of the area concerned.

In order to reduce the damage to vulnerable areas early on and at the
same time fulfil the task of providing for recreation, nature conservation
bodies and representatives of sport should be more involved in the planning
of opportunities in resilient landscapes. A positive impact on the recreational
value of countryside is generated as a side effect of the various nature
conservation programmes on species and biotope conservation.

In the past, some countries have developed promising approaches, above
all in the planning and management of sports and leisure activities. These
are essentially aimed at ruling out, or avoiding as far as possible, potential
conflicts and lessening existing conflicts. Numerous regulations that
have been put into practice and proved successful show that they can meet
the demands of both sport and nature conservation.

For example, leisure activities and facilities that are not tied to a
particular natural environment or geographical features should be removed
from vulnerable areas and transferred to less vulnerable areas of manmade
landscapes or situated near residential areas. A wide range of measures
such as signposting, shifting car-parks, banning traffic from certain
roads, information boards, route marking, maintaining desirable routes
and closing down undesirable routes, setting up obstacles such as water-filled
ditches or bushes all make it possible to transfer activities from vulnerable
to more resilient areas without this being noticed by the people concerned.
Supplementary measures towards the restriction of activities to certain
periods of time could be planned.

In many cases problems only arise when the same areas are used excessively
at the same time. Before the use of such areas is banned altogether, the
possibility of restricting numbers of visitors to these areas should be
examined, while taking into account social fairness. In order to avoid
inadequate enforcement, planning possibilities involving the restriction
of infrastructure should be considered (eg. limiting parking capacity,
reducing the number of cable car trips up mountains etc.). In cases where
the pursuit of sports activities causes harm only at particular times,
restrictions during these specific periods should be considered. In this
way, nature conservation requirements during the breeding or moulting
season of birds or vital periods for other animals can be respected without
banning access to areas at other times.

It is also possible to reconcile sport with nature conservation by defining
maximum permissible group sizes, restricting activities to those which
do not pose any threat in the specific situation, declaring certain areas
of countryside off-limits (eg. banks of watercourses), stipulating specific
routes (eg. along watercourses), defining maximum permissible boat lengths
or permissible type of power source or imposing the requirement of producing
specific qualifications.

Voluntary commitments should be given priority for achieving conservation
aims as they provide greater clarity for those involved. If this is not
possible or proves unsuccessful, a wide variety of different solutions
should be implemented. It is the duty of sports organisations and commercial
operators to encourage a considerite attitude to nature and the environment
by providing information about ecological aspects. However, environmental
education processes will only be effective it all those involved are willing
to respect the restrictions and acquire knowledge of nature conservation

Restrictive measures intended to protect vulnerable or over-used natural
areas are successful particularly when attractive alternatives are offered.
These should involve upgrading the land concerned in terms of the aesthetic
appeal of the landscape, ecological and recreational aspects, as well
as selecting locations which avoid the generation of high traffic volumes.
Artificial facilities (eg. climbing walls) for types of outdoor sport
which take place in nature or the countryside provide only partial relief.
They do not provide a substitute for the experience of nature and may
in the long term even serve to increase the use of and thus the pressure
on nature.

The measures suitable for avoiding and resolving conflicts arising in
connection with types of activities pursued in the countryside can be
summarised as follows:

  • Developing binding, uniform and effective regulations in areas which,
    for the sake of nature conservation, must be kept free of any use or
    certain uses
  • Developing and testing effective measures, i.e. measures which can
    be conveyed and controlled, below the level of a ban
  • Shifting activities and facilities to less vulnerable areas
  • Concentrating and managing activities (in terms of location and time)
  • Targeted expansion of supply-oriented planning in resilient areas
    where the countryside should possibly be enhanced
  • Creating artificial alternative and substitute facilities
  • Obliging all sports operators to organise their events and programmes
    such that they are compatible with nature and the environment
  • Systematically informing and educating people practising sport and
    multipliers about the possibilities for pursuing activities without
    affecting nature or the environment

3.2 Sport and physical activity in built-up areas

People who pursue recreational sports activities in nature and the countryside
mainly come from the towns. Both recreational traffic and the activities
themselves can cause considerable damage to the environment. If towns
offer more suitable opportunities for games, sports and physical activities,
it will be possible to ease the pressure on the countryside. Furthermore,
tying more people to the area where they live will help to lower environmentally
harmful traffic volumes. To this end, ways must be sought to better satisfy
the need for physical activity in the vicinity of residential areas.

In order to solve the growing problem of traffic in towns, the aim should
be to set up residential structures that put less pressure on people to
be mobile. A multifunctional approach to town planning gives rise to “towns
with short distances”. When it comes to providing residents with
sports facilities, this means that adequate and attractive opportunities
for sports, games and physical activities for all age groups must be created
or preserved in the vicinity of their homes. These opportunities should
be linked to one another via green belts with foot and cycle paths. The
“strategy of environment-friendly accessibility” is of utmost
importance for areas in the local neighbourhood offering basic opportunities
for games, sports and physical activities. If central areas suitable for
games and sports can be easily and safely reached by bicycle or public
transport by the residents of a large catchments, area, this will reduce
ecological damage due to traffic and cater for the needs of children,
the disabled, the elderly and other groups which do not have regular use
of a car.

The environmental and recreational quality of towns is becoming increasingly
important as a “soft” location advantage.

Only very cautious adjustments are required to semi-natural areas such
as these in order to make them useful. Here there is ample scope for linking
aims of nature conservation and recreation by providing semi-natural areas
which promise excitement and adventure. It is also possible to put buildings
and land to other uses and thus provide facilities for sports and physical
activities without taking up additional land. Redesigning or restructuring
former industrial buildings and estates, for example, opens up opportunities
to improve the range of recreational facilities available in a region.

Earmarking sufficiently large green areas in towns is not only in the
interests of sport (“sports-friendly town”), but also of environmental
protection (“environment­ friendly town”). In the tough battle
over different land uses, the representatives of sport and those of the
environment should join forces to set up a common lobby for more green

3.3 Sports facilities

Sports facilities affect the environment in a variety of different ways.
When describing and assessing them, a distinction can be made between
indoor and outdoor facilities. Compared to sports halls, outdoor facilities
require much more space. How this space is treated is of considerable
significance to the environment. On the one hand, the wrong choice of
location, improper care (over-fertilisation, irrigation using drinking
water, etc.) and unnecessary soil sealing can cause the loss of valuable
habitats and affect the soil and the water balance. On the other hand,
if environmental criteria are taken into account during the planning,
building and maintenance of an outdoor sports facility, especially in
conurbations, this can upgrade the area ecologically (biodiversity, microclimate
etc.) and thus increase the attractiveness of the residential environment.

Sports halls require only about 5% of the area taken up by outdoor facilities.
Excessive energy consumption and water use are the prime causes of environmental
damage in the case of sports halls. At present, an average of about 400,000
kWh of energy per year are required for operating one hall in Germany,
for instance. Today, reduction of energy consumption in sports halls is
mainly concentrated on heating/hot water supply systems, heat insulation
and lighting. Practical examples show that there is considerable potential
in sports facilities for saving energy and water. In order to exhaust
this potential, modern, resource saving technology must be installed and
user habits must be changed. Due to the large savings made as a result,
investments in energy and water often pay off within relatively short
periods. Building renovation, necessary in any case, and new building
plans provide ideal opportunities for installing environment-friendly

If environmental aspects are to be considered regularly and not just
sporadically, operators of sports facilities need systematic environmental
management. Essential elements of such management include the appointment
of an environmental officer, mandatory consideration of environmental
aspects when any decision is made, the introduction of eco-controlling,
as well as regular environmental training courses for staff.

By saving valuable resources, sports facilities designed and run on an
environmentally compatible basis can contribute enormously towards sustainable
development and thus also to the implementation of Agenda 21. This applies
in particular to climate protection through reduction of C02 emissions.

To summarise, the following steps are important for making sports facilities
more ecological:

  • Initiating and supporting green consulting services for sports facility
  • Tying government and association funding for sports facilities (grants
    and loans) to the fulfillment of environmental standards
  • Considering to a greater extent the possibility of making use of existing
    areas and buildings for sports facilities
  • Incorporating environmental management into the work of sports administrations,
    clubs, associations and commercial sports operators.

3.4 Sport and mobility

Just as in other social sub-systems, mobility requirements in sport have
increased significantly over the past years. The reasons are manifold.
Sport has not only grown in general – another important development is
the constant growth in diversity. New types of sport frequently generate
the need for a greater range of different facilities. Reaching new locations
(sports facilities or country areas) demands greater mobility.

This is particularly true in the case of activities pursued in nature
and the countryside, to which soaring numbers of people have been drawn
over many years. Since most people have to travel short or long distances
in order to pursue these kinds of activities, sports and tourism are today
more closely linked than ever before. Nowadays, sport is often even the
principal reason for travel (e.g. skiing holidays), and in other cases
the activities offered are at least an important factor in the choice
of travel destination,

Even in built-up areas, people pursuing sports activities are required
to be more mobile. This is mainly due to the geographical separation of
working, living and leisure. In particular, the fact that sports and leisure
centres are increasingly built on the periphery of towns (in green suburbs)
has increased the distance to and from sports activities. However, sport
is not only to be found in sports facilities, but, particularly in the
towns, in public areas too (parks, play areas in streets, cycle paths
etc.) Due to other priorities in town planning over the past decades,
there is now a shortage of such options. Opportunities for physical activity,
games and sports have been pushed out of town life by new roads and streets,
land sealing etc, and this has resulted in people looking more than ever
beyond the towns for the recreational facilities they need.

The sustainable development of sport requires not only the avoidance
of unnecessary traffic, but also provision and use of means of transport
that are the least harmful to the environment. The goal and the reality
are still very far apart. Mobility in sport today is primarily “auto
mobility”. Sport thus contributes considerably to traffic volumes
and thus also to climate change. Already, more than half of total distances
travelled by cars are travelled during leisure time, of which in turn,
according to a Swiss study, 25% are linked to sport.

With respect to sports activities pursued in the country, two of the
main reasons for the high level of private car use are the considerable
requirements regarding equipment and transport and the difficulties when
using public transport, particularly the limited possibilities for taking
along sports equipment, the lack of transfer facilities between stations
and actual destinations, and the fact that routes and frequency of buses
and trains are inadequate considering the leisure time demand. Amazingly,
however, even in the case of sports activities pursued in built-up areas,
private cars seem to be the absolute number-one means of trans-port, According
to a study carried out at the University of Bayreuth (Germany), three
quarters of organised adult volleyball players’ travel to their training
sessions and home matches by car or motorbike. 55% of the distances in
question, however, are 5 km at the most. Sports associations and clubs
are thus called upon to create the necessary structures for more environment-friendly
mobility on the part of their members and to encourage their members accordingly
to change their habits.

To achieve environment-friendly mobility in sport, the following should
be given priority:

  • enhancing the residential environment and expanding opportunities
    for sport, games and physical activity in public areas within the urban
  • encouraging the use of bicycles (linking sports centres to local cycle
    path networks, setting up safe places to park bicycles at sports facilities
  • making buses and trains more attractive as a means of transport during
    leisure time (routes, timetables, fares, possibilities for transporting
    sports equipment) etc.
  • improving hiring and storage facilities for sports equipment at the
    place of destination
  • increasing the awareness of those doing sports (coaches and instructors
    setting an example, lift-sharing etc.)

3.5 Sports equipment

The growth of sport and its continuing diversification into new kinds
of activity, particularly in the 1980s, led to an explosion in the market
for sports articles. Sports articles today consist of mass products.

Environmental damage can occur at any stage of the life cycle of a sports
article, namely during the acquisition of raw materials, preproduction,
actual production of the article, sales, use and disposal. Until now,
so-called end-of-pipe strategies have been predominant in the sports article
industry: these strategies focus on the subsequent reduction of pollution
that has already occurred.

The development of new sports equipment revolves almost solely around
aspects of function and fashion. Environmental aspects play a role only
in exceptional cases. For the sake of greater functionality in sports
articles, materials are often used which cause substantial ecological
damage even at the time of manu-facture, or which cause problems at the
latest when they are disposed of. The latter applies particularly to so-called
composite materials, which as a rule cannot be recycled back into the
original materials.

Supply and demand influence each other in the sports article industry
too. On the one hand, the industry has adapted its products to the serious
changes in sports and leisure and responded to the consumer’s changed
preferences. On the other hand, the industry has helped to shape sports
trends and consumer behaviour by means of new and ever more spectacular
products. Against this background, marketing sports equipment without
paying heed to the environmental damage it causes and advertisements showing
behaviour that is damaging to nature and even, in some cases, unlawful
are particularly problematic.

A more environmentally aware approach in the sports article industry
should centre on preventative rather than simply corrective environmental
protection measures. Above all, this means giving (in the future) ecological
aspects high priority even at the product development stage. The main
aims should be to minimise negative environmental effects in the life
cycles of all products and to promote substance cycles. Here, the use
of recyclable materials is especially important as is unmixed production
and the easy separability of materials used.

It is not possible to create substance cycles simply through the activities
of sports equipment manufacturers. Instead, there must be very close cooperation
between manufacturers, suppliers and dealers. Such cooperation is an absolute
prerequisite for the production of recyclable products and the development
of a functional collection and recycling system.

The key steps towards greater environmental compatibility in the sports
article industry are as follows:

  • taking ecological aspects (longevity, reparability, recyclability)
    into account even at product development stage
  • elaborating life-cycle analyses for widespread sports articles
  • checking present possibilities for recycling or environment-friendly
    disposal of widespread sports articles
  • setting up a system for collecting and recycling sports equipment
    (when the necessary prerequisites exist)
  • no more depiction by the sports article industry (manufacturers and
    outlets) of environmentally damaging sports activities in their communication
    with consumers (advertising, PR etc.)
  • setting up functional environmental management systems in companies
    in the sports equipment sector
  • spreading information on environmentally sound sport via sports dealers.

3.6 Environmental education

Due to the speed at which our natural basis of life is changing, environmental
education has become one of the major future tasks of mankind. As far
back as 1977, UNESCO declared that environmental education should be an
allembracing, life-long process which actively involves individuals in
the solution of specific problems.

In sport too, the importance of the “future task of environmental
education” is now undisputed. Avoiding and reducing sports-related
environmental damage requires the active involvement of those who pursue
sports activities. Environmental education should both encourage environment-friendly
attitudes and habits among people doing sports and ensure that planning
and legal measures for the protection of the environment are widely accepted
by generating understanding among people doing sport.

Environmental issues have now become part of the curricula of numerous
sports organisations. The purpose of environment- related basic and further
training of, for example, instructors and coaches, is intended to lend
more weight to environmental education, also as part of the normal work
of clubs and associations. The same purpose is being pursued by producing
and disseminating information material among club and association members.

Although they represent only a certain proportion of the people pursuing
sports activities, sports organisations carry special responsibility as
far as environmental education is concerned. They should not only initiate
environmental education processes, even reaching beyond the circle of
their actual members, but should also be willing to impose constraints
upon themselves and to respect limits. Sports associations and clubs and
each individual instructor, coach and supervisor should also set an example
with respect to ecological issues.

Environmental education is one important approach towards resolving and
avoiding conflicts between environment and sport, but is insufficient
on its own. More attention should be paid to the fact that educational
effects can. be produced by the structure and framework within which the
respective sports activity is purr-sued. Thus, information and education
should in future be complemented by the creation of conditions which encourage
environment friendly behaviour, There is a wide variety of opportunities
here, including obliging members to share lifts for away matches, providing
containers for waste separation or installing safe facilities for parking
bicycles (cf. item 3.3 “Sports facilities”).

To summarise, the following steps are especially important for future,
successful environmental education in sport:

  • Drawing up and implementing to a greater extent overall concepts for
    environmental education in which theory and practice are closely linked
  • Putting in place the necessary structures for ensuring adequate and
    high­ quality environmental education
  • Testing models for influencing the environmental behaviour of non-organised
    sportsmen and sportswomen
  • Holding environment-related competitions in sports
  • Developing and implementing models for sport compatible with nature
    and the environment
  • Anchoring environmental communication more firmly in the work of associations
    and clubs and in the dialogue with broad sections of the population.

4. Summary and outlook

Sport can make its own important contribution towards bringing about
the model of sustainable development and thus to the implementation of
Agenda 21 in all countries. To achieve this, sports organisations and
others involved in sport must discuss this model intensively and anchor
it firmly in their work.

Rising numbers of users and the greater and more intense use of nature
and resources (land, energy, water etc.) have undeniably increased the
damage to nature and the environment by sport. At the same time, however,
the range of strategies and measures for avoiding and resolving conflicts
between sport and nature conservation and environmental protection, is
broader than often recognised. The coordinated combination of planning,
educational and legal measures promises to be particularly successful.

In the case of nature-based sports, emphasis should be placed in the
future on developing differentiated concepts for conservation and utilisation
with regard to nature and landscape; these concepts should involve the
adaptation of the type of sport to the features of the natural area. Vulnerable
areas should be kept free of harmful activities and sports activities
should be shifted to less vulnerable but nonetheless attractive landscape.
Legal measures should only be taken if the protection objective so requires
and other mechanisms do not function.

In built-up areas, the priority is to retain and expand areas near homes
for the purpose of physical activity, games and sport. A town offering
a good quality of life must offer ample scope for physical activity. When
sports facilities are built and operated, attention must be paid to the
careful and rational use of resources. In the case of existing sports
facilities, it appears that the potential for reducing energy and water
consumption is not yet exhausted. In the process of planning and setting
up new sports facilities, environmental factors should be ranked higher
than in the past.

Sport is responsible for a significant proportion of all leisure traffic.
Shortening necessary routes by providing facilities near homes is thus
an important starting point for bringing about changes, So far, the main
means of transport for those involved in sports has been the car. The
environmental damage caused by this is often underestimated. It is therefore
extremely important to develop and increase the popularity of more environment-friendly
forms of mobility.

Today, sports articles only very rarely satisfy the conditions for ecological
product design. Thus it is hardly possible to achieve closed substance
cycles. As closed substance cycle management is a central element of sustainable
development, it is also necessary to make changes in this field.

In the search for solutions all parties involved must cooperate. This
concerns above all sports and nature conservation, commercial sports,
politics and administration, trade and industry. Without the constructive
collaboration of these groups, it will hardly be possible to find effective
and generally accepted solutions. It is vital that the group concerned
in each case become involved at an early stage in the search for solutions
to the conflict. However, the active participation of each individual
person pursuing sports activities is also necessary. Thus environment-related
information campaigns among people doing sport should be continued and,
where appropriate, expanded.

2015-03-20T09:06:17-05:00January 10th, 2004|Sports Facilities, Sports Management|Comments Off on Sports and the Environment: Ways towards achieving the sustainable development of sport

The Cross Country Program to Transform Your Team

Scope and Purpose

Cross country runners will improve their performance, and coaches can experience the empowerment of their vocation when pinpointed physiological methods and competitive focusing techniques are bonded together in periodically based training schedules. This seasonal training guide contains a definitive coaching approach to the sport of cross-country and includes a mental awareness component that compliments the physical training. In many instances an unforgettable season can occur not because the coach wins every contest he enters but because the sport of cross-country itself is transformed into a new form of interaction—one in which the composite of the season’s experience is as important as the final team scores.

Our purpose is to promote the cross-country coach to be the teacher, motivator, and central figure for a group of young people attempting to glean the satisfactions and rewards from a challenging sport. This article asks the coach to make a commitment to a new perspective–to focus on the “whole runner’ whether addressing a star performer or any other team member. Both high school and college cross country coaches can benefit from this program that has embedded in its drills and techniques the embodiment of a mind/body training system which delivers measures of success mentally, physically, and even spiritually.

Mapping Out the Season

Cross-country training is a process that starts in the warm summer months and ends in the chill of late autumn. It is above all else an activity of cycles. It is a 13-16 week season during which time the coach and team are beginning with a new base of conditioning and a year ahead full of promise and ambition. This article provides instruction in the workouts, drills, and methods used for each segment of the cross-country season. The suggestions outline an ideal season of training although we will also speak about how to handle injury and setback, so you can learn how to regroup and peak during the championship part of the season. At the end of this article, a means for reviewing how to evaluate the most important elements of the training process is explained.

Planning the Pre-Season

The season’s initial set-up for the high school, college, university, and post-collegiate coach has some dissimilarity. It is recommended that the first pre-season workouts begin on a flat grass field. We hope this minimizes a workout we call “the long sad gray line” which refers to the practice of mostly high school coaches to have their team run for an indiscriminate time along the streets with the lead runner striding smoothly in front and everyone else straggling behind. Rather from the beginning, our method emphasizes selective group training. The coach’s objective is to figure out whom to train with whom, and what workouts, and what sequence of workouts will get the entire team at full throttle when it counts most- during the championship part of the season. The genius of all groupers was Hungarian born Mihlay Igloi who was coach to many star runners who used his method for vast improvement. His mastery could be observed in watching 30 to 40 runners in six or seven groups doing all manner of workouts in different directions and various speeds and finishing the workout together. The successful cross country coach does not have to be this precise, however, understanding the nuances of applying workouts that are physiologically accurate and diverse is at the heart of this program

Segments of the Year Long Program

The flat grass surface should be at least as large as the inside of a football field and if possible accessible to locations for long continuous running. As in all successful periodization training, each segment has a goal, methods, and techniques to achieve a particular result that naturally plateaus before it blends into the next phase of training. The coach teaches new techniques and terms in each phase of the training and the methods are broken down into the physical and mental aspects of the workout. Each new phase of the season will have the group return to the grass field to learn additional techniques that are then integrated into the whole program. The goal is for all aspects of the training and for each runner in the group to reach the zenith of peak performance during the championship phase of the season

Pre-Season Workouts

The initial phase of training is the pre-season that in the U.S. season lasts from July to the end of August. In the pre-season,the goal is to learn the initial techniques that are applied in the interval part of the training plan. Our aim in all phases is to keep all team members injury free as an aerobic base of conditioning is established. The unique training techniques are physical and mental as the team is training physically but also learning how to utilize lung and mental capacities to their maximum potential.

Gaits and Tempos of Running- Initial Drills for Teaching Gaits and Tempos

The pre-season begins with instruction in the application of gaits and tempos methodology. To accomplish this the coach can face the team directly on the grass field and lead or have a team member demonstrate the forms and speeds of running used in our interval training. We all know that effective training takes a sensibility of pace and an understanding of the best forms of running movement to achieve physiological efficiency. Using perhaps a straightaway of 100 meters, the coach explains that a gait is the form of movement during the run and that the tempo is the velocity at which you move. As the coach gives these gaits and tempos names, he is developing a language to communicate his training instructions and a means to carry out his training instructions. Igloi’s terminology works well in this regard as fresh swing tempo is assuming a gait and velocity to go up to about 60% effort. Good swing tempo approaches speeds from 60 to 80%, and hard swing tempo is between 80-95% effort.

During the entire season each training phase has at least one and usually two days of training on this grass field. The terminology however can be used on all surfaces and workouts during the entire season. One of the main reasons for using the gait and tempo with the whole group initially is to make sure each runner has time to “regroup,” so the workout retains group unity. The stopwatch should be used sparingly at the beginning of the season. When used properly, the stopwatch should determine the level of conditioning rather than be a means of setting up workouts to get in shape. In the pre-season, the team learns mid pace running, so as to maximally utilize the Exercise Heart Range (220-age and 60-85% of the target numbers) and avoid sprinting that places the runners’ physiology over the Anaerobic Threshold where it is shutting down its capacities because of the presence of lactic acid.

The three weeks of pre-season will contain two kinds of workouts- intervals and long continuous runs. Interval workouts have a particular sequence of warm-up, stretching, the body of the workout, and a recovery method.

For the warm-up during pre-season, the coach can instruct with the following information.

  • Warm-Up During Pre-Season- After the team jogs together for about 5 minutes; finish the warm-up with a few easy stretches and a technique called the shake-up.

The following stretches are good for starters.

  • Fully Body Swing: Feet shoulder width apart, raise your arms and extend to the sides swinging your entire body from right to left.
  • Grape Picker: Slowly stretch both hands overhead, then stretch your right hand as high as possible, and repeat on the left side as if your were picking grapes
  • Lateral Stretch: Raise right arm straight overhead, palms up as you place your left hand on your left hip. Bend as far as possible to the left while reaching over and down to the left with your right arm. Repeat on the other side.
  • Wall Stretch: Leaning on a wall or tree moves your right foot back about two feet and place your heel down, toes straight, lean into the wall bending the left foot forward and allow your right leg to stretch. Do on the other side.
  • Skip and Shake-Up: On the grass field take a distance of maybe 60 meters begin by skipping as a child skips, only raising your knees a bit higher. Shake up by letting your muscles hand like a rag doll, and every so often throw your hands over your head and to the sides but stay mainly on your toes to loosen up our body and elevate your heartbeat to get ready for the workout. Up and down the 60 meters about 4 times is usually good to complete the warm-up.

Begin the first workout by teaching the difference between fresh, good and hard swing. Have your team run at the various tempos and they will naturally assume the gait that accomplishes the objective. The coach will do perhaps three or four 100-meter intervals with a rest period between each so the group can regather together after each segment.

Introduction of the breathing drills

Breathing Drills- Our Breath is our Awareness

The breathing techniques are taught on the grass field using the concept of the acceleration point. Usually accomplished just once at the point of acceleration, the technique known as tidal breathing propels the runner into a faster tempo half way into the interval. The coach can explain the following breathing principles to his team while standing in front of them on the grass field.

The coach can tell the team to remember that:

  • the exhale is the starting point of all breathing techniques. The sound of the exhale should reverberate like the sound of a hollow log.
  • when you use the full capacity of your lungs, your breathing begins in the diaphragm and rises to the top of your chest filling up like a balloon.
  • stored breath released properly can help accelerate you forward.
  • relaxing your lungs when stationary in between parts of the workout accelerates physical recovery.

The technique of tidal breathing teaches the runner to fill his lungs to capacity, store it for a moment, and then spring forward into a faster gait thereby increasing speed and achieving a higher heart rate without greater exertion. On the grass field, the coach can stand in front of his team and give the following instructions. “Exhale all the air out of your lungs somewhat forcefully, and then bring your arms up the sides of your body to your chest. Store the oxygen for a split moment as you imagine the fullness to the top of your throat, then turn your palms over, exhale and drive your body forward.”

Teach tidal breathing by having the group begins running at a fresh swing and at the acceleration point doing a tidal breath, which accelerates them into a good swing tempo. Tidal breathing drills have the extra capacity to allow the runners to become more aware of their lung capacity and training aid potential

The Surge Technique

Using the same location of the grass field, another technique used in the training and applied in racing to accelerate is the surge. Again on the grass field the surge allows the runners to propel forward by pressing your thumb and first finger together like a gas pedal on a car making the sound of ‘ping’ in your throat and flying forward. This technique always gets a laugh, as the coach can explain it is like pouncing forward like a tiger. Of course physiologically, your heartbeat goes to the top of the exercise heart range when you surge.

Workout Recovery

How the runners finish a workout is as or more important than how one starts. This recovery sets the day for the next workout and is part of the entire sequence of a training segment. The technique called the Full Body Recovery lets the runners “check out” their physicality, and because they are relaxed at the end of the session, it provides the coach an opportunity to begin introducing ‘positive suggestions’ that can be built later in the season into a mental exercise that prepares the team for the championships. By tightening and relaxing each part of the runner’s body beginning in the feet and rising all the way up to the runners head, a physical awareness of each section of the body becomes apparent. For instance, while the group is mingling after the training, have them stand in a semi circle and close their eyes and begin by saying, “imagine a color. A cool refreshing color. It might be gold, green, or soft blue or any color that you identify with becoming refreshed. As you are thinking of this color, press your toes, then your heels to the ground, and squinch up your feet. Imagine the color leaving from your toes when you relax.”

At the end of the recovery, as their eyes are closed, you might have the runners begin to imagine themselves “running with perfect form, and feeling strong, fluid, and in control.”

Typical Pre-Season Workout

Following the day of instruction in which you introduced the gaits, tempos, and other techniques, the pre-season conditioning for 3-4 weeks can include variations of the following:

  • Long continuous distance from 30 to 50 minutes (usually in fresh swing)
  • One longer run that will be 1½ times as far as the regular continuous run
  • On the grass field measure out distances from 60 meters to 400 meters in combinations such as 110, 150, 220, 260, 300, and 400 meters. The short intervals in sets program can have the following elements:

    10 minutes of jogging.
    Interval Segment from 80 to 400 meters using the interval language with sections that express workouts like:

    6 times 100 (50 fresh/50 good swing with tidal breath at junction).
    Finish with full body recovery.

Typical Pre-Season Week

  • Three days of continuous running from 30-one hour a day (a collegiate runner may run twice a day, etc)
  • One day of 1 ½ times longest run (For top runner this can be as long as two hours)
  • Two days of short intervals in sets (high school workout should be about 30 minutes, top runners can have interval workouts as long in duration as 1 hour and twenty minutes
  • One day of active rest or a very short easy run.

Techniques for the pre-season include: gaits and tempos, acceleration point, tidal breathing, stretches, skips shake-ups, surging, full body recovery. Optimum use of the exercise heart range and avoiding the anaerobic threshold.

Early Competition phase- Late August to the End of September

Proper running locations are necessary for maximizing results. For the early competition phase, the coach should add:

  • A loop of a mile or so of grass if possible that is relatively flat.
  • A trail that is about 30 minutes of undulating surfaces that contain some but not many hills.
  • Keep the grass field.
  • Have your continuous run trail that leaves from your front door.

The grass field introductory methods of this phase introduce the mental aspects of the training program. The thing to remember when tapping into the imagination of your team’s mental capacities to make practice more fun and enjoyable and transfers to all kinds of situations. Using your mental capacities is like training your body. It takes time and persistence, and your runners improve in increments.

The Mental Training Workout

The coach has introduced mental training techniques during the full body recovery. The team has closed their eyes and placed their mind’s eye inside their body to review their condition after the workout. On the grass field, the group has had at least six workouts of using short intervals in sets, and now we will add a few new mental awareness applications to the workouts.

The technique used in mental training on the grass field is called active visualization, and it uses the methods of soft eyes and the principles of push and pull imagery to attain the desired results. To teach the soft eyes technique, have the team stand still with their eyes closed and in their mind’s eye visualize a bird flying over a mountain- notice the smoothness of his feathers, every detail of his flight movement. Next, have the team open their eyes slightly, so they can see out and at the same time keep the image of the bird in their mind. When the team applies this to an interval run,remember this technique should only be done in a safe environment and never on a street where there are cars present or you can trip over a curb.

  • The Hand Push Drill. Have your team stand in front of you on the grass field, and after placing them in soft eyes mode, have them visualize a hand coming out of the sky. Tell them that the hand is round them and supports your whole body. Tell the runners to lean back into the hand and feel its support. Feel it all the way up your body with the top of your hand supporting your neck. Lean back into the hand for support, so that when you begin running at fresh or good swing, the hand is doing most of the work, and you are just being carried along. Feel the hand guide you up the field. This active visualization can help you when you are struggling during a race or hard practice. Moreover, you will find that the techniques effectiveness is increased using a cue to signify the end of a particular segment. To do this uses the wipe away technique by brushing your fingertips across your eyes to return to normal viewing.
  • Rope Pull Forward. On the same grass field, the coach will have the team close their eyes and face up the field towards a goal or soccer goal, tree, or any non-movable object. Face the post with soft eyes and imagine there is a harness around your body from your waist up to your chest. Actually go through the motion of throwing a harness around the post while you are in soft eyes mode and have it be connected directly to your body. Actually feel the tug of the rope as it wants to pull you towards it. Have the runners raise their hands, and when they drop it, have it signify that they are being pulled towards the post. Run towards the post at fresh or good swing, and when the run is complete, use the wipe away technique to condense and finish the segment of the workout.

Speed Play Drills

One the one-mile grass loop or the undulating trail the following two techniques can add camaraderie and structure to the workouts. The manner of speed play, going at various tempos at your own discretion, is an excellent way to reach diverse physiological goals. The following are two-speed play drills. They are called energy transfer and the 24-step formula. The first utilizes the concept of natural body heat or energy into a partner games, and the second has a duo or individual increase the heart beat into higher aspects of the exercise heart range.

  • Energy Transfer Drill. Have your team learn the energy transfer drill going up and down the flat grass field, and then they can transfer it to the one-mile grass oval or undulating trail. Begin the game of ‘energy transfer’ by facing each other, possibly with soft eyes. Rub your hands together and then place them over each other, noticing how far apart each hand must be from the other while still maintaining contact signified by the heat generated between your hands. Speed play is put into effect when one partner drops his/her hands and faces up the field while the other takes the energy into his/her own hands and places it into the other person’s. As the runner goes behind the partner to a designated spot or distance, one partner stops and faces the other maintaining the “heat” by the rubbing together of two hands and when “recharged” runs back to the starting point or next spot on the trail. This is a fun way to get your heartbeat into the top of your exercise heart range. Sometimes if you have a boys and girls team you can let them match up, and it is a little like going to the dance.
  • The 24 Step Formula is another speed play workout in prescribed “mix” of segments of 24 steps in cadence of light, moderate, and brisk tempos of walking, jogging, or running. The term 24 steps refer to the number of steps taken in each cycle of the workout. The method has nine perambulations:

    Walk: light, moderate, brisk
    Jog: light, moderate, brisk
    Run: light, moderate, brisk

If one were to move through a complete sequence, there would be eight changes of pace within 216 strides. The 24 steps refer to the cadence when the 24 Step formulas come into play. Count from one to twelve on each strike of the left or right foot. At twelve, announce the cycle such as light, moderate, or brisk to yourself. There may be a few steps of adjustment when going from a brisk back to a light cycle.

You can have your team utilize the 24 step formula method as a speed play workout or with a partner. It can be the second part of a continuous workout or as a speed play through the wooded trails.

Workouts in the Early Season

  • Continuous runs from the house from 30-50 minutes.
  • One or two days on the grass field utilizing gaits, tempos, breathing techniques, surging, and active visualization.
  • On the one-mile grass loop, you can do energy transfers with a partner or 24 steps. Also another good speed play is a few minutes of fresh or good swing with a break like 3 minutes fresh swing, one-minute jog or walk.
  • Sunday run should be 1½ times farthest run.
  • Continuous runs on the trails.

Your team will have run probably two or three tune-up races, and you may have a person or two hurt or at least somewhat injured at this juncture in the season.

What To Do With Your Injured

There are many forms of therapy from chiropractic care, massage, physical therapy, orthotics, and acupuncture. All and any can be helpful to your hurt or injured athlete. However, the best advise for the coach trying to keep his cross country team in tact without a big gap in the score is to separate out your injured and put them on their own program. It may sound simplistic, but the best advise to give a coach being driven mad with injury is to have your runner do the same workout every day while injured and at a location where he can stop whenever the pain is getting worse rather than better. Whether it is jogging on the one mile grass or doing fresh swing tempos back and forth, the runner knows how the injury is progressing in its healing process if his body knows exactly what to do each day and can gauge to go further or less. When the runner is improving, slowly integrate him or her back into the group but not too quickly or in a competitive situation.


During the racing season you can continue to meet on the grass field once a week for the short interval in sets workouts using all the gaits, tempos, and other techniques at your disposal. You can add two new workouts.

  • Continuous workouts remain the same, and you can lighten up to fresh swing on any to recover for the more difficult or precise.
  • On the grass or dirt one mile loop, measure out about 2/3 of the way around and have your team run at about 80% good swing anywhere from 3 to 6 times. You might want to break the team into two or three smaller groups. Time the run but also pay attention to the rest period and keep it to a jog if you can.
  • Let your long run remain 1½ times the continuous and let it be bit slower than before.
  • Two or three times during the 4 week period, have your team run up a gradual hill and find a flat space at the top or on an adjacent field and do about 4 times 100 meters at good swing.
  • Rest easy for meets and try to do them only every two weeks, so that you can alternative a 14-day cycle with two days of rest on either side of a 10-day period.

Tips: Continue to keep the full body recovery after at least 50% of the workouts and begin expanding the suggestions in the end phase by saying statements such as: you are feeling better and better with each race, or notice how you are rounding into shape so nicely.

The Championship Part of the Season

In the championship part of the season, you can return to the grass field and go back into a training pattern resembling the pre-season. Over the last 10 days, we will introduce a mental training for the event.

Add the following workouts

  1. On the grass field, add a set of fast 60 to 80 meter hard swings with long rest walk back runs.
  2. For one of the continuous workouts, have the whole group run together in a “pack” to gain team spirit
  3. Cease hill climbing and do one workout of only 2 or 3 times the 1000 meter run with a long rest and no pressure on the group for time (but they will run fast anyway)

Event Rehearsal

10 days before the championship, bring the team together and talk about the championship course. Ask them to write down the flowing or challenging parts of the course or have the coach write down the responses. Have the coach strategize how to break the course down into three parts- the start, mid, and finish of the race. Write down a script that covers all the aspects of the race. Some tips are to have the runners “feel strong and fluid”, “get into a bubble at the beginning of the start to get a perfect run out,” “notice the time they would like to achieve and see it on the scoreboard, finishing strong and under control.” Do the event rehearsal at least three times in the last ten days and the night before the race. It is best to do it the last time before you go to the course. If you go to stay over night before the big race, that is the perfect time for the last event rehearsal

Summary and final review

In my fifteen years of coaching, I have found various approaches and methods that insure success, both from a personal as well as professional perspective. These approaches can be separated into two distinct and wholly dissimilar philosophies that represent the likelihood of success or failure. These two cycles are the cornerstones for success or failure. They are: The Cycle of Imminent Defeat and the Cycles of Impending Success. The coach is responsible for which of these cycles he chooses.

The coach will invite a greater likelihood of failure if the:

  • team does not participate in pre-season conditioning.
  • practice does not start on time and tardiness by the team is acceptable
  • coach does not address emotional and psychological distractions.
  • coach fails to plan workouts and to provide training schedules to all participants.
  • coach loses sight of the overall purpose of the season.
  • coach does not keep the overall health and well being of his team paramount.


By studying the above cornerstones of success in review, it does well to look at the elements of the program and realize how paying attention to each segment almost guarantees success. If you start the season with an overall well conditioned team and create a program that leaves room for them to grow personally and psychologically within the context of the planned schedule, you are on the right track. When you provide every avenue for making good decisions with the welfare of each runner in mind, success will surely come your way. Watch the athletes as they mature in the program and listen closely to how they are responding and what they are saying and being successful at team cross country is one of the most rewarding experiences in all sport.

2016-04-01T09:47:25-05:00January 9th, 2004|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Coaching, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Management|Comments Off on The Cross Country Program to Transform Your Team

Speed Training Program for High School Football Players


The objective of this program was to improve the 40-yard sprint time in junior varsity and varsity high school football players. A 4-½ week speed-training program was designed for 38 high school athletes. The athletes participated 3 days per week in the program. The program consisted of specific form running on a 40-yard course at various downhill degrees of slope in addition to the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training. Each participant was timed on a flat track prior to the start of the training program and upon its completion. The overall results showed an average decrease in time in the 40-yard sprint of 0.188 seconds (range +0.01 to -0.9). All but 5 participants demonstrated an improved time. These results suggest that a standardized training program emphasizing acceleration, starting ability, stride rate, speed endurance, and stride length can improve performance in the 40-yard sprint.

Speed Training Program for High School Football Players

Football is a game that requires skill and speed. Speed is the ability to perform a movement within a short period of time (Neiman, 1995). Speed training is an important football related skill related component of physical fitness which enables a player to move from one point to another with faster response time. It has been shown that to improve speed each athlete needs to work on acceleration, starting ability, stride rate, speed endurance, and stride length (Mackenzie, 2001). To measure the affect of structured training on young athletes, a training program was carried out over 4 ½ weeks. A seven-step model developed by Dintiman, Ward, and Tellez (1998) was adapted for this program. The steps in this model are listed in Table 1. These steps were incorporated through stretching, downhill running, and agility exercises. (See Table 3)



This training program was tested on 38 young male high school players who played junior varsity and/or varsity football.


At the start of the training program, each player was timed running a 40-yard sprint on a straight flat track. Each player’s time was measured and recorded using a manual stop watch.

During Week One, in addition to the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training, 12 40-yard sprints were ran on a straight flat surface on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

During Week Two, participants ran twelve 40-yard sprints downhill at an 8 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training, keeping to the 3 day a week training schedule.

The third week involved running the twelve 40-yard sprints downhill at a 16 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training on Monday and Wednesday. On Friday and the following Monday of the fourth week, the players ran the 40-yard sprint downhill at a 24 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training. On Wednesday and Friday of the fourth week, the players ran the 40-yard sprints downhill at a 32 degree slope along with the normal workout of agility and lateral speed training. On the last day of training, prior to timing the players progress, they ran downhill 40-yard sprint with a 40 degree slope.


On the next training day, the participants were timed running the 40-yard sprint on a flat surface. Each time was measured using a manual stop watch. Their overall time improved by 0.188 seconds (range +0.01 to -0.9 seconds). The results are listed in Table 2.


This program incorporated the ideas from Secrets of Russian Sprint Training (Occhipinti, 2001). The program’s focus was to train the body beyond its normal capacity. The overall goal was to improve speed. This program was carried out over an eight week program. The speed work was performed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with the weight training days being scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It was important that the athlete warm – up and work on flexibility to reduce the chance of injury throughout the program.

The football program was incorporated into this format with a shorter training cycle. As a result, the football program demonstrates that downhill sprints help improve leg speed. The participating athletes improved their stride rate, stride length, and speed endurance over the 4 ½ week training program as measured by their improved times in the 40-yard sprint. This indicates that this type of speed training program will be successful in reducing times in the 40 yard sprint.

Table 1.
Speed Training Steps

STEP 1: Basic training. this step develops all qualities of human movement to a level that provide a solid base on which to build each successive step. It includes programs to increase body control, strength, muscle endurance, and sustained effect.STEP 2: Functional strength and explosive movements against medium to heavy resistance. Maximum power is trained by working in an intensity range of 55 to 85 percent of your maximum intensity (1RM).STEP 3: ballistics. This step focuses on high speed sending and receiving movements.

STEP 4: Plyometrics. This rep focuses on explosive hoping, jumping, bounding, hitting, and kicking.

STEP 5: Sport loading. This step focuses on precision loading at high speed. The intensity is 85 to 100 percent of maximum speed.

STEP 6: Sprinting form and speed endurance. This step focuses on sprinting technique and improving the length of time you are abler to maintain your speed.

STEP 7: Over speed training. This step involves systematic application of sporting speed that exceeds maximum speed by 5 to 10 percent through the use of various over speed training techniques.

Adapted from Dintman, Ward, & Tellez.( 1998). Sports Speed. ( 2nd ed.)

Table 2.
Results of 40-Yard Sprint
average: 0.188 (range +0.01 to -0.9)

. image004
Figure 1. Success rate of the speed training program for high school football players

Table 3.
Speed Improvement Drills
1. 50-yard progressions: begin with a light jog, progressing up to 40 percent of maximum speed for the first 25 yards; then progress up to 60 percent of maximum the last 25 yards. Repeat the previous exercise four times, progressing as follows:First 25 Yards…Second 25 YardsSecond run: 50% max speed..70% max speed

Third run: 60% max speed..80% max speed

Fourth run: 70% max speed..90% max speed

Fifth run: 80% max speed..100% max speed

2. High knees: upright body position, good running form, emphasis on exaggerated knee lift at least parallel to the ground, Drill: Distance of 25 yards, 3 reputations, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

3. Butt Kicks: kick heels to buttocks in rapid secession using lower leg action only for the recommended distance. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

4. Crazy legs: Straddle on imaginary line and step laterally (sideways) right foot over left, left over right, etc. while moving in place. Drill: do for 15 seconds, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

5. Power Slides: stand erect, feet together. With left foot, step to your left, really stretching out. Now slide the right foot to the left foot, maintaining contact with the ground. Repeat drill starting with the right foot. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 4 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

6. Carioca: shoulders square, bring feet together and move laterally using a cross over step for the recommended distance. Drill: distance of 25 yards 4 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

7. Quick feet: quick feet drills are just fast carioca. Drill: do for 15 seconds, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

8. Jumping: stand erect; jump up and touch your chest with your knees. Drill: do for 15 seconds, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

9. Bounding: keeping your feet together, make giant forward hops. The emphasis in bounding to gain maximum height as well as horizontal distance. Pump your arms as you bound forward. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

10. Power skipping: high knee skip. Use exaggerated forward skipping motion. Left knee, right arm up. Right knee, left arm up. Drill: distance of 25 yards, 3 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

11. Sprinting: all out sprints. Drill: distance of 50 yards, 5 repetitions, 30 seconds of rest between repetitions.

Adapted from Phelps, Scott 2000, Speed Training.


Dintiman, G., Ward, B., Tellez, T. (1998). Sports Speed. ( 2nd ed.). Illinois: Human Kinetics.

Bennett, Steve. “Sprint Training Ideas 100m, 200m, & 400m.” Sydney Athletics. (30 June 2001).

Bennett, Steve. “Sprint Training Ideas for the Developing Athlete.” Sydney Athletics. 2001. (30 June 2001).

Dunton, Ross. “The Basics.” Speed Training. 1999 (5 July 2001).

MacKenzie, B. (2001, March). Speed Training Sports Coach [On-line] Available

Neiman, D. (1995). Fitness and Sports Medicine: A health-related approach. ( 3rd ed.). Mountain View, California, Mayfield Publishing Company.

Occhipinti, Mark J. “Secrets of Russian Sprint Training.” Sports Specific. 2001. (30 June 2001).

Phelps, Scott M. “Linear Speed Basics.” Speed Quest Instruction, Inc. 2001. (5 July 2001).

Phelps, Scott M. “Speed Training.” Speed Quest Instruction, Inc. 2001. (5 July 2000).

Philippe, Josian. “Athletics and Team Sports,” Speed for Sport. 2001. (5 July 2001).

2017-04-18T08:55:46-05:00January 8th, 2004|Sports Coaching, Sports Exercise Science, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Speed Training Program for High School Football Players

The Changing Role of Local Television Sports

Submitted by: Dr. Brad Schultz & Mary Lou Sheffer


A study was conducted to assess how the sports segment within the local television newscast is changing. Literature suggests that many stations are eliminating or otherwise revising the sports segment in response to industry conditions.

Results indicated changes but more in terms of style and presentation than in time allotment. The sports segment is emphasizing more localism and appealing to casual fans. Major factors for change were audience ratings and competition from all-sports networks. The implication of these changes for the broadcast industry and journalism education were discussed.


If there has been a constant throughout the history of television in the U.S., it has been local news. Almost from the time stations first signed on the air, they began delivering local news in which sports has always had an integral role. Lacking a consistent source of programming in these early days, many stations turned to sports to fill their broadcasting schedule. WNBT television in New York signed on the air in July 1941, and its very first telecast was a professional baseball game (“NBC history,” 2003). In developing local newscasts to suit their audiences, these stations usually included sports and weather. In 1961, for example, WKMG started the first full-time news department in Orlando. The newscast included a sports report by Frank Vaught (“The history of,” 2003).

Sports maintained an unchallenged position in the local newscast for several years, but recent trends within the industry have called this position into question. Fragmenting audiences, changing demographics, and declining news profitability have caused stations to reexamine their local sports segment. “Sports is one of the last areas of TV where people do things the way they’ve always done them,” says television executive Elliott Wiser. “(Today) you have to have a new approach” (Deggans, 2000).

The Problem for Local TV News

Several factors have combined to threaten the supremacy of television as the main provider of news for Americans. According to a study conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (2002), television newscasts are losing viewers. In 1998, two-thirds of stations reported a decline in viewership for their local newscasts. By 2002, that number had risen to 76%. Even in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in September 2001, local news viewership fell seven percent.

The emergence of media sources such as the Internet, cable channels, and home satellite has given viewers a news alternative. According to research from the Radio and Television News Director’s Association (“Changing channels,” 1996), a “significant portion of the public tunes into a variety of other sources on a regular basis.”

As more and more stations become controlled by larger media companies, local television news has also become more bottom-line oriented. In the first few weeks of 2002, for example, three station groups decided to completely eliminate local news at their subsidiary stations (Trigoboff, 2002). “I think there’s going to be a shakeout,” said television news consultant Jim Willi. “Do we really need to have four or five newscasts in the same market at the same time?” (Trigoboff, 2002).

The Problem for Local TV Sports

None of this is good news for the local television sports segment which has come under increasing scrutiny from station executives. Despite its traditional presence within the local newscast, sports has long been considered a “tune out” factor. A survey by the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation indicated that only 31% of viewers said they were ‘very interested’ in the sports segment while 32% said they were ‘somewhat interested’ (“Journalism and ethics,” 1998). This compared to 72% who expressed an interest in the weather. “Sports is extremely polarizing,” said television news consultant Brent Magid. “The majority can either take it or leave it, or despise it” (Greppi, 2002).

Research suggests that women have much less interest in the sports segment compared to men (Gantz and Wenner, 1991, Perse, 1992), and many stations have acted accordingly. In 2000, WTSP in Tampa dropped sports from both of its early evening newscasts. According to station news director Jim Church, “Telling a story when nobody’s listening is not a good use of air time” (Deggans, 2000).

While some stations have eliminated sports, others have reduced the time allotted for it. Depending on the day of the week (weekends get more sports time), sports segments have traditionally received anywhere from three to five minutes of the local newscast. Now that number has dropped to as little as a minute. In 2002, KDKA in Pittsburgh reduced its time commitment to only three and a half minutes of sports for its three hours of news. Others in the industry have implemented new approaches such as sports stories that focus more on people than scores, or that cater to more of a news audience. “What we’re trying to do now is treat sports more as news,” says KDKA news director Al Blinke. “We want to do the stuff that transcends sports” (Finder, 2002).

Research Questions and Methodology

These conditions prompted the following research questions:

RQ1: Is local television sports changing, and if so, how?

RQ2: What factors are most responsible for causing this change?

RQ3: Where does local television sports appear headed in the future?

These questions were investigated with a national stratified sample of 340 news directors. News directors were chosen because they are the ones with direct control over placement, time allotment and presentation style of the local sports. In total, 163 valid responses were collected for a response rate of 49%.


Most stations (84%) reported that the local sports segment within their major evening newscast gets three to four minutes, and the time for sports is declining slightly. In addition, not many stations (70%) were willing to completely eliminate the sports segment from their newscasts.

While time did not appear to be a factor, stations are considering changes to style, presentation, and content. The overwhelming response was more emphasis on local sports coverage and less coverage of national sports (62%), followed by more feature-oriented stories (14%).

The results of a correlation indicated that audience perception of the sports segment (r=.45, r2 = .20, p < 0.01) and ratings (r = .43, r2 = .18, p < 0.01) were the most influential factors for stations that changed the time allotted for sports. The higher the audience ratings and perception of the sports segment, the more time the station devoted to sports. Stations that viewed other all-sports networks as detrimental (r = -.40, r2 = .16, p < 0.01) were much more likely to reduce the time allotted to sports. A multiple regression indicated that after controlling for financial stability and audience perception, audience ratings (b = -.11, p = .04) and all-sports networks (b = -.29, p < .001) were significant predictive factors.

The majority of news directors (63%) believed that the sports segment will decline in importance and time allotment in the future. Another 27% said that no significant changes will take place, while only 2% said that sports would increase in time and importance.


The changes taking place in the sports segment have more to do with content, style, and presentation than time allotment. Perhaps in an effort to offer viewers a contrast to all-sports networks, local television sports is focusing more on local stories, athletes, and events and making its coverage more feature-oriented and viewer friendly for the casual sports fan. Typical of the responses was the news director in the Midwest who commented, “We want sports to be interesting to non-sports fans. Here, sports is news, is community. Give the viewer local as opposed to anything the many cable sports channels offer. Only we can go local. They can’t.”

As for the future of local television sports, news directors were more pessimistic which suggests two distinct time frames for this study-now and in the near future, and while local television sports seems safe, news directors have it on a very short leash. One news director noted, “I considered eliminating the sports department and reallocating those resources to put more news gatherers on the street. I am reluctant to do so now, but may in the future.”


Changes in local sports may be a reflection of the tremendous upheaval going on throughout broadcast news. If the sports segment is no longer safe, what does that say for other news elements? “[All of this] forces us to reexamine the [news] model,” said CBS Group News Vice President Joel Cheatwood (Trigoboff, 2002).

On a more immediate level, changes in the local sports segment directly affect thousands of aspiring sportscasters. Stations that are reducing their commitment to sports are also reducing their sports staffing levels which has an impact on the job market. “[Sports in the newscast] is dying,” said another news director. “We have gone from two full time sports people to one full time and one who works news three days a week, and keeping that position has been a fight.”

Just as important, the change in the way sports is presented requires would-be sports broadcasters to learn new methods. No longer can sportscasters focus on scores; they must make their presentation more engaging for the casual fan. This is also important for journalism schools around the country which must take note of what stations want in a sports segment and update their teaching curricula.

Will these changes work or even last? Commenting on KDKA’s changes, sportswriter Chuck Finder (2002) noted, “Let’s reserve final judgment until September, when the Steelers, college and high school football seasons fully get underway. We’ll see then if the station . errs in clock management.”


Changing channels: Young adults, Internet surfers and the future of the news audience. (1996). Radio and Television News Directors Association. Retrieved November 15, 2002, from:

Deggans, Eric. (2000, April 27). Local TV eliminating some sports reports. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved December 11, 2000, from: 042700/Sports/Local_TV_eliminating_.shtml

Finder, Chuck. (2002, July 18). The big picture: KDKA-TV alters sports approach. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved November 20, 2002, from:

Gantz, Walter and Wenner, Lawrence. (1991). Men, women and sports: audience experiences and effects. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. 35, (2), 233-243.

Greppi, Michelle. (2002, August 19). Time out for sports? Local stations debate how much coverage viewers really want. New Orleans Times-Picayune, p. 9.

Journalism and ethics integrity project. (1998). Radio and Television News Directors Foundation. Retrieved January 13, 1999, from:

Local TV news project. (2002). The Project for Excellence in Journalism. Retrieved November 15, 2002, from:

NBC history. (2003). WNBC television. Retrieved January 9, 2003, from:

Newsroom profitability survey. (2001). Radio and Television News Directors Association. Retrieved March 18, 2003, from:

Perse, Elizabeth. (1992). Predicting attention to local television news: need for cognition and motives for viewing. Communication Reports. 5, (1), 40-49.

The history of WKMG-TV. (2003). WKMG Television. Retrieved January 9, 2003, from:

Trigoboff, Dan. (2002, February 11). Live at 11? Maybe not for long. Broadcasting & Cable, p. 3.


2016-04-01T09:46:52-05:00January 7th, 2004|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Management, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on The Changing Role of Local Television Sports

Olympic Education

1 Introduction

“Olympic education” is a term which first appeared in sports education and Olympic research only in the 1970s (cf, N. MOLLER 1975b). Does “Olympic education” mean the revival of the educational ideals of ancient Greece, or is its purpose merely to bring credibility to the marketing of Olympic symbols? The question must be answered in terms of principles, and the answer ranges deep into the history and concept of the modern Olympic Movement. Its founder, the Frenchman Pierre DE COUBERTIN (1863-1937), saw himself first and foremost as an educator, and his primary aim was educational reform (cf, RIOUX 1986). His aim, initially restricted to France and the French schools, was to make modern sport an integral part of the school routine, and so introduce into that routine a sports education which would embrace both body and mind. He had learned from modern sport in England, and especially from his knowledge of public school education at Rugby, that the moral strength of the young can be critically developed through the individual experience of sporting activity and extended from there to life as a whole. COUBERTIN did not use the term “Olympic education”, but referred initially to “sporting education”, and indeed that was the title of the book he published in 1922, Pedagogie sportive. Since as early as 1900, and not exclusively within schools, he had been encouraging the idea of making sport accessible to adolescents and even to older people as a newly discovered part of a complete education (cf. COUBERTIN 1972).

2 Peace education as a starting point

As a young man, in 1892, COUBERTIN had had the idea of renewing the ancient Olympic Games, which duly took place in Athens in 1896. Whereas his educational aspirations had additionally been confined to France, the success of these first Olympic Games marked, for COUBERTIN, the internationalization of his educational visions, where his main priority at first was the idea of “peace among nations”. In his early writings, he refers to international sporting encounters as “the free-trade system of the future” (COUBERTIN 1967, 1), seeing the participating athletes as “ambassadors of peace” (COUBERTIN 1891), even though by his own admission he still had to take care, at the time of the founding of the IOWA in 1894, not to say too much about this, not wanting – as he says in a document that has come down to us – to ask too much of sportsmen or to frighten the pacifists. With his ideas of peace, however, COUBERTIN associated an ethical mission which, then as now, was central to the Olympic Movement and – if it were to succeed – had to lead to political education. On the threshold of the 20th century, COUBERTIN tried to bring about enlightened internationalism by cultivating a non-chauvinistic nationalism (cf, QUANZ 1995). It is precisely the relationship between nationalism and international peace – a one-sided one hitherto, because invariably regarded as a contradiction in terms – that forms the challenging peace ethos and fascination of Olympism. From the beginning, COUBERTIN’s sights were set upon an interplay between nations united by enthusiasm for peace and an internationalism that would set a ceremonial seal on their peaceful ambitions. In these ambitions he was influenced by his paternal friend Jules SIMON. SIMON had been a co-founder of the Interparliamentary Union, established in Paris in 1888, and the International Peace Bureau, founded in 1892 (cf, QUANZ 1995, 170 et seq. ). COUBERTIN’s plans thus extended from the outset beyond the organizing of Olympic Games every four years. He wanted mankind in the 20th century to experience sport in the harmonious interplay of physical and intellectual skills, so that – set in an artistic, aesthetic frame – it would make an important contribution to human happiness. The participants in the Olympics were, to COUBERTIN, the models of a young generation that changed every four years.

3 “Religio athletae” as an anthropological foundation

The question of the content and purpose of an “Olympic education” can only be answered if we consider COUBERTIN’s call for a contemporary application of the “religio athletae” (cf. NISSIOTIS 1987). COUBERTIN advocated the knowledge of Greek and other European philosophy. The return to antiquity was his starting point, though with the option of adapting it to the modern age as far as possible. COUBERTIN was an eclectic: he read a little of everything, hunted out subjects that interested him and so formed his own opinion. He engaged in a continuous “dialogue” with the events of his age, from which he formed his “Olympic ideal”. Three aspects played an important part in this:

(1) COUBERTIN’s age no longer had any schools of philosophy of its own. HEGEL had been the last proponent of an all-embracing philosophical system. COUBERTIN followed HEGEL in his ideas about the application of philosophy to life, actions and morals. (2) The social issue came to a head in that period with the ideas of Karl MARX and the Russian October Revolution of 1917; previously, COUBERTIN had already absorbed the ideas of the French social reformer Frederic LE PLAY and the English historian Arnold TOYNBEE. COUBERTIN himself considered himself to be travelling a road between idealism and social philosophy towards a new realism, with romantic overtones, which had displaced the philosophy of positivism and become established as a “new science” within the universities. (3) The spirit of internationalism, or universalism as it was not infrequently known, went hand in hand with the development of the mass media and transport and telecommunications links. World exhibitions (Paris 1889 and 1900, St. Louis 1904) promoted international exchange and comparisons.

As COUBERTIN saw it, this new world called for a comprehensive worldwide “philosophy”, which could better be described as an “ideology” (MALTER 1969). The Dominican friar Henri DIDON, probably the strongest influence on COUBERTIN apart from SIMON, introduced him to the spirit of ecumenism propagated by his Order (cf, N. MOLLER 1996b). This was the origin of COUBERTIN’s idea of universalism, to which by syncretic transfiguration he gave the name of “Olympism”. But COUBERTIN’s postulate was and remained Greek philosophy. He was a philhellene (cf. MOLLER 1986). As a result, his ideas were at odds both with the non-philosophical aspects of antiquity and with modern European philosophy. In his view, Greek philosophy was not a theory of life but life itself. In his reconstruction of COUBERTIN’s ideas, the Greek religious philosopher NISSIOTIS points out that, according to COUBERTIN, the right “mean” arose from an unending struggle between the upholders of principles and their detractors (1987, 133-6). Values as such were therefore unattainable extremes for most philosophers, and the same applied to the Olympic ideals. But those ideals were to be set up by a conscious effort as something to be striven for. It was from this basic concept that COUBERTIN then developed his “sporting ontology” (NISSIOTIS 1987, 138). Instead of the word “sport”, however, COUBERTIN often uses the term “athletics”. Sport as he sees it is not something innate in man: rather the athlete pursues the Greek athlos, meaning the prize awarded after the contest. The athlete, then, needed instinct, character and movement. These formed the essentials of the perfect man, the “homme sportif” (cf NISSIOTIS 1987, 139). In this version of anthropology, muscular strength is linked to strength of will – in other words, the athlete must consciously make a sacrifice and not merely indulge in the unthinking exercise of strength. It is man’s striving to go higher and farther that is what makes him man in the first place. According to COUBERTIN, then, man is not what he is but what he can become. If man could be defined, that would be the end of him, so that he must always look ahead to see what comes next (cf NISSIOTIS 1987, 139). This definition is basically a contradiction in terms, since it denies the possibility of defining man; so it is not so much an attempt at a definition as a new style of “philosophy”, an “explosive philosophy of life” (NISSIOTIS 1987,140).

4 Coubertin’s Olympism between education and ideology

From Olympism to Olympic education

COUBERTIN says, “Athletics and the Olympic Games are the manifestation of the cult of the human being, mind and body, emotion and conscience. Will and conscience, because these are the two despots that fight for domination, the conflict between them often tearing us cruelly apart, because we must achieve an equilibrium” (1986b, Vol. 2, 418). 15 It was for this reason that COUBERTIN was unwilling to provide an unambiguous definition of Olympism, but calls upon us to reflect on the meaning and value of the human body. Olympism is the entire collection of values which, over and above physical strength, are developed when we participate in sport (cf. MALTER 1996). 16 This principle contains the basics of a modern theory of sport education on an anthropological basis (cf. GRUPE 1968; 1984a; 1985; MEINBERG 1987; 1991b). It is from COUBERTIN that we have the following paraphrase of the word “Olympism”: “Olympism combines, as in a halo, all those principles which contribute to the improvement of mankind” (1917, 20). COUBERTIN’s “Olympism” is therefore aimed at all people, irrespective of age, occupation, race, nationality or creed. Its general characteristic is that it brings together all men of good will, provided that they take their commitment to humanity seriously. It is, in Hans LENK’s phrase, “multi-tolerant”, allowing no ideological conflicts to arise (1972d, 17). “Olympic education” endeavours to provide a universal education or development of the whole human individual, in contrast to the increasingly specialized education encountered in many specialized disciplines. Consequently, it can only be based on the fundamental values of the human personality. COUBERTIN understood the Olympic Games as being the four-yearly “celebration of the universal human spring” (1986b, Vol. 2, 288). It followed that both participants and spectators had to be prepared for the festival. His concept of the process of training the Olympic athlete was based on the following pyramid principle: “In order for 100 people to develop their bodies it is necessary for 50 to practice a sport, and in order for 50 to practice a sport it is necessary for 20 to specialize; but in order for 20 to specialize it is necessary for 5 to be capable of outstanding achievement” (1986b, Vol. 1, 436). Thus, the “sports education” propagated by COUBERTIN encompassed all young people and the population at large insofar as its members included sport in their search for the experience personelle. He saw no contradiction here with his Olympic idea and Movement, since he had from the outset combined his educational and organization aims. Back in 1897, at the second Olympic Congress in Le Havre, those attending had been surprised to find themselves dealing not with details of future Olympic Games but with the propagation of sport and physical education in schools. Even in the aftermath of the unsuccessful 1900 and 1904 Olympic Games, COUBERTIN used the 3rd Olympic Congress of 1905 in Brussels to discuss models for the practice of sport and physical education in schools and other areas of life. After the breakthrough eventually achieved by the Olympic Games at Stockholm in 1912, COUBERTIN ventured to take on the universities, with a 1913 Congress in Lausanne on “Psychology and physiology in sport”. Although this was asking too much of his IOC colleagues, concerned only with international sporting relations and the four-yearly Olympic Games, this was yet another demonstration of his more ambitious educational mission and his independence (cf. N. MOLLER 1983). “We must reach the masses” (COUBERTIN 1986b, Vol.2, 389) was the motto with which he reacted to the impression made by social revolution. Consistently, he said in 1918, “It cannot be enough that this pedagogie Olympique – of which I recently said that it is based simultaneously on the cult of physical effort and the cult of harmony – in other words, on the taste for excess combined with moderation – should have the opportunity to be celebrated in the eyes of the whole world every four years. It also needs its permanent production facilities” (1966, 66). This quotation contains COUBERTIN’s first reference to “Olympic education”; clearly, he was at this time’convinced of the need for, and the conceptual strength of, his complex educational ideal. Away from his home country, he used the Olympic Movement for an international Olympic education network. When he wrote in November 1918 that “Olympism is not a system but an attitude of mind”, he called at the same time for the consistent pursuit of an “Olympic education” (1966, 65) in contrast to the traditional educational models which, in his eyes, were alien to sport. In 1921, when COUBERTIN tried to extend an urgently needed technical Olympic Congress in Lausanne to include a parallel event on sports education for the workforce, he failed to gain the support of a majority on the IOC. COUBERTIN pursued many schemes outside the IOC designed to create examples of such “production facilities” (cf N. MOLLER 1975b). Before the First World War had ended, he had founded an Olympic Institute in Lausanne, offering practical education in sport and more general subjects to interned Belgian and French prisoners of war. He repeatedly called for the building of urban sports centres on the model of the “gymnasia of antiquity”, and stressed the democratic role of sports clubs in which, he said, inequality between men did not exist (COUBERTIN 1986b, Vol. 3, 592 et seq. ). His programme of Olympic education comprised including sport as a matter of course in the daily routine, to give the individual the opportunity “to adapt the good and bad qualities in his nature to the exercise of sport” (1966, 97) and to orient his life in accordance with this experience. The public at large, as he proclaimed in his 1925 speech taking his leave of the Presidency of the IOC, should not be expected to indulge in the noisy worship of sporting idols without participating in sport themselves (1966, 111). He devoted the remainder of his life exclusively to new educational schemes. In November 1925, he founded the Union Pedagogique Universelle in Lausanne, which would hold conferences, seminars and other events connected with the educational mandate of the modern city. He also drafted a Charter of Educational Reform (1986b, Vol. 1, 636 et seq.), which in 1930 was passed through the League of Nations in Geneva to all Ministries of Education – without, of course, receiving any significant response (cf. N. MOLLER 1975a, 75-9). As a specific counter to the decline of sport as a significant factor in education, COUBERTIN in 1926 launched – again from Lausanne – the Bureau International de Pedagogie sportive (cf. N. MOLLER 1975a, 79 et seq.), which published an annual bulletin and a number of books, including COUBERTIN’s Olympic Memories and a new edition of his Pedagogie sportive. All of this passed almost unnoticed by the public, although COUBERTIN wrote more than I 100 articles and 30 books (cf. MOLLER and SCHANZ 1991). Even within the IOC, COUBERTIN was able to recruit only a handful of enthusiasts, and often criticized the leaders of the sports world as being technical consultants rather than defenders of the Olympic spirit. The educational aspect of the Olympic ideal only became public knowledge during the protracted debate about amateurism. For COUBERTIN, this very question was of no more than secondary importance: looking back, one might believe that the Olympic Movement spent all those years using this problem as a demonstration of its high ethical standards, in the same way as the doping problems of the present day. COUBERTIN thought differently: he was interested in the inner, moral, responsible attitude of the athlete to which the “Olympic education” was to contribute. As a repository of his educational efforts, COUBERTIN during his lifetime expressed the desire for a Centre d’etudes olympiques, which in fact came into being in Berlin between 1938 and 1944 under the control of Carl DIEM, using funds provided by the Reich (N. MOLLER 1975a, 108-1 1).

Reception of COUBERTIN’s educational concept

The International Olympic Academy (IOA), which has steadily developed at ancient Olympia since1961 as the main centre of Olympic education, professes a comprehensive commitment to COUBERTIN’s mandate (N. MOLLER 1995b). It is surprising to see how this educational programme has survived over so many years despite widespread incomprehension of its fundamental ideas. It is surprising, too, to see the various ways and forms in which this commitment finds expression today in so many countries and continents, in line with the Olympic tradition and the current status of sports education. The seventy National Olympic Academies (NOAs) which have sprung up since 1966 have in various ways given a new emphasis to the Olympic concept in schools and universities and among the public (cf. N. MOLLER 1994; 1997b), although their substance has often been masked by structural issues.

  • The IOC Charter, in force since September 11, 2000, refers on several occasions to the content and form of Olympic education:
  • Even in the Fundamental Principles which introduce the Charter (Article 2) reference is made to the blending of sport with culture and education as the foundation of Olympism.
  • The Olympic Movement aims to contribute to building a peaceful and better world, especially through sports education (Article 6).
  • The IOC is committed to the sporting ethic and particularly fair play (Rules 2,6.-7), and, to that end, supports the IOA and other institutions dedicated to “Olympic education” (Rules 2, 14-15).
  • The IOC Charter obliges the National Olympic Committees to promote Olympism in all areas ofeducation and, for example, to adopt independent initiatives for “Olympic education” through national Olympic Academies (Rule 31, 2. 1).

For many years, the Cold War overshadowed the Olympic Games and – like the First and Second World Wars before it – posed endless new challenges to the Olympic ideal of peace. The manipulation of the Olympic Games for political ends, especially in the case of the boycotts at Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984, cast doubt on the Olympic ideals and, at the same time, highlighted the need for Olympic education. Prompted by the successful efforts of the IOA, the National Olympic Committees recognized the need to begin “Olympic education” at the grass roots, partly to testify to the credibility of the Olympic Movement in the face of increasing commercialization. The efforts of the IOA, organizing some one hundred thousand people to participate in about eight hundred seminars and conferences between 1961 and 1998 on a very wide range of subjects relating to Olympism, have provided important stimuli for efforts in the field of Olympic education in many countries since the 1970s. The National Olympic Academy of the German NOC was founded in 1966 under the name Kuratorium Olympische Akademie. In addition to specialist conferences, the Kuratorium has organized school and university competitions on Olympic subjects since 1984, and has since 1988 developed multi-disciplinary Olympic education programmes through its specialist educational committees. Since 1986, education in fair play has been prescribed as an essential aspect of an Olympic education, the target group including not only schools but also, especially, sports clubs and associations, and the general public as well. Well-attended teacher training seminars run by the Kuratorium Olympische Academie with the support of the education ministers and schools senators of the German Lander to broadcast the idea of Olympic education with particular emphasis on fair play show not only that teachers are keenly interested in projects relating to the Olympic Movement but that the world of the Olympic Games is one that repays the long-term involvement of both teachers and pupils. The Olympic Movement is an educational mission which is becoming increasingly topical as a result of media coverage. The fact that its values may seem unattainable does not mean that the idea is obsolete or misguided. Olympism contains visions which offer an ever-changing field of opportunity to athletes and everyone else concerned.

5 Olympism as part of the school curriculum

Among COUBERTIN’s copious body of writings is an essay entitled “L’Olympisme A l’ecole. Il faut l’encourager!” (1934). In it, COUBERTIN expresses his preoccupations at the end of his life. It is of little use to schools today to offer COUBERTIN’s interpretation of Olympism as an educational subject without practical examples. In particular, his much-quoted philosophical retrospective of 1935 entitled “The philosophical principles of modern Olympism” can only be understood by picturing this value structure of Olympic education as the end product of a process that continued over many years. If we are to answer the question of what Olympism can mean in educational terms and what an “Olympic education” can contain, we must seek a starting point, once again, in COUBERTIN, since nothing has been done since his time to revise its content. The IOC Charter adopted COUBERTIN’s principles to that effect. This makes sense, since otherwise there was a danger of exaggerated adaptation of those principles to the spirit of the age. In the case of the Olympic Movement, too, there is the danger that external forms will completely overwhelm issues of content. On the other hand, in the attempt to implement the Olympic ideal in school curricula, there is no circumventing topical issues and problems of the Olympic Games, since they are familiar to the pupils. So the Olympic ideal as COUBERTIN’s educational vision must be retained, but it must also be continuously reviewed and revised.

The topicality of “Olympic education ” in schools on the beginning of the 21″ century

Under this heading we can group the following six features of an “Olympic education”, all of which can be traced back to COUBERTIN’s philosophical legacy:

(1) The concept of harmonious development of the whole human being; (2) The idea of striving for human perfection through high performance, in which scientific and artistic achievement must take equal rank with sporting performance; (3) Sporting activity voluntarily linked to ethical principles such as fair play and equality of opportunity, and the determination to fulfil those obligations; also included is the ideal of amateurism, which has been almost totally abandoned in international sport today; (4) The concept of peace and goodwill between nations, reflected by respect and tolerance in relations between individuals; (5) The promotion of moves towards emancipation in and through sport.

These educational conclusions, derived from COUBERTIN’s writings, appear at first sight somewhat theoretical and problematical for a practical programme in schools. They will be discussed in more detail below (cf N. MOLLER 1996a; GRUPE 1997a, 1997b).

The concept of harmonious development of the whole human being

The education of the young focuses not only on the mind and intellect but also on the body. “Olympic education”, then, means both physical and mental education. It endeavours to make children and young people aware that the lifelong pursuit of sport is an enrichment and necessary complement to other endeavours, in order to develop and sustain a fulfilling sense of identity. This is the starting point for the ideas and activities making up “Sport for All”. What COUBERTIN wanted for Europe at the end of the 19th century – physical education as a mandatory part of school education for boys and girls – has not yet become a reality in 50 of the world’s countries, according to UNESCO statistics. In the remainder, the issue is the importance of school sport by comparison with the “academic disciplines” and ways of improving its quality and quantity. School sports days, for example, are an important part of the experience of school pupils, particularly as regards fostering the sense of community. Just as the Olympic Games provide a model on the global scale, so too school sports days, if they are properly planned and run, become educationally important landmarks in school life. This is particularly true of comparative competitions within the framework of the Olympic development programme. This offers a particularly good opportunity to act on COUBERTIN’s call for the involvement of art and music as an aesthetic setting for sporting competition, with a view to perfecting the ideal of harmony.

The idea of human perfection

Every human being, and every school pupil, wants to do his best, and sport – especially the Olympic Games – provides a documentary record of supreme human achievement. A comparable academic area is the awarding of the Nobel Prizes, whereas the arts are unsuitable for such objective yardsticks. The achievement of new personal bests and the desire to compete with fellow pupils reflects a natural endeavour on the part of the individual, encouraging others to emulate him. Top-level Olympic achievement and optimum sporting achievement at all other levels encourage young people, too, to excel themselves, not to be content with the average or a past performance, and to set an example. This principle is often contested today, and it can only be credibly maintained if this form of human perfection is achieved by honest, independent means. Manipulation and interference with the natural development of the young (genetic engineering, growth inhibition, etc.) exploit them instead of contributing to their “self-perfection” in the human sense. COUBERTIN constantly urged, “Ne troubler pas l’equilibre des saisons! “, because even in the early years of this century he regarded premature specialization as a serious danger to the educationally appropriate development of children in accordance with their age. “Olympic education” is intended for all, including “poor students” and the handicapped. Article 2 of the IOC Charter says that Olympism aims to further a lifestyle in which the pleasure of physical achievement plays an important part. So the experiencing of achievement, in the Olympic sense, contributes to the development of the personality of any athlete, not just those at the top level.

The voluntary commitment to ethical principles in sporting activity

None of the Olympic values is better understood in sport than the concept of fair play, for which COUBERTIN always used the French term esprit chevaleresque. Even though Olympism is based on the culture of the Christian West, and hence that of Europe, comparable ethical values also form the foundation of human life and coexistence in other religions and social systems, too. In an “Olympic education”, the utmost importance must be attached to the pursuit of sport on the basis of fair competition. Students must learn, not only in their own sporting activities but also in the critical reflection of other disciplines:

  • that rules in sports and games (and in life, too) must not be broken;
  • to practice fair play, so as to train their characters for all areas of life;
  • and to use fair play in sport to improve the personal worlds in which they live, so that the pressures of the school routine (and later the working routine) play no part.

But it is not appropriate to appoint supervisors to monitor all this, within a concept oriented towards education; the need is for a voluntary commitment and a personal endorsement of fair play. For most participants in the Olympics, this ideal no longer exists, nor does the Olympic Charter now make provision for it. In many countries, especially the less industrially developed ones, top-level sport has in many cases remained the preserve of amateurs. “Olympic education” can teach the lesson that sport, for the majority of those who pursue it, has not lost its meaning as the striving after perfection in the traditional sense of amateur sport. The influence of business and the media has gone too far if it reaches a point where sportsmen become a “property” and lose their personal freedom. This aspect of the old amateur ideal is still relevant and educationally important.

Peace and harmony between nations

Apart from fair play, the Olympic value to which most attention is paid today is the idea of peace. Olympic internationalism can be taught in many ways as part of an “Olympic curriculum”; it encompasses the following aspects:

  • it seeks to promote understanding of the specific cultural features of other nations and continents;
  • it seeks to help familiarize people with the forms of sport played by others;
  • it seeks to improve familiarity with the cultures of those countries which organize the Olympic Games;
  • and it endeavours to assist and promote internationally sporting contacts and personal contacts between individuals.

Almost all schools in Germany have highly multiracial student bodies. This is a microcosm of an extensive field of action, because sport speaks all languages. Olympism, as a part of world culture, is unaffected by financial resources, colour or creed. The Olympic Games are the greatest of all peaceful global gatherings, taking place every four years. COUBERTIN’s idea of peace education as a core area of Olympism is more real today than ever.

Promotion of trends to emancipation in and through sport

To be credible, the Olympic Movement today is committed to a substantially emancipatory approach. Taking as its starting point COUBERTIN’s guiding principle of “all games, all nations”, it stands for equal rights not only among nations but also among sports, not just equal rights for all races but equal rights for both sexes. While the protection of the environment is becoming an increasingly important commitment for all applicants to host the Olympic Games, the Olympic programme – and, as a result, equality between forms of sport – are increasingly being called into question by the issue of telegenicity. Transposed to the school environment, there are some important educational lessons here: tolerance for the opposite sex, acceptance of the most varied forms of physical education and competitive sport, and the development of the pupils’ sense of responsibility within and through sport.

Forms of practical implementation

The ability to bring the many different aspects of “Olympic education” into the school environment calls for consideration of all school disciplines. Apart from sports education, which is determined not only by club sport but also by the early practical experience of children and the young, the main focus in elementary schools is on general knowledge, art, music, German and (where provided) religious education. At secondary school level, the curriculum is broadened to include social sciences, history, biology and foreign languages. Topics relevant to the Olympic Movement can be dealt with in different ways in the various disciplines, though a better way is to present them as a multidisciplinary educational project (or part of one). An Olympic exhibition is another way of stimulating interest within the school community, as was demonstrated by the poster series “100 Years of the Olympic Games” produced by the German NOC in 1996. The interest taken by schoolchildren will be particularly strong in the weeks preceding the Summer and Winter Olympics, and during the period of the actual Olympic Games. The six-to-twelve-year-old age group can be particularly highly motivated by Olympic themes. The involvement of pupils in a reasoned development of opinions on problems confronting the Olympic Movement is desirable as pupils get older, in view of extensive television consumption. This may be a way of reaching a consensus on the Olympic values which pupils should endorse.

The Olympic Games as an event and educational model

GESSMANN, among others, emphasizes that “Olympic education” must be capable of the most positive association possible with the Olympic Games as an event. This is not self-evident, since the public – in view of the violations of the Olympic philosophy and the tangle of political, commercial and drug-related intrigue surrounding top-level sport -perceives the Olympic Games as an event that is rarely exemplary and is not to be taken seriously educationally. The negative examples cannot basically erase the validity of Olympic values as an educational idea. Ideals are never completely achieved – there are always compromises. So the battle for meaning has to be constantly re-thought. What educational models can be created by the Olympic Games as an event? People of all nations come together, some as competitors and others as spectators, in the utmost spirit of friendship. Through the media, the Olympic family at the venue of the Games becomes the symbol of the Olympic concept of universalism. The great achievements of the participants symbolize the striving and achievement of all humanity. If this symbol is also associated with fair play and mutual respect, the athletes set an example of successful coexistence between people in critical situations. The ceremonial character of the Olympic Games gives their achievements particular significance. It is in this context that the Olympic Games, as an event, must be critically considered and put to educational use (cf. GESSMANN 1992). This also avoids the risk of reducing “Olympic education” to nothing more than improved sports education (SCHANTZ 1996), although some aspects of the values described above are traditionally inherent in the teaching of sport and can be effective in sports education even without any Olympic reference. An “Olympic curriculum” must highlight what is specifically Olympic and, over and above historical considerations, involve COUBERTIN’s ideals in a contemporary form. These educational fundamentals are what has characterized the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games to date, raising them high above the status of world championships (cf. N. MOLLER 1991).

6 The future of an “Olympic education”

Television links the general public to Olympia every two years. Exerting an Olympic education influence on the public is something that can only succeed through the media. The media, however, are under pressure to achieve high advertising figures, and their intentions are hardly educational. This makes the role of top-class athletes as models even more important if “Olympic education” is to succeed. This also applies to coaches, doctors and officials. But only if the Olympic athletes are involved can the standards be given a binding quality. Both in their actual sporting activities and in their public pronouncements on fair play, top-class athletes show a sense of commitment to a “sporting ethic” and hence to the basic values of Olympism. This opens up a broad field for potential activities, such as Olympic discussion sessions and spare-time lectures during the months of training. The future is not without hope. The much-prophesied abandonment of Olympism and hence of the “Olympic education” has not come about, nor are there any signs that it will do so. We must speak more about the “Olympic future”, and to do that we have a vital need for “Olympic education”, especially after Sydney 2000 with wonderfull examples of the Australians (1997b, 62). Anyone who thinks in terms of perfectionism and makes the total achievement of his aims a basic condition, has failed to understand COUBERTIN and his Olympism.

2016-10-12T14:42:50-05:00January 6th, 2004|Sports Facilities, Sports Management|Comments Off on Olympic Education