Minority Hiring Practices in Professional Sports


Professional sports provide a source of entertainment for millions of people. Players and games are seen as diversions to everyday life. Yet to athletes, and to those who work behind the scenes in the front-offices, professional sport is a job. Running and managing sports teams and leagues is big business. As such, hiring practices of these institutions should be of societal concern. Franchises impact the lives of not only those whom they employ, but entire cities as well. From the construction and operation of stadiums to the local merchants who take care of the fans, sports teams greatly affect a city’s economy. A glance at the rosters can quickly show what the players’ demographics are, but a closer look is needed to see the racial and gender make-up of these various teams and leagues.

Statement of the Problem

The purpose of this paper is to review the demographic hiring history of various professional sports teams and leagues. The demographic make-up of players, front-office and league personnel will be compared to the overall labor market to determine how professional sports fare in creating jobs for minority groups.

Independent Variable

The percentage of minority hiring across gender and racial lines will serve as the independent variable in this study.

Dependent Variables

The various professional sports organizations (NFL, NBA, MLB) and the population rates for each selected minority group will serve as the dependent variables in this study.


Sports organizations will likely fare well in terms of minority hiring where players are concerned. African-Americans comprise a majority on most teams’ rosters, and Hispanics fare well in Major League Baseball. More opportunities are emerging for women. Front-office positions will most likely be under-represented in minority hiring, particularly among females.


This study assumes no one is excluded from pursuing jobs in the professional sports field due to gender or race.


This study is delimited to professional sports teams, their players and league personnel.

Significance of the Study

The overall labor force is becoming more diverse. Professional athletes have traditionally been male and, for the most part, Caucasian or African-American. The emergence of new professional sports organizations for women have increased opportunities for female athletes. But who is working off-field for these organizations? How have sports teams and leagues staffed their organizations? Are they in line with the national labor hiring practices? Or, are they in stark contrast with the real world? A minority unfriendly hiring practice could have a negative impact on the popularity and support for each league.

Review of Literature

A review of the literature reveals that the data can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. At first glance professional sports seem to epitomize a system of racial harmony and equality. One needs only to look at the rosters of various teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), or Major League Baseball (MLB) to find a healthy mix of minority participation. A closer inspection reveals some disturbing observations. True, while minority participation is high, it seems relegated to one particular minority group, the African-American male. The opportunities for female athletes to participate have increased due to the formation of various sports leagues, most notably the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), but their numbers still far trail those of their male counterparts. Hispanic and Asian-American participation seems limited to MLB, where their numbers are not reflective of their presence in the overall population. A look at the team and league offices reveals that the true position of power in these sports is predominately dominated by the white male.

The Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society has been issuing racial report cards for professional team sports. The report has evolved from grading minority participation and employment in a few select leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB), to grading minority and gender participation in collegiate and other professional sports. The report also emphasizes the various levels of authority from coaching to ownership. An early report in 1992 found that the top management hiring practices of the NBA earned a B-, the NFL a C, and MLB an F (Clay, 1994). In a more comprehensive 1997 report, the overall grades for the three sports leagues were NBA an A, NFL a B, and MLB a C. In terms of playing opportunities for minorities the NFL and NBA each earned A+ grades, while MLB received an A. Coaching opportunities found the NBA leading the way again with an A, the NFL received a C+, and MLB a B. No league fared exceptionally well in terms of top management positions held by minorities. These positions include owners and executive officers. The NBA received a C, the NFL a C, and MLB an F (Hubbard, 1998). The 1998 report card included gender grades as well as looking at the National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Soccer (MLS), and the WNBA. Grades for colleges were included as well. The NBA once again scored the highest receiving an A- for minority hiring, and a B for gender hiring. The NFL graded a B+ for minority and a D+ for gender. MLB earned a B for minority hiring practices, but did not receive a gender grade due to a lack of available information. In any event, in terms of race, each league either maintained (MLB) or improved their scores. Other key findings were that soccer had the best record for minority group diversity; the NHL held the best opportunities for women; and that the WNBA had a good record for both minority group and gender diversity (“NBA Scores Highest”, 1999). Sport in Society Director Richard Lapchick stated after his tenth study that “While the hiring practices in sport have gotten better for people of color and women, there is clearly significant room for progress in all sports. Nonetheless, pro sports is measurably ahead of society in these matters.” (“NBA Scores Highest”, 1999).

Compiling statistics on such matters is not unique to Northeastern University. The Women’s Sports Foundation Gender Equity Report Card of 1997 found female involvement to be rare at higher levels of sports management, and opportunities were generally confined to director level positions in two jobs in particular. The Director of Promotions is 58.8% female, and the Director of Marketing is 29.9% female (Delpy, 1998). The Foundation also studied female spectatorship in the various leagues. Statistics showed that despite high levels of interest, the opportunities to work for these sports clubs were not there.

League Females Team/League Executives Female TV Audience
MLB 11/ 190 (5.8%)44%
NBA 19 /203 (9.4%)40%
NFL 10/171 (5.8%)40%
NHL 13/187 (6.9%)41%
–refers to women in CEO, CFO, COO, President or Vice President positions (Delpy, 1998).

The numbers look a little better for women when considering all senior front office positions, especially when compared to their African-American counterparts. Women held 16% of such jobs as compared to 10% for African-Americans in the NFL, and 31% to 11% in the NBA (Holder,1999).

The perceptions of racial discrimination arise when one considers the vast discrepancy between the number of minorities who participate as players to those who help organize and run organizations at team or league levels. “The number of minorities hired . . . doesn’t come anywhere close to the number of Black athletes who play the games . . . On the field sports have as much equal opportunity as anything America has to offer. Off the field, sports are very segregated.” (Greenlee, 1998). As of 1996, African-Americans comprised 12.2% of the United States population, but were represented on 75% of the NBA rosters, 63% of the NFL’s, and 33% of MLB’s (Evans, 1997). Presently there are 4 African-American head coaches in the NFL (13% of such positions), 7 in the NBA (24%), and 3 African-American (11%) and 1 Hispanic (3%) in MLB. African-American assistant coaches account for 25% of NFL staffs, 34% of the NBA’s, and 14% of MLB’s (Holder, 1999). Furthermore, of the 221 officiating positions in professional sports, 25 were filled by African-Americans (Lyons, 1992). Until 1997, there were no female officials. In that year, Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner made history by becoming the first women to officiate an NBA game.

There are numerous theories and opinions as to the importance of these statistics. One such theory is the Key Functionaries Theory where “key functionaries are positions within a social system that are capable of influencing and performing crucial activities” (Evans, 1997). The key functionary roles in sport include positions such as sportscaster, executive, coach or a paid endorser. The scarcity of African-Americans in these roles in sport is seen as proof that discriminatory barriers have not been abolished, but replaced by barriers in institutional practices that involve key functionary positions. Discrimination has shifted from criteria based on ascription (race) to achievement (or holding proper necessities for the job) (Evans, 1997). This institutional bias has led to African-Americans being under-represented in other prominent sport categories such as fans, referees, writers, program producers, directors, senior executives, printers of programs and/or tickets, agents, attorneys and vendors. Others who echo these discriminatory practices are in place are sports luminaries such as John Thompson and Joe Morgan. Thompson, long time coach at Georgetown University, questions the lack of minorities in front office positions and sarcastically quips African-Americans are “competent as a player, but so incompetent that his knowledge leaves him once he graduates from a university” (“Is there a double standard”, 1998). Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame baseball player of the Cincinnati Reds, points out that not one minority was even interviewed for the last thirty three managerial positions in MLB (“Is there a double standard”, 1997). The situation on the playing fields may not be as rosy as some would believe either. Tony Banks and Rodney Peete comment on the low number of African-American quarterbacks in the NFL, and Peete says, “We don’t often get the opportunity to go and make mistakes or get three or four years to develop” (“Is there a double standard”, 1997). Sherman Lewis, long time NFL assistant coach and Offensive Coordinator of the Green Bay Packers, ponders his situation. Lewis has seen two of his understudies, Steve Mariucci and Jon Gruden, given head coaching jobs ahead of him. Of Gruden, Lewis comments, “If you think Jon Gruden is more qualified for a head coaching position than me, it’s like saying I am more qualified to be president than Bill Clinton” (Hubbard, 1998). “Black athletes have taken pro sports to a higher level. But when it comes to who coaches, who manages, and who gets administration positions, athletics is strictly a white mans’ game” (Greenlee, 1998). Others view the numbers differently, and see no real discriminatory practices at work. A study to examine the relationship between the racial composition of NBA, NFL, and MLB teams and the racial composition of the franchise cities found that there were no systematic correlations (Leonard II, 1997). Previous theories held that cities with lower African-American populations fielded teams with lower percentages of African-American players, i.e., “The whiter the city, the whiter the team” (Leonard II, 1997). Leonard II’s study showed no such correlation and thus no directed bias or intentional segregation against African-American players on the part of NBA owners. Another study found no systematical bias of fan voting for MLB All-Stars in relation to race or ethnicity. The historical study found that by 1996 African-American players appeared to have an edge in fan selections which is “striking in light of the fact that black attendance at ball games is not only quite small but seems to have declined over the period” (“Color-Blind”, 1999). Still others feel that if there is a bias it is against white players. “If imbalances betoken bias, and if underrepresentation of various ethnic groups is a big, big problem, what shall we do about the scandalous underrepresentation of whites in most big-league sports?” (Seligman, 1987). Seligman’s true contention is that African-American athletes are simply better at their jobs, and that charges of bias and discrimination, and movements to enact affirmative action policies are brought up too readily.


Professional sports is not only entertainment but big business as well. As a business, the teams and leagues must concern themselves with dominant public issues. One such issue discussed in this paper are minority hiring practices. Comments by sports executives such as those made by Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott and former Los Angeles Dodger executive Al Campanis have led many to believe that racist and sexist beliefs run rampant among those who manage and run professional sports. A look at the numbers shows that this may or may not be the case.

At first glance, the rosters of pro sports teams seem to symbolize an ethnic diversity that should be admired and emulated. African-Americans could certainly think so, as this group comprises 75% of NBA rosters, 63% of the NFL’s, and 33% of MLB. But what of Hispanics and Asian-Americans whose only impact is in MLB, and even there at low levels of participation. These minority groups are under-represented at the collegiate level as well. In fact, only 1,400 Hispanics competed in major college sports in 1993-94 (Lapchick, 1995). Women, as a minority group, are faring much better, although their numbers still fall well behind those of their male counterparts. Thanks to Title IX, interest and participation has increased in women’s athletics. These opportunities have led to the formation of the WNBA, with other leagues to follow. Female athletes will continue to strive for equal compensation and endorsement opportunities in relation to their male peers, but their opportunity of expansion into new sports leagues far excels those of males.

The question of discrimination arises when one looks at the number of minorities who hold coaching and front office positions. Many observers feel the numbers should be more reflective of the people who actually play in the games. Presently, African-Americans constitute 13% of all head coaches in the NFL, 24% in the NBA, and 11% in MLB. These numbers are more in line with the overall African-American population in the U.S. of 12.2%, and are much more reflective of a truly diverse organization. The lack of other minority groups, where only one Hispanic holds a managerial position in MLB, should be more of a concern to the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Commission for Fairness in Sport. Senior front office positions are another story. One could assume that the knowledge of sports issues among minority groups is increasing due to participation and would be reflected in an increase in front office hiring. African-Americans hold 10% of the front office positions in the NFL and 11% in the NBA. Women hold 16% and 31% respectively. However, these positions are usually pigeonholed in particular jobs such as Director of Promotions, or Director of Marketing. Diversity demands an increase in these numbers and job titles.

Minority of hiring practices of professional sports teams and leagues should reflect society as a whole and not be based on the athletes who play the game. Yet, participation is important because it reduces the barriers in hiring relating to on-the-field experience and knowledge of competition. Before focusing on the private sector of professional sports, much progress can and should be made in the public sector, namely college athletics. At these mostly publically funded institutions of learning, experience can be gained by minorities in all areas from playing to management. Increased minority opportunities at the collegiate level will enable professional sports teams to identify successful candidates to fill similar positions in their organizations. According to the Northeastern University Report Card, professional sports have outperformed colleges in terms of minority and gender hiring. Professional sports teams and leagues should be credited with the work they have done, and continue to do through their internship programs for minorities. Minority hiring practices will be easier to monitor as professional sports leagues continue to expand. Expansion allows for teams to build their managerial staffs from the ground up rather than trying to fill one position at a time. More important, expansion presents the opportunity for minority ownership of teams.
A hiring practice that mirrors a society’s population cannot be labeled biased or discriminatory. Furthermore, if said hiring practice does not meet societal levels it does not necessarily mean that the organization is biased or discriminatory. Candidates for jobs not only have to be willing to participate but must meet all the qualifications for that position. Applicants must have the interest, ability, knowledge, experience and aptitude to carry out the job duties. In terms of professional rosters, one can easily argue that teams are simply employing the best available talent. The fact that so few Hispanics and Asian-Americans are competing in football, basketball and some respects baseball at the collegiate level makes the argument of having these groups more fairly represented at the professional level a moot point. As far as head coaching positions are concerned, one must remember that these are very exclusive and competitive jobs. Only thirty-one positions are available in the NFL. The four African-Americans who currently hold head coaching positions (13%) clearly mirror the overall U.S. population of this minority group. Are there more qualified African-American candidates to assume these roles? Most certainly. Should the number of African-American head coaches be raised simply to reflect the over-representation of African-American athletes participating in the games? Absolutely not!

Owners must be given credit for running their organizations. If owners are putting the best available talent on the field, and are color-blind enough to bolster their rosters with African-Americans, then it is just as conceivable that they are staffing their front offices with the best talent that they know. Ownership in sports league franchises is also an ultra-exclusive fraternity. Franchises are very expensive assets, and teams, for the most part, are run to win championships and generate income. To inflict a quota system on these privately held “corporations” is not only unfair, but does not allow these individuals to exercise all their business acumen that enabled them to become successful enough to buy a team in the first place. As more people compete and take part in athletics, particularly females, the greater the talent pool for jobs in sport will grow. In a perfect world we would all get the jobs we wished for. The fact is, if a professional sports team/league is hiring minority groups in a manner which mirrors their societal population, and they are hiring qualified personnel, then charging them with discriminatory behavior is difficult to justify.


Chappell, Kevin. (January, 1996). Scoring on the Expansion Teams: blacks named to key positions with newly formed professional sports clubs. Ebony, 51(3), 52-55.

Clay, Bobby. (February, 1994). How Do We Score in the Front Office? While blacks have landed some high-profile posts, few are getting the jobs that really count. Black Enterprise, 24(7), 144-149.

Color-Blind at the Ballpark. (July 5, 1999). Business Week, p.18.

Deacon, James, & Hawaleshka, Danylo. (April 7, 1997). Leagues of Their Own; women are finally breaking the old boy stranglehold on sports. Maclean’s, 110(14), 62-66.

Delpy, Lisa A. (September, 1998). Career Opportunities in Sport: women on the mark. JOPERD – The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 69(7), 17-22.

Evans Jr., Arthur S. (September, 1997). Blacks As Key Functionaries: a study of racial stratification on professional sport. Journal of Black Studies, 29(1), 43-59.

Greenlee, Craig T. (April 16, 1998). In Sports, Those Making the Off-the Field Decisions Remain Overwhelmingly White. Black Issues in Higher Education, 15(4), 23-24.

Holder, Sherre. (February, 1999). First & Goal! Black Enterprise, 29(7), 121.

Hubbard, Lee. (May 28, 1998). In Sports, Whites Abandon Limelight for Behind the Scenes Power. Los Angeles Sentinel, p. B1.

Is There a Double Standard for Blacks in Sport? (May 4, 1998). Jet, pp. 52-56.

Lapchick, Richard. (July 5, 1995). HO Perspectives: college sports and race. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, 5(22), 16.

Leonard II, Wilbert M. (December, 1997). Racial Composition of NBA, NFL, and MLB Teams and Racial Composition of Franchise Cities. Journal of Sport Behavior, 20(4), 424-434.

Lyons, Douglas C. (February, 1992). Blowing the Whistle. Ebony, 47(4), 96-99.

NBA Scores the Highest in Hiring Minority Groups. (August 16, 1999). Jet, p. 46.

Seligman, Daniel. (April 27, 1987). Bias on Ice, and Quite a Few Other Places. Fortune, p. 286.

2013-11-26T21:46:34+00:00February 14th, 2008|Contemporary Sports Issues, Sports Facilities, Sports Management|Comments Off on Minority Hiring Practices in Professional Sports

Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympia”: Brilliant Cinematography or Nazi Propaganda?

“Olympia,” arguably one of the greatest sports films ever produced, may have also been an effective propaganda tool that promoted National Socialism as a model form of government. A sports documentary capturing the 1936 Summer Olympics “Olympia” was directed and produced by the renowned German motion picture producer Leni Riefenstahl.

On the surface, the film appears to be a very well made sports film, depicting outstanding athletic accomplishments by many individuals and teams from throughout the world. However, as Germany’s intentions became clearer in the period before World War II, critics became more and more suspicious that the actual motive for producing “Olympia” was political promotion: Nazi propaganda. Kracauer (1947) stated, “To be sure, all Nazi films were more or less propaganda films—even the mere entertainment pictures which seem to be remote from politics” (p. 275). To date, no one has been able to uncover substantive evidence proving that the sole intention of producing “Olympia” was to create propaganda. There are, however, many hints that at least part of the German government’s purpose in supporting “Olympia” was to promote the positive (as perceived by the Nazis) principles of National Socialism to the world.

There are two parts to the film. The first part begins with a history of the Olympic games, depicting the traditions of the ancient games in the city of Olympia and continuing with portrayal of many of the field events at the 1936 Berlin games. The second part features the track and field events of the Berlin Games. “Olympia” was considered a documentary, but in fact it incorporated two components generally unknown in documentaries typifying that time: editing and sound. Riefenstahl’s skillful editing allowed the most exciting moments to be featured and produced smooth transition between the sports events. In a most sophisticated manner, Riefenstahl also incorporated sound within the film, in the form of background music and narration. She worked tirelessly to synchronize music by distinguished film composer Herbert Windt with the moving images in the film (Riefenstahl, 1993). In those days, to attach any sort of sound to a moving picture was always difficult and often impossible, but Riefenstahl accomplished it with a flawless precision that impressed audiences and critics in Germany and abroad. All of this, in combination with innovative filming techniques, won for the film very high acclaim from some of the most respected persons in the industry (Berg-Pan, 1980; Graham, 1986; Infield, 1976; Salkeld, 1996). And even today, viewing “Olympia” creates the impression that one is a living part of the 1936 games; Riefenstahl’s work is a far cry from the boorish nature of pre-“Olympia” documentaries.

“Olympia” as Nazi Propaganda

As a result of the political climate developing before World War II, “Olympia” became increasingly scrutinized. Produced by the same Germany about to wreak frightful havoc on the world, “Olympia,” it seemed, could be assumed to contain some expression of support for National Socialism. Was Riefenstahl so absorbed in her documentary work that the surrounding Nazi politics escaped her? Or was she much more politically astute than she claimed to be?

Certain facts make it difficult to believe Riefenstahl could have been naive about the way of life around her: (a) her professional instincts and insights were extraordinary; (b) her political skills were such that she was able to arrange personal meetings with Hitler; and (c) in order to attain her film production goals, she carefully worked the political structures of the German film industry and the Nazi Party (Graham, 1986; Riefenstahl, 1993). From a commonsense perspective, it is difficult to be convinced that the same Riefenstahl possessed of these impressive skills could remain unaware of the larger motive manifested by Hitler and the National Socialist Party in making the film. Furthermore, Riefenstahl had various ties to international figures, meeting personally with Benito Mussolini on Hitler’s behalf (Riefenstahl, 1993) and being invited to Moscow by Joseph Stalin following the release of “Olympia” (Hinton, 1978).

Still, it would be presumptuous to accuse Riefenstahl of familiarity with the agenda and inner workings of the Nazis: No empirical evidence supports the accusation. There is much room for debate about whether Riefenstahl’s intelligence and savvy (and effective application of them in her many professional endeavors) preclude her misunderstanding the situation unfolding in Nazi Germany at the time. In the absence of any real proof that Riefenstahl was even aware, truly, of the planned evils of the Nazi Party, it is very difficult to prove she had a propagandistic intent in producing “Olympia.”

However, the question of whether the Nazis put the film to use as propaganda is quite different. The German government certainly would not have released “Olympia” if it had not portrayed Germany in the way the Nazi party wished to be portrayed. Nevertheless, the kind of propaganda the documentary most clearly provided is what Graham (1986) called “soft” or “sociological” propaganda (p. 251). As propaganda, “Olympia” is less interested in blatantly indoctrinating viewers in the principles of National Socialism than in promoting a positive, even kind, image of Germany. The audience took in an exhilarating sports documentary featuring the successes of many countries’ athletes. (In some cases, the film actually downplays victories of the German nation.) Viewers throughout the world were pleased to see favorite athletes featured in a positive light, and positive feeling about the film might extend by association to Germany and thus to the National Socialist Party.

While official documentation ascribes “Olympia” to a company named Leni Riefenstahl Productions, the film’s finances were in fact controlled by Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda (Berg-Pan, 1980). Furthermore, a frank assessment of Riefenstahl’s possible complicity must not ignore her work for the National Socialist Party (prior to “Olympia”) making a film titled “Triumph of the Will.” In “Triumph of the Will,” the power of the National Socialist Party is clearly exhibited, and everything the German government believed good about Nazism is on display.

“Olympia” as Documentary

One of the strongest arguments for the notion that “Olympia” was a propaganda piece (if only in terms of sociological propaganda) is also, strangely, one of the strongest arguments for the notion that it was not a propaganda film at all. That point is the film’s perceived objectivity, its seemingly unbiased representation of the athletes, the nations, and the Games in general. Experts on filmmaking at the time, as well as other critics contemporary with Riefenstahl, found great merit in “Olympia.” The documentary was actually voted the grand prize winner at the 1938 International Film Festival in Venice, defeating Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (Hinton, 1991).

Riefenstahl would later visit Hollywood, during which trip Disney received her openly, congratulating her on what he believed to be a masterful production. By the time of her visit, anti-German sentiment in the United States had grown so large that “Olympia” was being boycotted, although many who were so vigorously denouncing the film had not viewed it. Disney witnessed the boycott and was aware of the popular dislike of Germany. If he had considered “Olympia” to in some way comprise political propaganda, it is highly unlikely he would have received Riefenstahl publicly and with genuine praise.

The objectivity of “Olympia” perceived by so many of Riefenstahl’s critics and audiences comes primarily from Riefenstahl’s refusal to compromise when it came to the film’s production. Her own standards trumped the wishes of others. She herself wielded control over all aspects of the film’s creation (Hinton, 1991), despite frequent pressure from Goebbels—during filming and editing and production generally—to make modifications aligning the content with Nazi ideals. When Goebbels demanded, for example, that she acknowledge Hitler’s resentment of the successful African-American athletes, Riefenstahl instead proceeded to feature gold medalists Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf prominently (Hinton, 1978; Infield, 1976). Her defiance lends credence to her later claim that she, at least, saw no propaganda purpose for her documentary. Riefenstahl’s uncompromising ways as a producer of “Olympia” furthermore led to Nazi officials’ criticism of the film as too artistic (Berg-Pan, 1980).


After the war had ended in Germany’s defeat, de-Nazification courts refused to label Riefenstahl a Nazi (Salkeld, 1996). That makes it more difficult to label her film Nazi propaganda. Some might argue that it simply is not fair to criticize Riefenstahl and Germany for succeeding at what our film companies today continue attempting: to produce a film that pleases the widest possible audience and wins high praise and supportive reviews from film industry professionals. Such a goal during such a time, however, is evidence leading the present authors to conclude that Riefenstahl’s “Olympia” did contribute to the Nazi movement, even if in the subtlest of ways. What’s more, the documentary’s effect may ultimately have been less subtle thanks to Riefenstahl’s brilliant cinematography.


  1. Berg-Pan, R., (1980) . Leni Riefenstahl. (W. French, Ed. ) . Boston: Twayne.
  2. Graham, C. G., (1986) . Leni Riefenstahl and Olympia. Metuchen, NJ & London: 1986.
  3. Hinton, D. B., (1978) . The films of Leni Riefenstahl. Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
  4. Hinton, D. B., (1991) . The films of Leni Riefenstahl (2nd ed. ) . Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
  5. Leni Riefenstahl: A memoir. (1993) . New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  6. Infield, G. B., (1976) . Leni Riefenstahl: The fallen film goddess. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.
  7. Kracauer, S., (1947) . From Caligari to Hitler. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  8. Salkeld, A. (1996) . A portrait of Leni Riefenstahl. London: Random House.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to
Robert C. Schneider
Physical Education and Sport Department
State University of New York at Brockport
350 New Campus Drive
Brockport, New York 14420-2914.
Phone inquiries may be made at (716) 395-2587 (work)
or at (716) 423-9603 (home).
Electronic mail may be sent via Internet to: rschneid@brockport.edu.


2013-11-26T21:47:01+00:00February 14th, 2008|Sports History, Sports Studies and Sports Psychology|Comments Off on Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympia”: Brilliant Cinematography or Nazi Propaganda?

Investors’ Opinions about Sports Marketing in Bahrain


The developmental policy aims at achieving the balanced growth in the different fields of development programs. Any retardation in these programs will heavily influence the growth of the other fields. Such balanced growth can be accomplished through creating waves of private investments in a number of various projects all at once so as to realize advancement in these fields (16).

We have to be absolutely certain that the individual does not move forward to invest unless s/he expects to make inviting earnings to the extent that it enables them to make the decision to invest. In other words, the investor is not convinced to invest unless it is anticipated to make much more profit than other alternative earnings that could be made if capital is directed to other uses (10).

The marketing position has acquired more importance and noticeable improvement in the essential efforts that aim at identifying the consumers’ needs and desires and translating these needs into a group of goods and services. These should be provided with the required quality and quantity, the prices appropriate for the nature of goods and services, and, further, appropriate for the consumer’s income. Every possible way of distribution should be exploited so that our products will reach the consumer. It is not only a matter of marketing, but of producing what is desired in the market.

Within the framework of this advanced marketing view, which is realized by the variety of investment directions whereas the profit made takes into account the variety of growth orientations, the sports field and all its activities cannot be ignored, owing to the fact that they provide the opportunity for producing diverse goods represented by contests as well as diverse services. For this reason, the sports activity has been introduced to be one of the economic investment fields, because it has been enormously increased during the late period of the 20th century because of the remarkable advancement in the sports information media.

The paramount importance of the crucial role played by the media in promoting sports in society is attributed to the characteristics and criteria such means of communication have. The media is diversified, since it works through the reading forms as well as through the visual aids, and can reach every corner of the world with suitable and effective manner. Consequently, the individual enjoys what is displayed in front of her/him (15).

The Study Problem

The use of scientific methods and the latest technological tools in administration and the different training fields in the sports sectors has been effective in increasing the levels of competitions concerning both the individual level as well as the communal one. Furthermore, this issue has contributed to spreading the professionalism phenomenon, the value of preparing champions, and maintaining their level.

This has caused a regular expansion of expenses and so it is important to search for diverse means of financial backing necessary for warranting the expected revenues that could accelerate the development of this field. To face this problem, many sports corporations, organizations, associations and clubs appoint special committees to examine the possibility of developing available resources and to investigate sports marketing as a means of supporting sports practices at all levels.

Within the functional responsibility’s framework of the researcher in the sports education field, her varied participation in numerous technical committees related to the official authorities responsible for the sports field in Bahrain; and besides her witnessing the voluntary activities in the field, she is capable of coming close to, researching, studying and examining the sports activity in actuality.

This requires organized efforts to accomplish many strategic goals to realize the constant promotion and enable the local contests’ levels and the championship field to enter the twenty first century. The researcher believes that the possibility of attaining the required development will not present itself unless we use scientific administration and take advantage of the earlier attempts at realizing the development we seek taking into consideration our local circumstances and abilities. It is also necessary that the continuous financing of these activities be provided, which cannot be supplied presently because of the State’s limited abilities and because we cannot keep waiting for a financial support from this party or that. It is also essential to study the different applications implemented throughout the world and by the countries seeking to become advanced. Looking around us, we will find that marketing in the Arab world or the gulf region positively contributes to the possibility of financing as well as it works as a motive to promote the standard level so that further success in marketing will be gained. Not only is this related to marketing the sports activities and services for those who regularly go to clubs or playgrounds, but also it has been introduced into coded channels and other means of communication.

As the sports marketing proceeds slowly in the Arab region and Gulf States because it is still in its beginning, it is the duty of researchers to conduct studies in order to identify the actual situation of sports marketing in Bahrain and participate in promoting this field as well.

This very issue has motivated the researcher to choose this topic as a beginning of a series of studies and research to identify the true status of the present sports marketing and to know to what extent the aspects of application and problems’ observations have reached. This is to be illuminated with the obstacles that impeded the process, the main activities that can be taken advantage of in marketing, the priorities of individual and group games and the various services that may help in the success of sports marketing in Bahrain. The purpose of this is to win a good position in the Gulf, Arab and international domains. It is because of the vital importance of this field and all the outcomes will be a good reflection on the Bahraini society.

Significance of the Study:

In the modern period, the sports field has become rich in its functions that it has taken the professional nature such as technicians, directors, experts and professionals. This criterion makes the field an esteemed profession (4).

The importance of research in the sports field is of secondary economic value regarding the individual and the state. Concerning the individual, it improves her/his health and physical abilities, lengthens the productive span and lessens the probability of work injury. For the state, sports increases the citizens efficiency and reduces the rates of remedial and rehabilitation consumption (1). Marketing is considered the main instrument for the economic and social development plan. Thus the state can achieve its goals, which are stepping up productivity, meeting the individual’s needs, increasing the national economy and enabling it to confront the international challenges, and creating new work opportunities that contribute towards raising standard of living (9). Sports is one of the most attractive fields for individuals from the different classes and ages. For this, sports playgrounds are not connected with competitive activities only, but they have become working targets for which individuals, companies and private firms pay for the investment’s sake. This is what actually occurs in various countries, whereas in the Arab countries and specifically Bahrain it is only recently that sports has been considered a subject for marketing studies and research in a limited manner, although it is a social and cultural activity that serves as a means of enjoyment, recreation, health and consumption aspects (5).

The complete development requires being concerned about the sports field. Sports marketing can be a natural way towards fulfilling it. This study is a serious attempt with which it is possible to identify the existent marketing situation of sports activities and services and see the sports scale as a marketing field besides other fields. We can also perceive its returns and economic benefits to the individual and the state besides analyzing the impediments of the private section participation in this field, which has proven to be a great success in many cases. This study also puts forward some proposals about the most important directions, activities and services that can be a productive domain for private capital.

The Study Objectives:


  1. The investors’ opinions about the impediments of sports marketing in Bahrain.
  2. The investors’ opinions about the proposed work spheres of sports marketing in Bahrain.
  3. The investors’ opinions about the most important individual and group games that bring success to sports marketing in Bahrain.

The Study Questions:

To accomplish the study objectives, the researcher formulated research questions about the investors’ points of view to articulate the true sports marketing situation in Bahrain. The study endeavors to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the investors’ views about the sports marketing impediments?
  2. What are the proposed work fields for sports marketing according to the investors’ opinions?
  3. What are the main individual and collective games that are successful in sports marketing according to the investors’ beliefs?

The Study Terminology:

“Marketing is a survey of views and trends that dominate the market so as to direct products and goods to match these views”. (14)


“It includes the organizations and individuals activities that facilitate and meet the communal relationships within a dynamic environment through presenting, distributing, merchandizing and pricing goods, services and ideas”. (10)

Sports Marketing “procedural definition”

It is the exchange of benefits between the investor and the consumer to meet the community needs for sports activities and services within an economic theory. This will achieve financing that will participate in the continuous promotion of the sports field.

“the possession of sources that will spurt out returns or capital profits”. (19)

Previous Studies:

Arab Studies:

  • Helmi Ebrahim (1995) conducted a study presenting generally the problems of financing and the methods of marketing sports in the United States. The study deals with the most important methods in sports financing and marketing. Some of the important problems are endowments, donations, carnivals, lots, charity festival, advertisements and patronage. (7)
  • Sari Ahmed & Suha Adeep (1995) made a study about the marketing methods done through the appropriate activities according to businessmen in Jordan.

This study was made in order to being acknowledged of businessmen’s opinions about preparing, organizing and defining the sports activity level they seek to involve marketing in. Besides, the study was to scope their opinions about the marketing methods in sports activities. (8)

  • Mohammed Ebrahim (1997) made a study evaluating Covered Sports Gymnasiums Block in Cairo Stadium from the sports and economic points of view. The researcher concluded that there was a deficiency in revenues in comparison with expenditures. (11)
  • Ashraf Hussein (1999) conducted a study about the impediments of sports investment in Egypt and approached numerous impediments. (2)

The Foreign Studies:

  • Handerson (1995) studied marketing of the sports recreational activities program for ladies to understand the foundations of the process of this program. (18)
  • Stolor & Bitts (1996) made a study about the foundations of sports marketing in order to conceive the principles of the sports marketing process.
  • Arnold Jay (1997) conducted a study about the sports clubs in colleges and universities to recognize the necessary procedures that should be taken on the part of the responsible directors and specialists of these clubs so as to attract financiers. (12)

The Study Procedures:

The Methodology Used:

The descriptive method is used because it is appropriate for the nature of study and because of its objectivity.

The Study Sample:

The study sample was chosen randomly. The actual number is 30 investors. All of them are Bahraini businessmen who have interests in the sports field. The questionnaire was conducted in January 2000.

Information Gathering Tools:

The researcher used questionnaires of her own design to be filled in by the investors. She followed the following steps in preparing the questionnaire form (Annex 1):

  • The theoretical reading of scientific references and the studies connected with the research.
  • Defining the pivots of the questionnaire. They were as follows:
    1. Impediments concerning the sports policy issue.
    2. Impediments concerning the laws and rules issue.
    3. Impediments concerning awareness of the sports marketing importance.
    4. Impediment concerning technical and administrative aspects.


  • The investors’ proposals for some suggested work opportunities of sports marketing in Bahrain.
  • The investors’ proposals for some individual and group games that can be successful in sports marketing.

All these pivots were brought before the experts, who were 10 professionals in management. It was provided that these people were university instructors and Ph.D. holders, besides their experience in the investment field and sports concerns. The experts agreed upon these pivots after combining some phrases, shortening a number of them and deleting others. The researcher removed some phrases graded less than 70% of the experts’ support. Therefore, the final form is as follows:

Point (issue)
of phrases
The sports policy in Bahrain The laws and rules organizing the activity Awareness of the sports marketing importance Technical and administrative aspects

The researcher specified a particular space at the end of the form for the sportsmen and investors’ proposals about the work opportunities and the important individual and group games that can be befitting in sports marketing.

Scientific Correlation of the Questionnaire form:

  1. Validity
    Content Validity
    The researcher applied content validity by bringing the questionnaire form – during preparation and before application in the final form- before a number of specialized experts (Judges Validity) in the investment field. They are ten experts.
  2. Reliability:
    The reliability of the questionnaire form was calculated by performing the test and retaking it for the second time after an interval of 10 days. It was conducted on an exploratory study sample represented by 10 businessmen investors, who were chosen randomly.

The correlation coefficients of the performances is (0.80 – 1), which indicates its reliability as its manifested in Table (1).

The Study Implementation:

The researcher carried out the questionnaire form by giving it to the study sample members after verifying its validity and reliability in the period 13-17 January 2000. The researcher used the statistical processes appropriate for this kind of study.

The Results Presentation & Analysis

The Results Demonstration:

Table (1):
The correlation coefficients of the two applications of the exploratory study sample we infer from Table (1) that the correlation coefficients of the two applications is (0.80 – 1), which indicates its

Table (2):
The proportional Importance of the investors’ opinions about the impediments of sports marketing in Bahrain regarding the
Bahraini sports policy It is inferred from Table (2) that the percentage of the investors’ opinions about the sports policy impediments in Bahrain is (86.66% – 93.33%).

Table (3):
The proportional Importance of the investors’ opinions about the impediments of sports marketing in Bahrain regarding the laws organizing the sports activity in Bahrain It is inferred from Table (3) that the percentage of the investors’ opinions about the impediments of the laws organizing the sports activity in Bahrain is (82.22% – 91.11%).

Table (4):
The proportional Importance of the investors’ opinions about the impediments of sports marketing in Bahrain regarding awareness of the sports marketing value in Bahrain. It is inferred from Table (4) that the percentage of the investors’
opinions about the impediments of awareness of the sports marketing value in Bahrain is (80% – 92.22%).

Table (5):
The proportional Importance of the investors’ opinions about the impediments of sports marketing in Bahrain regarding technical and administrative aspects It is inferred from Table (5) that the percentage of the investors’ opinions about the impediments of technical and administrative aspects is (77.77% – 91.11%).

Table (6):
The investors’ proposals for some suggested work opportunities concerning sports marketing in Bahrain It is clear from Table (6) that the percentage of the main investors’ suggestions in sports marketing is (53.33% – 90%).

Table (7):
The investors’ proposals for some individual and group games that can be appropriate for sports marketing. It is manifested from Table (7) that the percentage of the main investors’ proposals for some individual and group games that can be appropriate for sports marketing is (50% – 80%)

The Results Analysis

The Investors’ opinions about the sports policy issue:
It is inferred from Table
that the percentage of phrases is (86.66% – 93.33%). These obstacles are ranked in a descending order according to their percentage as follows:

  • The national sports level does not encourage to invest in the sports marketing field 93.33%
  • Giving no attention to the sports field unlike the case with the other economic fields 92.22%
  • Financing the sports activities does not accomplish the State’s policy in development 92.22%
  • The marketing plans at the national level did not include a scheme for sports marketing 88.90%
  • The State does not have future prospects for increasing investment rates in sports marketing 86.66%

It is clearly manifested that the national sports’ level does not encourage investing in the sports marketing field, unlike the other fields. Besides, financing sports activities by different sources does not contribute to the sports field development and consequently sports marketing. Furthermore, there are no specific official plans to increase the investment rates through sports marketing. The sports widespread throughout the world has become a burden to the administrative authorities and organizations in order to raise the sports standard of performance so that it will meet the spectators’ needs and desires, who are not satisfied with the local situation in comparison with what they see, read, or hear about other countries.

The Investors’ opinions about the laws organizing the sports activity:
As it is manifested in Table
, the phrases gained a percentage of (82.22% – 91.11%), which indicates that they express the investors’ opinions about the impediments connected with laws and rules. They are ranked in a descending order as follows:

  • There are no laws or rules organizing work in the sports marketing field 91.11%
  • The laws organizing customs exemption do not encourage investment in the sports field 88.90%
  • There are no State’s economic laws that encourage financiers to invest in sports marketing 88.90%
  • There is no official authority responsible for offering its services for work in sports marketing 85.55%
  • Certain impediments (bureaucracy) face investors when investing in sports marketing 82.22%

Thus, it is obvious that the impediments facing the investors and connected with the laws organizing the sports activity are the absence of those laws that organize work in sports marketing and those ones organizing customs exemption. Moreover, there are no State’s economic laws that encourage involvement in marketing, which articulates the passive role of the authorities that does not conform to that role of sports in a developing community. One of the impediments also is the absence of an official body responsible for offering services in sports marketing whether in the Public Institution for Youths & Sports or official corporations, which prevents investors from entering the sports marketing field besides the other obstacles that face them such as not protecting the investor and the absence of clear contracts between dealers in marketing.

Mahmood Ebrahim (11) agreed with this when he emphasized the necessity of a creating balance among the different marketing aspects taking into consideration that sports marketing and services should be in compliance with the financial laws and the public order. Sports marketing can not be activated unless there is a complete coordination with the responsible official bodies.

The above phrases are also supported by Stolor Bitts (13), who placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of knowing the principles that sports marketing is based on and that sports has become an industrialized field based on powerful economic pillars, not a mere individual activity.

Ashraf Mahmood (2) stated that there was not any official body specialized in sports marketing. He also articulated the difficulty in having financial support for sports projects.

The Investors’ opinions about awareness of sports marketing usefulness:
It is clear from Table (4) that the impediments ranked in a descending order are as follows:

  • The investor is not convinced of sports marketing as an activity given priority 92.22%
  • Investors are not convinced that sports marketing is a source of income 86.66%
  • The officials in sports organizations do not encourage working in sports marketing. 86.66%
  • Conviction that sports marketing is done by organizations and companies for its high cost 84.44%
  • Investors do not have a plenty number of sports activities and services to be used in marketing 80%

The general investors’ opinion that does not welcome marketing in sports field and does not appreciate the importance of sports in developing the individual and society and increasing work opportunities. So, sports marketing depends on the officials’ and investors’ conviction of working in such a field. Endorsing this, Jane Adams (17) articulates in his study the extent of sports marketing significance in improving the sports standard performance in Britain and increasing thousands of work opportunities.

Success in marketing depends entirely on the degree of the individual’s and corporations’ awareness of sports value concerning the individual’s lifestyle, the mass engagement in many games, and attracting investors to marketing in services, programs and various games.

Studies have demonstrated that profitability and revenues heavily influence the marketing process and so it is important to apply the scientific theories in determining expenditures and the expected revenues. This goes with what Mohammed Ebrahim (11) and Ashraf Mahmood (2) believe in. The latter stressed the importance of studying profit, the existence of specialized centers to gather information to lessen to the minimum the probability of problems taking place during implementation, and understanding the successful attempts taking into account the significance of seeking specialists’ assistance. While agreeing with this, Helmi Ebrahim (7) emphasizes the scarcity of specialists in sports marketing means, the importance of raising the employees and employers standards so that better work in sports marketing is guaranteed. Having shown this, we have answered the first question, which is: What are the investors’ opinions about the impediments of sports marketing?

Investors’ opinions about the technical and administrative aspects:

As Table (5) shows, the investors’ opinions about the impediments connected with the technical and administrative aspects are ranked in a descending order as follows:

  • Media coverage of sports events in Bahrain does not contribute to success in sports marketing. 91.11%
  • Financial organizations do not grant investors fiduciary facilities to invest in sports marketing 88.90%
  • The multiplicity of authorities that grant permits, for a lack of coordination 88.89%
  • The standard of work & activities of the main clubs discourages investors from entering the sports marketing field. 86.66%
  • There are no technicians specialized in the economic sector to work in sports marketing 86.66%
  • There is no previous experience in Bahrain concerning sports marketing. 85.55%
  • There is no special centers for making studies about the benefits of sports marketing 80%
  • There is no available data that help making research and studying the benefits of sports marketing in Bahrain. 77.77%
  • It is difficult to determine and realize the amount of profit in the long run 77.77%

It is obvious that the main impediment to marketing in the sports sectors, according to investors, is the absence of media coverage of sports events. This is because not giving media focus causes a difficulty in sports marketing like marketing matches, sports projects, the corporations events, installations and so on. This media deficiency might be attributed to the lack of scientific planing to be used in sports media, improving the means of communicating with the public, and creating integration between the media and comprehensive sports activity plans. This is what both Amima Munir Jado (3) and Jameel Abultayyeb (6) agree with. They mentioned the importance of the mutual understanding and healthy relations between the organization and its outside by means of reliable media so that consistency between the public and the organization will be realized. Sami Alseesi accepts this and adds it is essential that financial organizations grant loans’ facilities so that they will investment instead of hindering it.

One of the obstacles along with the above-mentioned is the multiplicity of authorities that grant permits as a consequence of the lack of coordination and the absence of a specific official body for this kind of investment. Unlike the other kinds of investment, granting permits takes a long time and the investor is faced with complicated administrative procedures because of the dealing difficulties between investors and the responsible sports corporations, which results in hindering marketing in the sports field. Mohammed Ebrahim (11) and Arnold Jay agree with this through placing a heavy emphasis on the importof simplifying the required procedures and that the different authories should have a good coordination. It is also manifested that the standard of work and sports activities does not encourage investors to introduce marketing in this field. What enters the equation also is the deficiency of technicians specialized in the economic sector to work in sports marketing. The lack of those skilled and experienced people in this field results in a scarcity of specialized centers that serves marketing and balance the proportion of benefit, the thing that depends on information-gathering. This difficulty in the availability and accuracy of data concerning sports marketing will cause a difficulty in defining the cost and revenue of any possible project, which, in its turn, will result in a trouble commanding or controlling prices or realizing them in the long term only.

The investors’ proposals for some work opportunities concerning sports marketing in Bahrain:
As it is shown in Table
, there is a number of work opportunities that have gained high percentages according to the investors’ view. The local and international championships got a less percentage maybe because of the weak technical standard and the absence of sufficient media coverage. Furthermore, the financial support on the part of the State of these championships do not help in a remarkable sports preparation and cannot introduce the limited local abilities to the international arena. For sports marketing to succeed, there must be capable and active media coverage that follows every sports event. Moreover, scientific methods must be used in administration by having fully awareand experienced persons as leaders in such activities. This is besides an actual participation on the part of economists. There should be organizing objectives, financial sources and administrative skills to determine the levels of competition, leading the training issue and selecting players so as to give fresh impetus to the marketing process regarding the local and international championships. Handerson (18), while agreeing with this, made it clear that the marketing process should bring into existence those services that specify the amount of profitability that individuals make. Stolor and Bitts (13) stress the importance of the sports marketing process as a comprehensive field.

Having covered this issue, we have answered the second question, which is: What are the investors’ proposals for some suggested work opportunities concerning sports marketing in Bahrain?

The investors’ proposals for some individual and group games that can be appropriate for sports marketing:
Table (7) shows that the weight percentage is (50% – 80%). By ranking it in a descending order, it will be as follows:

  1. Football 80% 3- Volleyball 66.66%
  2. Horse racing 70% 4- Track & field events 50%

Football obtained a high percentage because of its popularity followed by horse racing, volleyball and track & field. The other individual and group games did not obtain a high percentage in sports marketing. The investors think that football is an inestment field of 80% value while horse racing obtained 70%. The other individual and group games got low percentages due to the fact that they are not that popular. Since the Bahriani community is multinational, sports interests differ from one game to another. This is attributed to the weak technical and administrative aspects, the unsound financial support of clubs, and the insufficient media coverage of such games. We have to exploit the events that are more affective and popular. We should also seek to find the consumer and meet her/his needs in sports marketing by presenting the excellent standard. Having achieved this, sports events and sectors will be closely connected with economics and development. We should also open the door to researchers to benefit from this field and enrich it with their research efforts in order that the process required will take off sports marketing among the Arab countries in general and the Gulf States and Bahrain in particular.

Sari Ahmed (8) agrees with this and adds that the sports marketing process is connected with the level of championships and the performance level of players, teams and clubs. The investors’ opinions are limited to four games that procure success in sports marketing of a percentage of 80% to 50%. They all agreed that football is one of the most successful games among the individual and group ones. This is in accord with Sari Ahmed and Maha Adeep (8), who said that the most efficient activity in sports marketing was football, while the least one was gymnastics.

Thus, we have answered the third question, which is: What are the investors’ views about some individual and group games that can be successful in sports marketing?


In the light of the research results, the sample opinions, the tools used and the objectives of the study, the researcher could reach the following conclusions:

There are a number of impediments that hinder work in sports marketing from the points of view of the investors centering around the following issues or pivots:

  1. The sports policy aspect:
    This aspect focuses on the absence of concerns about the sports field, deficiency in financing and the absence of a long-term policy. This is besides the fact that the sports level does not assure investment and there are no future prospects for investment in this field.
  2. The laws & rules issue:
    This is summarized in the unavailability of laws and rules that organize work in sports marketing, the nonexistence of a specific official body and bureaucracy that faces investors.
  3. Awareness of sports marketing importance:
    This centers on the unawareness on the part of sportsmen, the investors’ uncertainty of sports marketing value, not popularity of sports and the withdrawal of responsible authorities.
  4. The technical and administrative aspect:
    This aspect is summed up as the lack of media coverage of sports events, the weakness of the technical standard, a deficiency of experienced sports management, the weak standard of clubs, the absence of specialized centers in studying and conducting research, and the unavailability of information.
  5. Some suggested work opportunities concerning sports marketing concentrated on commercial markets, marketing sports equipment and hiring out playgrounds.
  6. Concerning the order of the main games that are useful in marketing, football is ranked the first because of its popularity and media coverage of this game like in satellite channels and other means, which had an effect on its being selected as the first. Following football are horse racing, volleyball and track & field.


  1. Calling
    for a national conference at the state level whose participants
    include officials, sports-people, investors and media officials
    so as to discuss the present sports position, how to develop
    it, and the role of sports marketing in improving it. It
    must be taken into account the others’ experience in this
    field and that this study is to be the pivot that the whole
    discussion rotates about.
  2. The official bodies in the state should sketch a national
    strategy for the sports events taking place in sports associations,
    companies and school. This strategy should give more attention
    to young and novice people, expanding the practice opportunities
    and local or international competitions, and a good coordination
    with the tourist strip and investors in order to exploit
    tourist advantages in establishing festivals and competitions.
  3. Conducting
    a thorough review of those organizing laws and rules ithe sports strip, besides the manner by which we could better invest in the marketing field in a sense that it goes along with the progress required in this field.
  4. Giving more importance to preparing those people who have abilities, those can shoulder the burdens of functional and voluntary work in the sports strip as well as sports marketing and taking advantage of previous experiences conducted by those countries who are the pioneers in this field.
  5. Reexamining the role of the media, the techniques of supporting the sports process and presenting it in a way that it serves investors in sports marketing and benefits the sports strip.
  6. Considerable concern for what has been studied in sports marketing, for those games that are prioritized and for popular competitions and sports festivals.


  1. Ashraf Abdulmo’iz Abdularaheem: Evaluating the Egyptians Sports Clubs Economies, doctorate, unpublished, Physical Education (Boys), Halwan University. 1999.
  2. Ashraf Mahmood Hussein: The Impediments of Sports Investment in Egypt, doctorate, unpublished, Physical Education (Boys), Halwan University. 1996.
  3. Amima Munir Jado: Educational Programs, published by Dar Alma’arif, Read series, Cairo 1989.
  4. Ameen Alkhawli: Sports & Society, The National Council for Culture, Arts & Literatures. The World Knowledge series, issue 216, Kuwait, December 1996.
  5. UNESCO: Sports, its Political, Social & Educational Manifestations, translated by Abdulhamid Salama, the Arab Publisher of Books, Tripoli, 1986.
  6. Jameel Abultayyeb: The Arab Sports Association, Secretariat-General, the fifth session for organization and management, Rabat, Morocco, 1987.
  7. Helmi Ebrahim: A General Presentation of Sports Financing & Marketing in USA, the scientific conference ” Human Development & Sports Economy”, College of Physical Education (Boys), Halwan University, 1995.
  8. Sari Hamdan & Maha Adeep Marketing Methods Concerning Sports Activities according to Jordanian Businessmen, the scientific conference ” Human Development & Sports Economy”, College of Physical Education (Boys), Halwan University, 1995.
  9. Sami Alseesi The Effect of Economic Liberation on Investing the Egyptian Agricultural Field, doctorate, unpublished, College of Agriculture, University of Cairo, 1998.
  10. Mohammed Ebrahim: An Evaluating Study of the Covered Sports Gymnasiums Block in Cairo Stadium from the Sports and Economic Points of View, master’s thesis, unpublished, Physical Education for Boys, Halwan University, 1997.
  11. Arnold Jay: Clubs Sports in Colleges & Universities, for Sport and Physical Education was Hington, USA, 1997.
  12. Bitts, B. G: Stolor, D. K Fundamentals of Sports Marketing, Fitness in formation technology, Inc, Mor Go town, 1996.
  13. Bonnie, Park House: The Management of Sport Foundation & Application, Mosbey, 1994.
  14. George Azeushi: On Criteria for Assessing an Information Theory, Puter Journal, vol., 28, July 1985, p. 75.
  15. G. W. P. K. K. OG Zattan: Marketing Management, New York, 1987, p.67.
  16. Jane Adams: Sport Sponsorship in Britain, the Institute of Sports Sponsorship, Nov 1997.
  17. Handerson, K. A: Marketing Recreation & Physical Activity Program of Females, Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Aug 1995.
  18. HORNE V: Financial Market Rate & Flows, Cprantic Hall, Inc, 1987.
2016-10-21T10:05:04+00:00February 14th, 2008|Sports Management|Comments Off on Investors’ Opinions about Sports Marketing in Bahrain

Leadership Effectiveness for the Twenty-First Century


we move steadily through the first few years of the twenty-first
century, it is only natural to reflect upon the most significant
events of the twentieth century, and look ahead at what awaits
us, particularly the next few years. Perhaps one of the largest
groups of people pondering the future is the business community.
Given all of the technological changes which occurred during
the twentieth century, corporations have had to endure almost
non-stop change to remain competitive in the global market.
Open any history book to see the political changes…the end
of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the disintegration
of the Soviet Union…or the social changes…the development
of the entertainment industry with things like the television,
VCR, compact discs, personal computers, and the Internet…and
the economic changes…the global economy, instant communication
for business purposes, planes, and even the beginning stages
of video-conferencing.

everything and one can see the unprecedented changes which
have influenced business all over the world. The reality of
the world-wide economy and the proliferation of information
and technology has made corporations large and small begin
competing in a whole new manner. As a result, effective management
skills and leadership often determine whether or not a company
will survive. Open any business journal or trade magazine
and the myriad of articles talking about how to stay afloat
amid the flood of changes is overwhelming.

addition to businesses being forced to deal with a changing
society, education has also had to confront changes. One issue
involves the public desire for strong results in the end product
of children (Berry, 1997). According to Blankstein (1992),
the structures schools use to manage daily operations need
to be updated and changed in order to be relevant and meaningful
in today’s society. Blankstein also argued that without creating
a framework and structure for educational systems, all of
the current practices in schools are simply individual programs
which function ineffectively. While dealing with the above
management and organizational issues, school must also focus
on the need to graduate students capable of leadership in
a diverse and changing society (Seitz & Pepiton,1996).

we look toward the future, we must reflect on the past, evaluate
what has worked and begin plans for the twenty-first century.
What will leadership effectiveness mean in the next millennium?
Perhaps the best way to begin a conversation on this subject
is to turn to the greats in management theory–Deming, Shewhart
and Greenleaf. By examining different perspectives regarding
effective leadership and combining the best aspects of each
person, a mixture of philosophies and practices should emerge
which can continue to change with the times.

of the Literature

review of the literature reveals countless articles regarding
total quality management (TQM), effective management, quality
controls, employee empowerment and servant leadership. Articles
have been written applying these ideas to areas which include
everything from education (Berry, 1997; Blankstein, 1992;
Napier, Sidle, Sanaghan, & Reed, 1988; Scholtes, 1997;
Seitz, & Pepiton, 1996) to government (Levin, 1996, Scholtes,
1997) and even sports (Ho, 1997). What do all of these things
mean? What do the philosophies and methods have in common?

Quality Management Concepts

a very basic level, all of the ideas revolve around a few
concepts. First of all, management officials should always
act as leaders within their organization. It is the opinion
of the author that true leaders always give 100%, stick to
their beliefs, act for the good of their people/organization,
and accept the consequences of their actions. Managers acting
as leaders inherently produce quality products, interact with
employees in a positive manner and create a healthy working
environment based upon mutual trust. Furthermore, leaders
should always strive to bring out the best in people and encourage
the constant growth of every individual within the company.
Naturally, the leader must hold himself/herself accountable
to the same standards as the employees. If leaders create
a vision for their company and their people, and then take
the necessary actions to achieve their goals, businesses will
prosper in the years to come. On the other hand, as Scholtes
(1997) said, “if leaders don’t understand and lead systems,
organizations and communities will forever falter and will
probably not survive” (p 49).

speaking, the ideas mentioned above are all found in the theories
which exist in the business journals. For example, take the
total quality management approach. According to Grandzol,
& Gershon (1997), TQM can be best defined as, “a
holistic approach to running an organization such that every
facet earns the descriptive quality” (p 44). Every facet
obviously refers to a slew of other topics. Anderson, Rungtusanatham,
& Schroeder (as cited in Grandzol, & Gershon in 1997),
found seven guiding principles which repeatedly occurred in
the research of TQM: leadership, continuous improvement, internal/external
cooperation, customer focus, learning, employee fulfillment,
and process management. Each of the above mentioned principles
may be broken-down into the categories listed below.

example, in a broad sense, leadership refers to the clarity
of vision and the long-range orientation of the leader. It
also includes management through a coaching or participatory
style. Furthermore, leadership covers topics such as employee
empowerment and the planning/implementing phase of change.
The continuous improvement component allows for the refinement
of ideas and specific improvements to be made to the final
product or service. In addition, cooperation must be collaborative
between individual employees and teams of coworkers. The ultimate
goal of cooperation is to operate from an organization-wide
perspective where the entire business functions as one system
based upon trust and not fear. In terms of education, this
means schools need to focus on: implementing long-term planning,
addressing turnover rate of management (principals and superintendents),
eliminating arbitrary goals/quotas, revising the current appraisal
process of teachers, studying merit pay for teachers, and
reducing fear among educational participants (Blankstein,

course, businesses should always focus on the customer–all
actions should ultimately be based upon what the end result
provides the customer. One of the ways in which customer driven
focus occurs is through the continual process of learning
among corporation employees. The training provided through
the company enhances employees’ foundational knowledge as
well as process knowledge. The resulting educational development
and continuous self-improvement of all employees enables the
business team to better serve the customer. In fact, the training
and development often leads to an increased level of employee
fulfillment (job satisfaction, commitment, and pride).

again turning to education, Berry (1992) indicated schools
must begin being considered as service organizations concerned
with the needs of their clients/customers. As a result, Berry
argued schools must actively provide both employees and students
with services in the areas of educational programs, advice,
care, information and opportunities for specific skills training.
More specifically, Berry stated a TQM approach should include
the following areas: leadership roles, development of vision,
management by fact, team building, human resources, bench
marking, cycle time reduction and customer focus/satisfaction/measurement.
Unfortunately for educators, Berry also pointed to barriers
which face educators when applying TQM practices to school
systems: philosophical barriers, unclear relationships between
TQM and improved learning outcomes, difficulties with statistical
analysis, the customer/supplier relationship, customer-defined
quality concept, the industrial culture in education, the
introduction/development process and the inspection/evaluation

Finally, the last component of qualities associated with TQM
revolves around the concept of process management. The managers
of a business are directly responsible for prevention of mistakes
and reduction in mass inspections. Management must focus on
the company’s design quality and statistical control. The
managers and leaders are required to understand the concept
of variation and be able to use the idea to eliminate numerical
quotas and merit ratings. Furthermore, management must truly
understand motivation and be able to direct employee motivation
toward cutting total costs within the company and maintaining
a stable level of employment among the workers. All of these
ideas constitute the seven indicators of total quality management
(as described by Anderson, et al., 1994 and cited by Grandzol,
& Gershon, 1997)…but where did these ideas originate?

Shewhart, and Greenleaf

is important to backtrack to the works of W. Edwards Deming
and Walter A. Shewhart. Both men were classical American pragmatists
(Lovitt, 1997) that believed, “knowledge is grounded
in hard, measurable data” (p 99). Deming viewed businesses
as systems designed to please the customers. In order to please
the customer, Deming realized that a number of factors must
be addressed. First, the business must clearly identify the
customers and know what they want. Then, the business must
produce quality products that meet the customers’ needs and
desires. In order to do this effectively, the business must
function as a system of interrelated processes working at
optimal performance. Deming based his standards of optimization
on the work of Shewhart. Levels of acceptable variation could
be determined based upon the data collected by the business
(Roehm, & Castellano, 1997). A key component of this view
is the idea that when the system was not functioning at the
correct level, management officials need to find the cause
and solve the problem. Deming even modified Shewhart’s work
to create a method for problem solving to aid in this procedure.
The PDSA cycle (plan-do-study-act) refers to the process by
which people learn and improve (Lovitt, 1997).

one can see the relationship between the unofficial definition
of leadership and the works of the Deming and Shewhart. If
every employee at a given business focuses on expending 100%
effort and takes pride in their work, then it naturally follows
that the corporation would run at optimum levels and produce
high quality items. When the leader treats everyone with respect
and creates an atmosphere of trust, then employees will be
able to work towards continuous improvement, personal growth/development,
and learn. Few employees would be able to argue they were
unfulfilled! Even the customers would feel well taken care
of when they bought quality products which served their needs
and met high standards.

continuing with more details about Deming and Shewhart, take
a moment to relate Robert Greenleaf’s work to effective leadership
in the twenty-first century. Greenleaf’s concept of servant
leadership focuses on putting the needs of others above one’s
own needs. A leader concerns himself/herself about the employees,
the customers, and the community as the number one priority.
One knows he/she is truly adhering to servant leadership when
the people being served grow as individuals, are happy, and
become more autonomous. Perhaps the best reward is when someone
you have served takes on the role of a servant leader (Spears,
1994). Once again, these ideas fit with the first concept
of leadership–leaders strive to bring out the best in people
and encourage constant growth. This level of commitment and
service, if sincere, would enable businesses to prosper in
the twenty-first century.

that general ideas have been discussed, a closer look at Deming’s
work seems appropriate. One of the goals of Deming’s TQM movement
was to create a culture for change within an organization.
In order to create change, the head of the company must commit
to the hard work of developing a vision which the employees
will embrace. Deming created the following philosophical platform/framework
of fourteen quality management points: (1) create constancy
of purpose; (2) adopt a new philosophy; (3) stop mass inspections;
(4) end price-tag contract awards; (5) improve constantly;
(6) institute training; (7) institute leadership; (8) drive
out fear; (9) break down barriers; (10) eliminate slogans;
(11) eliminate quotas; (12) remove barriers to pride in work;
(13) education/re-training courses; (14) action (Berry, 1997).
These fourteen steps are not in any particular order but reflect
the ideas of Deming.

researchers have rearranged the order of the fourteen points
so that the points stress the commitment employers have to
employees (Roehm, & Castellano,1997). Still others have
chosen to focus on specific elements of Deming’s work. For
example, Ward (1997) zeroed in on the issue of implementing
employee empowerment. In the case of Blankstein (1992), five
of the points were connected to school related concerns. Additionally,
Lo (1997) used seven points to address issues related to major
changes within the philosophy of the organization. The bottom
line is that Deming’s work provides enough information to
effectively manage while at the same time, provides enough
flexibility to tailor the fourteen points to fit the needs
of a specific situation.

businesses experience the changes that will occur as time
goes by, it is important to continuously apply the PDSA model.
If businesses make it a habit of planning their course of
action, implementing the ideas of Deming, Shewhart, and Greenleaf
and studying the results, then corporations will be able to
act in the best possible manner to achieve customer demands.
When management follows the guidelines and applies 100% of
their efforts to achieving company goals, serving the needs
of employees/customers/community members, then the corporations
will be able to keep up with the changes and survive in the
new millennium.

and Conclusion

closing, businesses and schools throughout the world should
practice the leadership effectiveness models currently outlined
by Deming’s fourteen points, the PDSA learning cycle, and
the servant leadership paradigm of Greenleaf. When applied
in a consistent manner by individuals committed to working
with 100% effort and organized by people in leadership positions
willing to adhere to their beliefs, then success should follow.
The key is for the leaders to act in manners consistent with
the best interests of their people/organization. Of equal
importance is for the leadership team to accept the consequences
of their actions–both good and bad. Through modifying the
process and eliminating sources of inappropriate variations,
managers will facilitate the production of quality products.
Furthermore, employees will work within a positive, healthy
working environment. The high level of mutual trust combined
with the encouragement of leaders to pursue constant growth
will empower employees to actively participate in the entire
business process. With sound vision, people, and methods,
companies will achieve their goals, businesses will prosper,
and everyone will win together. In terms of education, students
will be prepared to enter the work force and educational professionals
will experience benefits similar to those in business. Leadership
effectiveness in the twenty-first century will ideally be
characterized by impeccable customer service, employee loyalty,
high standards, and individual growth.


J. C.; Rungtusanatham; & Schroeder, R. G. (1994). A theory
of quality management underlying the Deming management method.
The Academy of Management Review, 19(3), 472-509.

Berry, G. (1997). Leadership and the development of quality
culture in schools. International journal of Educational Management,
11(2), 52-64.

Blanksetin, A. M. (1992). Lessons from enlightened corporations.
Educational Leadership, March 1992, 71-75.

Grandzol, J. R.; & Gershon, M. (1997). Which TQM practices
really matter: An empirical investigation. Quality Management
Journal, 4(4), 43-59.

Ho, S. H. (1997). Problem solving and the Euro ‘96. Management
Services, January 1997, 10-12.

Levin, W. J. (1996). Could a dose of Deming transform government?
Journal for Quality and Participation, January/February 1996,

Lo, W. (1997). Application of Deming’s principles in the management
of change–a Hong Kong experience. The TQM Magazine, 9(5),

Lovitt, M. R. (1997). The new pragmatism: Going beyond Shewhart
and Deming. Quality Progress, April 1997, 99-105.

Napier, R.; Sidle, C. C.; Sanaghan, P.; & Reed, W. S.
(1998). Metamorphosis: Creating the capacity for change. NACUBO
Business Officer, January 1998, 18-28.

Roehm, H. A.; & Castellano, J. F. (1997). The Deming view
of a business. Quality Progress, 39(2), February 1997, 39-45.

Scholtes, P. R. (1997). Communities as systems: Americans
need to pick up where W. Edwards Deming left off. Quality
Progress, July 1997, 49-53.

Seitz, S.; & Pepiton, S. (1996). Servant leadership: A
model for developing college students. Metropolitan Universities,
Summer 1996, 113-122.

Spears, L. C. (1994). Servant leadership: Quest for caring
leadership. Inner Quest, 2, 9-13.

Ward, J. A. (1997). Implementing employee empowerment. Information
Systems Management, Winter 1997, 62-65.

2013-11-26T21:49:08+00:00February 14th, 2008|Sports Management|Comments Off on Leadership Effectiveness for the Twenty-First Century

Peace Through Sport and Religio Athletae: Antiquated Ideas or Viable Options?

Eight months ago, it seemed that the world rushed to embrace the “new millennium”, the dawn of a new era. This is understandable when viewed in the global context of the previous century. Two world wars, countless civil wars, the Cold War and attendant social and political unrest overshadowed many of the remarkable advances in science and technology. The Olympic movement was not immune from the political and social problems in the twentieth century and ultimately became a microcosm of global politics. As the dawn of the new millennium approached, many people reflected on past events and envisioned a new world, dare I say a New World Order, where peace, progress, character development and prosperity would become a reality and not simply a dream. This vision was not a new one. Early guardians of the modern Olympic Games such as Pierre de Coubertin, William Sloane, Jules Simon, and Fredrick Le Play must have shared this same optimism and hope for a renewal of moral character and a lasting peace as they rang in 1900. How could they have known that the twentieth century would be among the most tumultuous and deadly periods in the history of the human race? The turmoil of the early part of the last century had a profound impact on Coubertin. He became a tireless crusader for peace and social change. The question that begs asking is to what extent will the new leadership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continue Coubertin’s Crusade for peace and social change via sport?

The great philosopher George Santayana noted that “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness… Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Will the leadership of the Olympic Movement heed the eloquent words of Santayana relative to lessons lessons learned in the twentieth century or will the same mistakes be made again? A promising first step was taken in 2000 when the IOC and the Hellenic Olympic Committee established the International Olympic Truce Center in Athens.

The new millennium provides an opportunity for the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Movement to undergo a renaissance. A renaissance that once again reaffirms the belief in the utility of sport as a tool for peace and international understanding; not just in words but in deeds! In addition, the renaissance of sport can recapture the belief and practice when sport was a means of developing moral character instead of producing the “characters” that many contemporary athletes represent today.

World peace and prosperity for all is not a utopian dream but a moral obligation that we all must work to achieve. The Cold War approach to securing peace and harmony through military power by default engenders threats and conflict. We have no illusions about the necessity for strong national defense. There exist political and religious doctrines that reflect agendas that promote violence to achieve end results and we must defend ourselves and others against this threat. The horrific attacks of September are a somber reminder of this fact.

During Coubertin’s formative years, he supported a strong military to defend his beloved country. While this never changed, We believe he also envisioned an alternative to military might as a means to secure peace and social advancement. Could Olympism develop a credible doctrine that would serve to promote peace and international understanding? Could the splendor and worldwide appeal of the Olympic Games succeed in the diplomatic arena where others had failed relative to resolving conflicts? Could athletes deliver messages of peace and goodwill to competing nations more effectively than career politicians? Ever the romantic, Coubertin believed in “Peace Through Sport”. As a statesman, Coubertin sought to employ sport as an effective diplomatic tool that would bring people together and ultimately contribute to world peace.

Although Coubertin did not live to see his ideology succeed, perhaps the new millennium will provide the Olympic Movement with another opportunity to believe in the utility of “Peace Through Sport”. It is important to note that while Coubertin worked to bring about world peace he was not a pacifist. He, like the rest of France, wanted a powerful military in place to prevent another disastrous military defeat at the hands of the Germans or anybody else for that matter. However, Coubertin was well connected with individuals in the international peace movement during his time in Paris.

The Paris of the 1880’s was an international center for pacifists and the Peace Movement. Coubertin undoubtedly had contact with leading figures in this movement. Quanz believes, “pacifists provided an important impact on Coubertin’s plan to establish modern athletic contests within the milieu of major international exhibition.”(Quanz, 1993) In fact, Quanz notes, “Coubertin… consistently stressed the dual character of the Games, setting his philosophical tone in place when he dedicated the 1896 Games to both patriotism and world peace.”(p. 2) He maintains that pacifist philosophy was an important element in Coubertin’s plan to establish the modern Olympic Games, citing the list of individuals invited to the Congress at the Sorbonne and saying “there is little doubt that a definite contemporary ‘peace patronage’ was present at the Sorbonne proceedings.”(p. 4) But Quanz refrains “from boldly pronouncing a “pacifistic derivation theory” for Coubertin’s Olympic project, largely because there appears in the Baron’s scheme an independent interpretation of modern sport, namely, its reformation in the context of educational potential.”(p. 3)

While Coubertin had many friends within the peace movement and manipulated these relationships to his advantage in promoting the Games, his ideas concerning Olympic sport and internationalism should not be viewed as an attempt at pacifism. MacAloon notes, “Coubertin was not so much against war as for peace, and…he wanted a strong army worthy of domestic and foreign respect and capable of ensuring against another 1870.”(McAloon, 1981) To suggest that the International Committee for the Olympic Games was an extension of the International Peace Bureau would be a mistake. It seems Coubertin’s “internationalism” was multifaceted and incorporated notions of peace, patriotism, international cooperation, and serious athletic competition. Coubertin was a patriot who believed in the necessity of a strong national defense. He also believed and worked to achieve “Peace Through Sport”. Who says you can’t have it both ways?

The creation of the Olympic Truce Center is a positive step. We must not simply hope that the efforts of the Truce Center are successful, we must all work to insure its success. As Santayana notes, those who forget history are bound to repeat it. In the last century, the effort to maintain a lasting peace was a failure. The Olympic Games were cancelled because of World War I and World War II. The impact of the Cold War immersed the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games in nasty politics that nearly extinguished the Olympic flame. The Olympic Movement has much to gain, as we all do, in maximizing efforts to achieve peace. History has demonstrated that the Olympic Games, and all of us, have much to lose without a lasting peace.

The development of moral character and attendant decorum was a critical component of Coubertin’s Olympism. This concept is embodied, to a degree, in his idea of Religio Athletae. Coubertin’s idea was in part, an attempt to recapture what he believed to be the noble and virtuous qualities of sport that were present in Ancient Greece. These were timeless ideas and practices that would help him establish a stronger foundation for sport to cultivate proper moral character. As we shall see, although his concept of Religio Athletae suggests theological implications, it does not meet the criteria for this.

In his Olympic Memoirs, Coubertin (1931) states that sports were “a religion with its church, dogmas, service…but above all a religious feeling.” Two years before his death, in a 1935 radio address, Coubertin (1935) acknowledged:

The first essential characteristic of ancient and of modern OLYMPISM alike is that of being a religion…I therefore think I was right to recreate from the outset, around the renewed OLYMPISM, a religious sentiment transformed and widened by the Internationalism and Democracy which distinguish the present age, but still the same as that which led the young Greeks, ambitious for the triumph of their muscles, to the foot of the altars of ZEUS. The ideal of a religion of sport, the religio athletae, was very slow to penetrate the minds of competitors, and many of them still practice it only in an unconscious way. But they will come round to it little by little.

Coubertin’s first use of the term religio athletae came in a short article (1928). In it he outlines the best means for protecting his modern Games from the “excess that corrupted and ruined ancient athletics.”(p.6) Coubertin’s ideal for sport involved a world where “each young man possesses sufficient taste for athletic exercises to make him practice them regularly…seeking in wholesome sports an admirable means to perfect his health and increase his strength.”(p. 5) He admitted this was unrealistic and that a “system of organized competition” would need to take its place. But this sort of competition would inevitably lead to corruption. Therefore a “regulator,” such as the Greeks found in Olympia, would need to be incorporated into the modern Games. Coubertin alluded to the Ancient Olympics and the “spirit of almost religious reverence” with which the young men approached them. For Coubertin, this reverence was derived not from “sacrificing solemnly before the altar of ZEUS,” but from “taking an oath of honor and disinterest, and above all in striving to keep it.”(Coubertin, reprinted in 1967, p. 6). Thus, Coubertin sought to protect the sanctity of his modern Olympics by incorporating a similar oath into their opening ceremonies. It was precisely this religious ritual of athletic competition that the Baron was seeking to promote in his Olympism.

There remains then the deeper question of what Coubertin meant by labeling Olympism as a religion. Did he in fact suggest that this Olympic philosophy could assume the role of a religion? Or might this be another example of the Baron’s idealism, an attempt at promoting Olympism by invoking the Greek’s conception of the religious nature of sport as honoring the gods? Nissiotis (1986) provides insightful criticism concerning these questions. He takes Coubertin’s understanding of the relationship between Greek sport and religion to task:

He [Coubertin] committed an error, if I may use that expression, by confusing the sacred-the sacredness of the human act when it transcends itself, reaching for the infinite and absolutely transcendental divine-and the sacredness which the Greeks understood by “ieros”, that is the separate, that which confronts us, outside ourselves…For the ancient Greeks, there was an enormous difference between sport which honoured the gods, and sport seen as a god, sport as a “religion.” (p. 168)

Coubertin may not have anticipated the ramifications of this overzealous mistake, but they can be seen in the words of some of his successors, including former president of the IOC Avery Brundage (1964), when he proclaims, “It is a 20th Century religion which Coubertin founded in the Olympic Movement, a religion with universal appeal which incorporates all the basic values of other religions, a modern, exciting, virile, dynamic religion, attractive to Youth, and we of the International Olympic Committee are its disciples.”(p. 2) Would Coubertin have endorsed this pronouncement of OLYMPISM as a “20th Century religion?” If not, what would cause Coubertin to risk labeling sport as a religion?

Nissiotis (1986) suggests that Coubertin was motivated by:

An unbound enthusiasm in a secularised era, characterised by the absence of the gods…he wanted, through sport, to keep young people looking towards the infinite, that which is dazzling and gives to life its supreme spiritual meaning. He wanted modern youth, thus armed, to be able to go beyond the mechanics and sciences of the modern era, re-establishing religion in a realistic dimension.(pp. 168-169)

The Europe of Coubertin’s era was undergoing a rapid transformation in philosophical and religious thought. Secularism and a kind of scientific positivism were rapidly replacing the Christian God of traditional European culture. Coubertin sensed this spiritual vacuum left by the removal of the divine. Thus to the youth of the world he offered:

Olympism as religion, a serious appeal to take with complete devotion its humanist principles impregnated with Greek philosophy and Christian faith, above all kinds of dogmatic absolutism against other social beliefs and conditions. OLYMPISM in the service of peace, democracy and internationalism, and of the moral transformation of man, giving him a dignified character, regenerating him by the achievement of equilibrium between body and mind, through athleticism in its Olympic sense.(Nissiotis, 1996, pp. 76-77).

Also critical to Coubertin’s religious approach to Olympism was the idea of “mutual respect.” By respecting differences between various creeds, young people might “re-establish religion in a realistic dimension,” the dimension of competitive athletics on an international level. Both Nissiotis (1973) and Professor Liselott Diem emphasize this attempt of Coubertin at transcending religious dogmatism: In order to respect one another, we should know one another. The ignorance of the Catholic for the Protestant can only be compared to the ignorance of the latter for the orthodox. No one tries to know what a Baptist thinks, or a Methodist, a learned Moslem or an open-minded Buddhist. The Mentality of Israelis, Hindous [sic], Shintoists are not studied. It is much more important to know these things than to know the age of the pithecanthropus or the carcass of the diplodocus. Because this is life itself, today’s life, the deep life of man.(Coubertin, 1908)

It is especially in the religious examination of Olympism  that Coubertin’s lifelong idealism and his ever-present concern for educating youth emerge.

The exact relationship between Olympism and religion remains problematic. It is tempting to presume Coubertin sought to establish a new world-religion in Olympism. His writings fail to explain precisely what he meant by sport in the religious sense. The terminology used by the Baron has lead to confusion within the Olympic community as well as suspicion from outside religious organizations. However, it seems most likely that, in his idealism, Coubertin sought not to establish Olympism as a religion in the traditional sense, but to infuse it with religious meaning and demand a religious commitment to this philosophy of moral education, international peace, artistic beauty and physical effort. In this philosophy we see an appeal to the transcendent, religious nature of sport joined with the concept of mutual respect among peoples in an effort to educate youth and promote peace on an international level.

Was Coubertin’s belief in “Peace Through Sport” a utopian dream or a viable diplomatic option that, until now, has been largely ignored? Have the qualities and characteristics that reflect Coubertin’s Religio Athletae become antiquated and outdated or do might they still have a place in the new millennium? Will there be a renaissance of sport in the new millennium where the development of moral character will become important or will this concept, sport as a means of character development, be assigned to the dust bin of history? Only time will tell.


Brundage, Avery (June, 1964). “Baron Pierre de Coubertin,” from Text for the Plaquette Lexueuse Celebration 70th Anniversary of Revival of Olympic Games by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Sorbonne, J, p. 2.

Coubertin, Pierre de.(1931) Olympic Memoirs. Text originally published by the Bureau international de pedagogie sportive in 1931, then reprinted by the International Olympic Committee in 1976, 1979, and 1989, Lausanne, 115.

Coubertin, Pierre de. (1935) The Philosophic Foundation of Modern Olympism, Reprinted in The Olympic Idea. Hofmann, 1967, p. 133

Coubertin, Pierre de (1928)  du Bureau International de Pedagogi Sportive 1, 1928, pp. 5-6.Pierre de. “Religio Athletae,” Bulletin

MacAloon, John J. (1981) This Great Symbol. Pierre de Coubertin and The Origins of The Modern Olympic Games. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nissiotis, Nikolaos (March, 1986). Pierre de Coubertin’s Relevance from the Philosophical Point of View and the problem of the “religio athletae, abstract from: “L’ACTUALITE DE PIERRE COUBERTIN DU POINT DE VUE PHILOSOPHIQUE et le probleme de la “religio athletae”, presented at the Symposium: The Relevance of Coubertin Today,” Lausanne, 18-20 March, 1986, pp. 125-178.

Quanz, Dietrich R (1993). “Civic Pacifism and Sports-Based Internationalism: Framework for the Founding of the International Olympic Committee.” Olympika, Vol. 2, 1-23.


2013-11-26T21:50:46+00:00February 14th, 2008|Sports History|Comments Off on Peace Through Sport and Religio Athletae: Antiquated Ideas or Viable Options?