Social exclusion refers to a situation in which some specific individuals of the society are blocked from accessing the necessities accessed by other members and that can facilitate their integration in the society (Hills et al, 2002). These necessities can include; opportunities, rights and resources such as democratic participation, employment, housing, participation in sports, among others. Social exclusion may also be defined as “social bond rapture”. It is a process of declining participation, solidarity, as well as access. At the societal level, it replicates inadequate social structure or assimilation. At the individual level, it refers to the inability  to contribute in normatively expected social activities and to build meaningful social relations” ( Silver & Miller, 2006).

Social exclusion is evidenced directly or indirectly in the society. It is manifested directly whereby some people or many people are cut off from various activities, opportunities, or even welfare benefits because of certain factors such as rules, policies, or laws that have been set up. Direct social exclusion is also manifested in the elimination of people from accessing necessities or opportunities accessed by others based on such people’s physical abilities or inabilities, race, tribe or even country of origin. Indirect social exclusion on the other hand is a form of social exclusion that is caused by the failure of the government or the society to empower some of its people, thereby making such people unable to access opportunities, services, products, and other things accessed by members of the society. Social exclusion is a disadvantage, which is likely to affect the level of integration of some members of the society. This is because the socially excluded members of the society feel out of place, oppressed and bitter. Such members of the society also feel sidelined by the society and not fully catered for by their society (Levitas, 2000). This therefore makes it highly unlikely to achieve integration in such a society or country.

Social exclusion exists in many forms in various spheres of life, for, example, in education, health, employment, sports and games, entertainment, professions and many other spheres in life. Social exclusion is determined by a lack of access to four basic social systems. These basic social systems are democracy, welfare, labour markets, family and community (Collins, 2003).This essay looks at social exclusion in sport leisure and health.

Social exclusion in sport leisure involves denying someone or people an opportunity to participate in sports. Social exclusion in sport leisure can happen directly, indirectly or both. It happens when due to one factor or another, a person is denied the chance to participate, actively or inactively, in sports. The main causes of social exclusion in sports are poverty, unfavorable policies on sports, and health(Collins, 2008).

Poverty level is one of the aspects that are likely to make individuals in specific social context be excluded (Collins, 2008). Poverty is a major factor that greatly influences social exclusion in sports. Poverty may be broadly classified into two: relative poverty and absolute poverty. Relative poverty refers to a situation where a person earns less than the country’s or society’s standard of expenditure. A person is considered relatively poor if their income is less than the standard expenditure in the society. Absolute poverty is a situation where a person is unable to afford basic human needs i.e. food, shelter, clothing and healthcare. A person who is absolutely poor is unable to provide himself or herself, and his or her family, the basic human needs.

Largely, the exclusion emanating from the poverty level is normally associated with the level of income of the people involved. The level of income one earns influence their inclusion or exclusion in sports. The high income earners and middle income earners tend to be catered for in sports. On the other hand, the low income earners, and the absolute poor are excluded either directly or indirectly from participating in sports leisure. The low income earners income may not allow them sufficient free time to participate in sporting activities. This is because such people prefer using their free time doing extra jobs to make ends meet rather than spending such time participating in sports either actively or passively. The absolute poor are also excluded from sports by their poverty situation. This is because such people prefer spending their time looking for income to provide for their basic needs rather than using such time for sport leisure. The absolute poor may not afford buying sporting facilities or equipments necessary to engage in their specific favorite sports. This therefore socially excludes such people from participating in sports. 

Poverty may also indirectly lead to social exclusion in sports. For example, people who have been brought up in poverty may not even think of some sports since they have never come across such sports or even participated in such sports in their lifetime. This therefore indirectly locks out such people from participating in such sports thereby leading to social exclusion in sports in the society.

Poverty also can lead to social exclusion in sports especially where sports facilities are located far from residential areas. This is because the poor may not afford the fare to the sports facilities and from the sports facilities to the homes. Therefore, poverty locks out many poor people from participating in sports since such people, even when they are very willing to participate in the sports, lack the financial capacity to make their desire come true. The poor in this situation will make a priority analysis between sports and their basic needs and automatically end up choosing to spend the little resources they have in meeting their basic needs. On the other hand, geographical proximity of the sport facility, i.e. within a walking distance, is highly likely to promote participation in sports by the financially poor people in the society(Collins,2003). This is because when easy access is provided to the sports facility, the poor do not have to spend money on transport to access the facility.

Unfavorable Policies on sports also contribute a lot towards social exclusion in sports. Such policies make it hard for some people to participate in certain sports. For example, in women lawn tennis, the policy of the sport outlines how lawn tennis players ought to dress and states that players have to strictly follow the stipulated dress code. The stipulated dressing code is too short and indecent to Muslim women and strict Christian women. The policy therefore excludes women or girls from the two faiths who wish to play lawn tennis without going against their religious beliefs(Collins, 2008).

Health is also a major issue that influences social exclusion in sports. Many sports require participants to be of good health and sound mind. This therefore locks out people suffering from one health condition or the other, even when such people are willing to participate in the given sport. There are also health conditions that weaken the body of the sick, making him or her unable to participate in sports. Sport is very important in health as it influences health positively. Sport’s unique and universal power to attract, motivate and inspire makes it a highly effective tool for engaging and empowering individuals, communities and even countries to take action to improve their health. Sport can also be a powerful means of mobilizing more resources in the global fight against disease, but this potential is only just beginning to be realized (Payne, 2006). It is therefore important to ensure social inclusiveness of all people, both the healthy and the unhealthy in sports as this will help improve their health.

Policy landmarks influencing sport between 1979 and 1997

The period between the year 1979 and 1997 was marked by many policies influencing sports. These policies were developed with the intention of improving sport in the country and in the world and ensuring good management of sports and the resources related to these sports, both human resources and the material resources. These policies are discussed below:

Social and welfare policy 1979-1990 is one of the welfare policies passed to help improve the welfare of people. The policy emphasise on individual choice and responsibility. The paper is hinged upon these two prominent values, which are meant to ensure that individual choice, and responsibilities are provided for in the country.

Thatcherism and Neo-liberalism policy of the 1980s is another policy that influenced sports and leisure activities. Under this policy, the government, through the sports council began giving resources to the performance and excellence levels of the sport development continuum. The policy also sought to market sport, both locally and internationally. It paved for marketing of sport in the United Kingdom. This was based on the faith that if sport was advertised well, it was likely to grow and become a successful venture. In marketing sports, various techniques were to be employed to popularize and make it more appealing to both the players, fans and all other stakeholders in the sporting field.

Scarman Report 1982 is another policy document developed in response to the inner city riots. The report encouraged participation in sports among people living in the inner city. The report established that participation in sports in the inner cities was low. This is despite the fact that most sporting facilities were located very close to these areas. This may be attributed to the income levels of the low income groups and their prioritization of needs. The low income groups may not find time for sports since most of their time is spent looking for money to purchase basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter. Therefore, though such people may be interested in sports, their financial situation does not allow them to use their free time on sports, unless there is some earning in sports. This phenomena where sporting facilities are located in the inner cities, very close to low income groups and yet the level of participation in sports among these people is low led to the conclusion that bringing sporting opportunities closer to local communities is not genuine community development (Gordon,2000).The report therefore called for other different approach in the management of sport to ensure social inclusion in sports among all people, i.e. both the high income, middle income and the low income groups.

CCT 1988 Local Government Act is another major policy that affects sports. This legislation actively encouraged commercial sector into services traditionally provided by the Local authority. The legislation introduced tensions between the financially driven contractual services and the cultural and social goals associated with sports. This is because the emergence of commercial sector in provision of sporting services and facilities changed the traditional perspective of sports from sports being a social and cultural event to a financial investment. The legislation introduced a perspective of sports being an investment which can be managed and its needs be provided for by the commercial sector. It clarified the role of local authority in sport and leisure. The legislation unleashed the market forces in sports and leisure. Maintenance of sports’ fields and provision of services in sports was to be done by the private sector. This was to be done through a fair and competitive market system where the entrepreneur or company with the most competitive offer would be given the right to provide the services in sports and also sporting equipments. The legislation hoped that this approach would help improve sports in the country.

Key political values and ideologies which underpin New Labour

The New labour policy was introduced in the year 1997. This policy had many political values and ideologies which made it different from any other policy before it. The new labour policy re-introduced the legacy of direct service provision. It reconstructed the operational arms of the local government and stated out clearly that sports and leisure were the only welfare services to be subjected to CCT. This is because they were qualitatively different from other services.

The new labour policy was anchored upon several key political values and ideologies. These political values and ideologies were in a way a culmination of the people’s expectation on how things ought to be done and how things should be. They included demographic renewal, community leadership, new ethical framework and partnership.

In demographic renewal, the new labour policy aimed at reducing the gap between those with many resources and those that lacked. It hoped to achieve empowerment of people within the country so that the gap between people in resources is not too big. It hoped to empower people in the inner cities and other low income areas. This will enable create an environment where each citizen will afford a descent life. The policy also hoped to encourage settlement in areas that due to one reason or another had been abandoned, leaving little population or no population at all. In order to achieve this, use of incentives was considered paramount.

Community leadership is also another key political value or ideology upon which new labour was based. Leadership within the community and by the community was envisioned by the new labour policy. The community was to be involved actively in leadership in development matters and social cultural matters that affected them. This was going to help empower the community in knowledge and leadership. It would also help realize important community inputs in projects by the local authority and the government. Community leadership was also considered a strong ideology since it was going to help get community’s good will in development projects involving sports leisure, culture and other aspects.

New ethical framework is also another ideology advanced in new labour policy. Ethics in the local authority was emphasized. A new ethical framework was developed to guide how public employees were to behave at work and in any undertaking involving work. The new ethical framework was an attempt to ensure quality service delivery to the society by the local authority e.g. it was supposed to ensure quality service delivery in sports and other leisure activities.

Partnership between the local authority and the private sector is also another ideology that was advanced by the new labour policy. The policy proposed a partnership between the local authority and the private sector in service delivery, development projects and in other relevant undertakings.

Sport and social Policy

The Welfare and social policy of the mid 1990s was anchored on two main concepts: individual choice and responsibility. The policy emphasized on the need for respect to individual choice and responsibility. Under this policy, the state was to play the role of an enabler in sports and other undertaking. The policy also proposed the establishment of an illustrative sports policy that would responsible for talent identification, creation of sports action zones and ensuring world class performance.

Historical perspectives on sports development policy

In the 1960s, the illustrative sports development policy was developed. It emphasized on sports for all people. It addressed issues on social inclusion for all in sports. The 1960s also saw the establishment of voluntary sports clubs, national governing bodies, and local sports associations. The 1970s, unlike the previous decade was characterized by rapid and massive public investment in sports, sport centers and recruitment of professional staff. There was also an emphasis on increasing opportunities to participate in sports. All these activities were driven by the local authorities. In the 1970s also, i.e. in 1975, the “White paper Sport and Recreation” was passed. It confirmed sport as legitimate element of welfare (White Paper Sport and Recreation, 1975).

The period between 1980 and 1990s was marked by illustrative sports development policy. Many sports facilities were developed during this period. During this period also, the sports council gave significant resources to enhance performance and excellence in sports. Marketisation of sports was also introduced during this period.

In conclusion, issues on sports development, policy and practice were addressed. Social exclusion in sports and health has been addressed and its various forms highlighted. Sports development in the country has also been looked at in detail. Policies on sports were also discussed individually and their key highlights noted. The paper concludes with a historical perspective in sports development policy.

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