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The politics of sports development
  1. Brian Walker
  1. Sports Medicine Centre, University of Edinburgh

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    B Houlihan, A White. (Pp 250; £19.99). Routledge, London, 2002. ISBN 0-415-27748-5 (hbk), 0-415-27749-3 (pbk).

    This is a book that will attract anybody who has an interest in sports development, developing sport (the book makes clear the important differences between these two concepts), or even an interest in organisational and political history of sport in the UK in recent times (1960 onwards). In the latter context two of its summary tables of policy changes and environment would be worth the purchase price alone.

    The first chapters deal in chronological order with the origins of sport development, its coming of age, welfare change, and Mr Major’s changes for sporting glory and the impact of New Labour. The next chapter analyses sport development in four local authorities. These are Derbyshire County Council—a mixed area with significant poor areas and a partnership forum that demonstrates advantages and disadvantages; Herefordshire Council—an older more rural population with a use of trusts as a key aspect in their policies; Kent County Council—a vigorous sports development unit; and Coventry City Council—a largely industrial area using interesting partnerships. All four areas have different problems and strategies but currently partnerships and trusts seem to be the way forward.

    The next chapter deals with four governing bodies of sport and their strategies and policies. There is much success such as Project Oarsome in rowing, rugby union, and hockey with a slight caveat on female development in the last two. Tennis has not been quite so successful.

    The final chapter is entitled “Development of and/or through sport”, which summarises and philosophises.

    Underlying emotions while reading this book were of dismay at the political interference, frequent changes in policy, and the appalling propensity to re-organise nationally and locally but uplifted occasionally by the success stories mentioned.

    This book is a “must read” for anyone who is interested in these fields.

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