Early bird
tickets
available now!
Conference Report
Sport And ID

Sport is as much about identity as it is winning and losing. Swansea University celebrated the relationship between cultural identity and sport at a recent conference. Terry Stevens reports

By Professor Terry Stevens | Published in Sports Management 16 May 2016 issue 120


In April, the School of Management at Swansea University organised and hosted a unique gathering of more than 300 people for its Gwlad, Gwlad: Sport, More than a Game conference. Coaches and players, globally recognised architects, administrators, community interests and – of course fans – came together to consider the relationship between sport and identity and its many different dimensions.

The conference was chaired by Professor Laura McAllister, former chair of Sport Wales, with support from Keith Wood, the former Irish Rugby captain and founder of W2 Consulting.

Swansea – Centre for Excellence
Swansea University has strong foundations on which to base the theme of this conference. Within the school, Professor Peter J Sloane is regarded as one of the founders of the economics of sport in Europe, while The European Institute of Identities is forging new international relationships to examine the business and cultural aspects of this theme.

In 2007, the (then) First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan, wrote that “In all societies, sport started as a practice for hunting and then a practice for war, or later as a substitute for war. In Wales… a special kind of need for (sporting) heroes exists that could reassure us of our existence as a country. Indeed, our national anthem makes the strange transition from its words of praise for the loss of blood of slain heroes on the battlefield into encouragement of heroic effort on the sports field.”

A subject with wide appeal
Sport and identity is a topic of considerable and increasing importance in the context of global branding of destinations and the economic success of sports clubs and facilities. It also has a wide appeal.

Almost everyone on the planet has engaged in sport at one time or another. Whether it be competing in an Olympic final or kicking a ball around the park with childhood friends.

Similarly, we all have identities – some observable, such as male or female, black or white – others often more difficult to identify – be they Welsh or Italian, atheist or Hindu, monolingual or multilingual.

During the event, the implications and opportunities of developing local relationships and the challenges associated with sport development in a diverse, multi-cultural society were examined by Colin Reagan, health and community manager of the Gaelic Athletics Association, Hala Ousta, the diversity and inclusivity officer for the Scottish Football Association and Harry Connolly of Visit West Belfast.

They gave us insight into the marked difference between the New Zealand Maori who played rugby for the All Blacks, the Irish jockey who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Coxless Crew who spent 257 days at sea to raise money for various charities.

Delegates listened intently to Willie Cameron, of Loch Ness Marketing, who explained the heritage of shinty and the Highland Games, while Enda Lynch, the commercial and marketing manager of Munster RFC, discussed how Munster as a provincial rugby club has developed as a new brand over the past 10 years.

Jordi Penas I Babot, director of the Museum at FC Barcelona, illustrated the depth to which Barca embraces its Catalan heritage and community.

Each case study demonstrated the interplay between sport, identities and location. It’s this interweaving that makes sport and identity such an interesting subject for discussion.

Reinforcing our identity
But why are identities important when it comes to sport? We reinforce our identities when, for instance, we purchase our favourite team’s new kit when it’s released in the summer, or when we renew our season ticket. So the reinforcement becomes a year-round, ongoing process and part of our lives.

Deep connections
This deep connection between community and sports club is well illustrated with the involvement of the Swans Trust – a fan-based group that was instrumental in saving Swansea City FC from relegation from the Football League and financial oblivion, and that now owns 21.1 per cent of the shares of the Premier League club.

The Trust’s chair Phil Sumbler and board member Alan Lewis told their story in discussion with broadcaster Mal Pope, producer of the award-winning film about the saving of Swansea City – From a Jack to a King, and city councillor Robert Francis Davies.

Personal challenges
So our personal association with these identities is important, but do we ever question them? University of Bedfordshire professor Garry Whannel believes so, and he noted how the film Bend it Like Beckham challenged us to think about our identities. He suggested it held up a mirror and said to us “who are you, and what part do you play in this?” The film itself works on so many different levels and genres. It encompasses the diversity and struggles within sport, and reflects place and community settings. Although fiction, the film is essentially a social documentary. It allows for our dreams to intermingle with the harsh reality of events and actions that quite often burst our bubble – a typical day’s emotions many may feel.

The stadiums and arenas in which these emotions are played out are often referred to as ‘cathedrals’ of sport. These venues need to reflect the interests, ambitions and aspirations of the fans, the clubs and the hosts. Geraint John of Populous explored the design response to this increasingly important brief.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the event for many was the session with Wales national football coach, Chris Coleman, who received a warm welcome back to his home city prior to embarking on the Euro 2016 adventure with his Welsh team. Coleman gave a masterclass on leadership and the importance of the hugely successful, highly emotional national engagement strategy – Together, Stronger - which was masterminded by the Football Association of Wales and their head of communications, Ian Gwyn Hughes.

Conclusions
Gwlad, Gwlad, is a segment from the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, in which singers professes faithfulness to their country. This allegiance, in public form, is fundamental to the notion of national representation – identity at its pinnacle, one could argue. Equally, on a local scale, we witness participants and fans showing support for village, town, city or regional teams. Thus, we can trace a multi-layered effect.

With that as a backdrop, some key questions emerged about the social, cultural, political and economic conditions in which each and every one of us find ourselves as sports activists and practitioners: how can we nurture and maintain sporting and community relationships that bind us closer together? Is it possible for us to replace traditional vertical structures which comprise directors, managers and fans, with horizontal set-ups base around things like cooperative ownership of clubs and facilities and grassroots governance?

If this were to occur, would this affect the identities of our sports clubs and institutions? What attracts us to certain sports or teams? Is it peer loyalty, location or family? Are our loyalties substantial and deep-rooted, or are they thin, meaning we transfer our affiliations from time to time? Do a team’s colours or facilities attract us? In this sense, how much importance do we put on marketing and branding?

Gwlad, Gwlad offered a platform for networking and discussions around all these topics. We all learned more about our favourite sport, discovered interesting facts, and heard forthright views on lesser-known sports.

So, Gwlad, Gwlad brought together sportsmen and women with managers, administrators, academics and fans. The gathering explored and discussed the relationship between sport, sports teams and the ‘fields of dreams’ stadiums that accommodate these teams with the identities, branding and positioning of their host cities, regions and nations.

It recognised that sport amounts to nothing unless there is the full participation and commitment of the fans – the bill payers, lest we forget.


Key conference takeaways
1. The key is to engage with the community and the fan at every level

2. Inspiring people to take an interest in their health and wellbeing is a really positive outcome of links with sports teams and clubs

3. Sports clubs are more than brands – they reflect a community’s aspirations and ambitions, hopes and fortunes. Irrespective of success on the field of play they are the vehicles for community collaboration

4. Success on the field is ONLY translated into positive emotions for community identity if there is a clear rallying point that captures the public’s imagination – the FAW Together, Stronger campaign did just that and Leicester City’s galvanizing of the interest of the world was as much about the narrative and story as it was about the winning

5. Narrative and answering the question ‘Why?’ is the key to successful relationships between sport and positive community identity.Terry Stevens

Wales football coach Chris Coleman (left) gave a talk about how to engage with a nation. Seen here with Swansea’s Prof Marc Clement and Dr Terry Stevens (right)
Purchasing team kit creates a year-round connection Credit: nick potts / EMPICS Sport
The All Blacks’ haka is one of the most recognisable and powerful demonstrations of identity in sport Credit: david davis / press association images
 


CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
LEISURE MEDIA WEBSITES
LEISURE MEDIA PRODUCT SEARCH
PRINT SUBSCRIPTIONS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS
 
24 Jul 2024 Leisure Management: daily news and jobs
 
 
HOME
JOBS
NEWS
FEATURES
PRODUCTS
FREE DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION
PRINT SUBSCRIPTION
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine

Features List



SELECTED ISSUE
Sports Management
16 May 2016 issue 120

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Sport And ID

Conference Report

Sport And ID


Sport is as much about identity as it is winning and losing. Swansea University celebrated the relationship between cultural identity and sport at a recent conference. Terry Stevens reports

Professor Terry Stevens, Stevens & Associates
More than 300 people gathered at Swansea University for the recent Gwlad, Gwlad conference
Wales football coach Chris Coleman (left) gave a talk about how to engage with a nation. Seen here with Swansea’s Prof Marc Clement and Dr Terry Stevens (right)
Purchasing team kit creates a year-round connection nick potts / EMPICS Sport
The All Blacks’ haka is one of the most recognisable and powerful demonstrations of identity in sport david davis / press association images

In April, the School of Management at Swansea University organised and hosted a unique gathering of more than 300 people for its Gwlad, Gwlad: Sport, More than a Game conference. Coaches and players, globally recognised architects, administrators, community interests and – of course fans – came together to consider the relationship between sport and identity and its many different dimensions.

The conference was chaired by Professor Laura McAllister, former chair of Sport Wales, with support from Keith Wood, the former Irish Rugby captain and founder of W2 Consulting.

Swansea – Centre for Excellence
Swansea University has strong foundations on which to base the theme of this conference. Within the school, Professor Peter J Sloane is regarded as one of the founders of the economics of sport in Europe, while The European Institute of Identities is forging new international relationships to examine the business and cultural aspects of this theme.

In 2007, the (then) First Minister of Wales, Rhodri Morgan, wrote that “In all societies, sport started as a practice for hunting and then a practice for war, or later as a substitute for war. In Wales… a special kind of need for (sporting) heroes exists that could reassure us of our existence as a country. Indeed, our national anthem makes the strange transition from its words of praise for the loss of blood of slain heroes on the battlefield into encouragement of heroic effort on the sports field.”

A subject with wide appeal
Sport and identity is a topic of considerable and increasing importance in the context of global branding of destinations and the economic success of sports clubs and facilities. It also has a wide appeal.

Almost everyone on the planet has engaged in sport at one time or another. Whether it be competing in an Olympic final or kicking a ball around the park with childhood friends.

Similarly, we all have identities – some observable, such as male or female, black or white – others often more difficult to identify – be they Welsh or Italian, atheist or Hindu, monolingual or multilingual.

During the event, the implications and opportunities of developing local relationships and the challenges associated with sport development in a diverse, multi-cultural society were examined by Colin Reagan, health and community manager of the Gaelic Athletics Association, Hala Ousta, the diversity and inclusivity officer for the Scottish Football Association and Harry Connolly of Visit West Belfast.

They gave us insight into the marked difference between the New Zealand Maori who played rugby for the All Blacks, the Irish jockey who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and the Coxless Crew who spent 257 days at sea to raise money for various charities.

Delegates listened intently to Willie Cameron, of Loch Ness Marketing, who explained the heritage of shinty and the Highland Games, while Enda Lynch, the commercial and marketing manager of Munster RFC, discussed how Munster as a provincial rugby club has developed as a new brand over the past 10 years.

Jordi Penas I Babot, director of the Museum at FC Barcelona, illustrated the depth to which Barca embraces its Catalan heritage and community.

Each case study demonstrated the interplay between sport, identities and location. It’s this interweaving that makes sport and identity such an interesting subject for discussion.

Reinforcing our identity
But why are identities important when it comes to sport? We reinforce our identities when, for instance, we purchase our favourite team’s new kit when it’s released in the summer, or when we renew our season ticket. So the reinforcement becomes a year-round, ongoing process and part of our lives.

Deep connections
This deep connection between community and sports club is well illustrated with the involvement of the Swans Trust – a fan-based group that was instrumental in saving Swansea City FC from relegation from the Football League and financial oblivion, and that now owns 21.1 per cent of the shares of the Premier League club.

The Trust’s chair Phil Sumbler and board member Alan Lewis told their story in discussion with broadcaster Mal Pope, producer of the award-winning film about the saving of Swansea City – From a Jack to a King, and city councillor Robert Francis Davies.

Personal challenges
So our personal association with these identities is important, but do we ever question them? University of Bedfordshire professor Garry Whannel believes so, and he noted how the film Bend it Like Beckham challenged us to think about our identities. He suggested it held up a mirror and said to us “who are you, and what part do you play in this?” The film itself works on so many different levels and genres. It encompasses the diversity and struggles within sport, and reflects place and community settings. Although fiction, the film is essentially a social documentary. It allows for our dreams to intermingle with the harsh reality of events and actions that quite often burst our bubble – a typical day’s emotions many may feel.

The stadiums and arenas in which these emotions are played out are often referred to as ‘cathedrals’ of sport. These venues need to reflect the interests, ambitions and aspirations of the fans, the clubs and the hosts. Geraint John of Populous explored the design response to this increasingly important brief.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the event for many was the session with Wales national football coach, Chris Coleman, who received a warm welcome back to his home city prior to embarking on the Euro 2016 adventure with his Welsh team. Coleman gave a masterclass on leadership and the importance of the hugely successful, highly emotional national engagement strategy – Together, Stronger - which was masterminded by the Football Association of Wales and their head of communications, Ian Gwyn Hughes.

Conclusions
Gwlad, Gwlad, is a segment from the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, in which singers professes faithfulness to their country. This allegiance, in public form, is fundamental to the notion of national representation – identity at its pinnacle, one could argue. Equally, on a local scale, we witness participants and fans showing support for village, town, city or regional teams. Thus, we can trace a multi-layered effect.

With that as a backdrop, some key questions emerged about the social, cultural, political and economic conditions in which each and every one of us find ourselves as sports activists and practitioners: how can we nurture and maintain sporting and community relationships that bind us closer together? Is it possible for us to replace traditional vertical structures which comprise directors, managers and fans, with horizontal set-ups base around things like cooperative ownership of clubs and facilities and grassroots governance?

If this were to occur, would this affect the identities of our sports clubs and institutions? What attracts us to certain sports or teams? Is it peer loyalty, location or family? Are our loyalties substantial and deep-rooted, or are they thin, meaning we transfer our affiliations from time to time? Do a team’s colours or facilities attract us? In this sense, how much importance do we put on marketing and branding?

Gwlad, Gwlad offered a platform for networking and discussions around all these topics. We all learned more about our favourite sport, discovered interesting facts, and heard forthright views on lesser-known sports.

So, Gwlad, Gwlad brought together sportsmen and women with managers, administrators, academics and fans. The gathering explored and discussed the relationship between sport, sports teams and the ‘fields of dreams’ stadiums that accommodate these teams with the identities, branding and positioning of their host cities, regions and nations.

It recognised that sport amounts to nothing unless there is the full participation and commitment of the fans – the bill payers, lest we forget.


Key conference takeaways
1. The key is to engage with the community and the fan at every level

2. Inspiring people to take an interest in their health and wellbeing is a really positive outcome of links with sports teams and clubs

3. Sports clubs are more than brands – they reflect a community’s aspirations and ambitions, hopes and fortunes. Irrespective of success on the field of play they are the vehicles for community collaboration

4. Success on the field is ONLY translated into positive emotions for community identity if there is a clear rallying point that captures the public’s imagination – the FAW Together, Stronger campaign did just that and Leicester City’s galvanizing of the interest of the world was as much about the narrative and story as it was about the winning

5. Narrative and answering the question ‘Why?’ is the key to successful relationships between sport and positive community identity.Terry Stevens


Originally published in Sports Management 16 May 2016 issue 120

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd