Alexis Lyras argues that we shouldn't assertively claim space, but rather continue building on foundations that will lead to increased credibility for S&D.
A vision for the future
I do not believe our vision should be to “claim space.” Instead, our efforts should focus on earning respect and recognition through scholarship, partnerships and changes within our spheres of influence. Along this journey we should try to build a future filled with introspection, successful stories and contributions to the following goals and vision:
A strong foundation
These foundations would give our emerging field the credibility, body of knowledge and resources for establishing structures and governance practices that would potentially lead to the professionalisation of our field.
As practitioners and academics of this field, we should roll our sleeves up and produce work that helps us to get closer to this global vision. With this in mind, I believe that academic institutions have started to play an instrumental role in this process but there is still a long way to go. For example, the previous generation of the sport management and sport sciences scholars and practitioners were trained to focus on answering questions related to consumer behavior, tickets sales, branding, marketing, sponsorship, management, and community sport.
While we have seen some progress from a number of traditional sport-oriented academic institutions that have “claimed” space, expertise and credit in service of the S&D global vision, existing practices and priorities need to be re-evaluated and reformed. This transformation cannot happen overnight; it requires a commitment to changes that would embrace peacebuilding, development and educational objectives.
Practicing what you preach
Following the logic of the axiom that universities serve as institutions that produce knowledge and innovation, the post-2015 era depends on the changes we will see within the academic world. We therefore need to see changes that will improve quality and standards of related scholarship, service and community outreach.
While we navigate our path along this journey, the new S&D academicians need to start practicing what they preach by reaching out to local and global communities and leading by example with their unique contributions to their immediate surroundings and spheres of influence. At the same time, each one of us needs to create a distinctively clear line of expertise, theoretical and applied, that will be respected and recognised by established non-sport conflict resolution and international development scholars and practitioners.
In this journey, universities and practitioners will have to create the conditions and real life examples of transforming existing “Sport…cheer”(leading) institutions into “Change leading” agencies where the “score” is kept on scholarship and programmes produced in service of improving human condition.
The problem with claiming space
Claimed space in the absence of these principles is akin to building a castle on the sand. This is something we should try to avoid. Creating structures and spaces that assertively “claim” space, runs the risk of establishing a culture where the S&D community is imposing “what is good” onto others. It is unhelpful to point to a perceived “right direction,” that is defined by self-centered personal promotion, or institutional ambition and objectives, instead of focusing on what is proven and established.
In my opinion, our vision should be based on establishing evidence and scholarship; it should respect local sensitivities; and it should promote changes that will grow naturally within agents, agencies and institutions.
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