Eli A. Wolff and Mary A. Hums
Power of Sport Lab and University of Louisville

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30/10/2016 par Eli A. Wolff and Mary A. Hums

The Purpose of Sport and Play

What is the true purpose of sport and play? What constitutes the essential core of these activities? How do sport and play serve humanity and societies around the world?  We believe there are five dimensions to the purpose of sport and play – relationships, education, social change, health and joy. In analyzing and studying the purpose of sport, we believe these five dimensions can help us better articulate the power and contributions of sport and play in the world. 
In and through sport and play we connect and build relationships with our peers and make lasting friendships. We meet people and create community through sport and play whether at a playground, in a community sports club or with a national team or professional team. Sport brings people together and facilitates relationship building both on and off the field. Relationships in sport take different forms – teammates, fans, and yes, even rivals. All these are possible because of the inclusive nature of sport and play
Sport and play present limitless education and learning opportunities. Sport encourages ongoing education in skill and personal development. Athletes who learn how to perform better also learn how to be better teammates. They work to get the most out of their experience. Coaches and sport administrators constantly learn, grow and engage in educational processes with athletes and peers.  Through self-reflection sport administrators strive to grow their teams and organizations. In sport and play we see a clear purpose and role for education and the learning process for all stakeholders. 
Sport and play promotes social change by utilizing sport as a platform to advance social change. Sport and play create equal access and equal opportunity for all, and help eliminate discrimination, violence and abuse. Further, sport and play leverage a platform to advance social change in the areas of civil rights, human rights, peacebuilding and world affairs. Critical and central to the purpose of sport and play, the social change dimension must be celebrated and embraced in the global sporting arena rather than dismissed as anecdotal sidebars to the role and purpose of sport and play. 
What does it mean to be healthy and how to do we measure health? A sedentary lifestyle is far from a healthy lifestyle. Sport and play contribute to health by generating physical and mental energy that can be transformed into action, creativity, and innovation. Healthy people are able to contribute to improving society by bringing that energy to their families, schools or workplaces. The positive impact of the gift of good health cannot be overstated and sport and play help nurture a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Have you ever looked at the face of a child running through a field, kicking a soccer ball into a net, or dancing with a friend? Nothing elicits pure joy quite like moving our bodies during sport and play. No need for rules, no need for time-clocks, just the chance to move freely to the best of our ability. No matter our age, no matter the country in which we live, no matter our physical abilities, sport and play allows us to express ourselves through simple movement. Sport and play can improve the human condition when people experience the simple joy of movement.
Relationships, Education, Social Change, Health, Joy. While other aspects of society may address one or two of these, sport and play have the capability to facilitate all of them. From youth leagues to Bundesliga, from playground games to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and from weekend walkers to year-round professionals, sport and play are integral in improving our human condition. If you don’t believe us, simply ask a child who just came home from enjoying a day at the playground with his or her friends.
We would welcome hearing from you – what would be your choices for the dimensions of the purpose of sport and play? Contact us via Twitter at @eliwolff10 and @mahums  

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