Vol.1, No 4, 1997 pp. 61 - 63
CHANGESE IN MODERN SOCIETIES -
CONSEQUENCES FOR PE AND SCHOOL SPORT
DR. BART CRUM (Netherlands)
keynote paper presented at the International Congress of the ASEP in
Neuchatel, Switzerland, 20th - 24th May, 1998
In F.I.E.P. Bulletin summer /autumn, 1998, Dr. Bart Crum has published
his article under the litle "Changes in modern societies - consequences
for PE and school sport". The main issues in this paper are the cultural
changes that can be observed in modern, affluent societies and the implications
of these changes for compulsory movement lessons (PE) and optional school
sport at the secondary school level. From the very beginning it seems important
to emphasize one caveat. Focusing on general cultural changes in modern
societies and in particular on changes in body - and movement culture and
looking for consequences for schooling, we are faced with sweeping cross-cultural
The realization of quality in PE is increasingly endangered by changes
that occur in the interests, attitudes and behaviours of many secondary
school students. In order to describe and to interpret these changes, I
firstly pay attention to 'postmodernity', 'individualization' and
'the rediscovery of the body'.
Together, the shift towards postmaterialist values, the craving for
self-realization, the trend to individualization and the rediscovery of
the body have led to a process that can be labelled as 'the sportification
of the society' (cp. Cachay, 1990, Crum, 1992, Digel 1990; Grupe, 1998).
The emergence of the 'sport for all' idea invited or seduced the traditional
sport system to extend its own borders in order to play along with new
needs and and expectations and to fulfill a range of new functions.
The sportification of the society has resulted in a striking process
of internal differentiation of sport. This differentiation process is characterized
by two opposite developments: on the one hand, the 'sportifiacation' of
sport and, on the other hand, the 'de-sportification' of sport.
In conclusion: under influence of the 'sportification of the society'
and the 'de-sportification' of the traditional sport, the once relative
homogeneous sport system has defferentiated into a rather heterogeneous
movement culture. Movement-cultural sub-systems have developed beside each
other as defferent shops with defferent assortments and different internal
rules for different groups of clients, who have different needs and expectations.
For the time being, the following heuristic classification of sportive
sub-systems, each of them part of a defferent social convention, could
be useful (Crum, 1992):
1) Elite sport - the dominant motives are: absolute achievement, status,
money. This sport mode is often commercialized and requires (semi)professional
2) Competitive club sport - here the dominant motive is a cocktail
of the excitement of competition, pursuit of subjective achievement, relaxation
and social contact.
3) Recreation sport - dominant motives are: relaxation, health and
togetherness. Recreation sport is offered by sport clubs as well as by
local authorities; often it is privately arranged.
4) Fitness sport - the dominant and often isolated motive is physical
fitness. This mode is mostly offered by commercial agencies and also privately
staged (e.g. jogging).
5) Risk and adventure sport - adventure and thrill are the dominant
motives. Think of the mostly commercially organized, expensive activities
such as Himalayan trekking, helicopter skiing, hang-gliding, scuba diving,
rafting and parachuting.
6) Lust sport - hedonism, here exclusive pleasure is the focus. Think
of the commercially organized (often in combination with tourism) forms
of so called S-sport (sun, sea, sand, snow, ses, speed and satisfaction).
7) Cosmetic sport - the focus is on the model-appearance. Think of
the commercially organized narcism of body-building, -styling and -shaping,
with a 'warming up' or a 'cooling down' on the sunbed.
In the part of his issue in titled as "Crisis in secondary school
physical education" Mr. Crum describes the problems in PE teaching and
gives his opinion to solve them.
In their daily work at school, PE teachers are increasingly confonted
with youngsters who are children of the 'excitement society' and have been
exposed to individualization and mediazation. They have more freedom and
also considerably more options for chioce and consumption than earlier
generations. Alas, often they do not know gow to make choices and they
have also problems with bonds and commitments. They view form and design
as more important than function, and presentation as more valuable than
achievement. Disengagement and fleetingness seem to be their hallmark.
Is it any wonder then that a growing part of these youngsters can hardly
be motivated for school PE, that they think that the exercises (or better,
the 'tomfoolery') in the gym, on the school field or the track are just
boring and useless? It might be painful to admit, but if we dare to be
honest and ready to remove our professional blinkers, then we can only
conclude that it is no wonder at all! No wonder, but definitely a problem.
A serious problem, because one of the consequences is that a growing number
of youngsters can not find a way in the complexity of the movement culture
or runs the risk of getting on the wrong tracks.
Mr. Crum thinks that sport pedagogy should face this problem. Sport
pedagogy is firstly obliged to set pedagogical criteria for an evaluation
of present trends in movement culture and then to develop didactic filters
in order to draw consequences for the PE curriculum.
His first consideration focuses on pedagogical-ethical aspects of the
problem. Some postmodern scholars - however, not only scholars - have developed
an attitude in which relativism, irony and cynicism are important ingredients.
The adagium is then: long life to normative relativism, 'everything goes'.
Such an attitude gives the mental 'flexibility to cope with social pluralism
and relativism, with a lack of orientation, with 'the end of history" (Fukuyama)
and with the misery that we daily get dished up by the media. It is his
firm belief, however, that pedagogues cannot allow themselves such an attitude.
If they do so, they commit an intellectual treason and become accessories
to the lack of orientation of the growing generation.
For that reason he proposes that sport pedagogues should feel responsible
for an introduction into movement culture under control of the following
a) respect for the subjectivity of the individual (keyword: emancipation),
b) respect for the fellow human (keyword: solidarity) and
c) respect for the natural enviroment.
Consequently sport pedagogy should review and evaluate also the alternative
sport modes in the light of these values. Then, for example, it could become
- the instrumentalization of the body-machine, which takes often place
in the setting of fitness sport, violates the integrity of subjective embodiment,
- the narcissistic obsession with mesomorphy in the cosmetic sport
reflects a "macho" ideology,
- the hedonism in the lust sport runs the risk of going for one's own
fun and satisfaction at the cost of others,
- many forms of risk and adventure sport imply severe ecological damage,
- compared to other sport agencies, the sport club has a relative high
potential for offering youngsters a clear and durable sturcture for healthy
experiences and the possibiltiy to develop a personal identity in the domain
of embodiment and movement (cf. Crum, 1996).
His second consideration concerns the question, how (in which way)
modern movement cultural forms should be represented in the PE curriculum
for the upper grades of the secondary school. How should these modern forms
be transformed didactically? Since every didactic transformation should
be chosen the light of the teaching objectives, it is worthwhile to return
to the objective-question. Earlier inthis paper he sets the following objective:
"to qualify youngsters for an emancipated, satisfying and lasting participation
in movement culture". Taking into consideration that movement culture
is itself continuously in change, and moreover, that because of the process
of aging, the meaning of sport for an individual is changing with time
so that his/her sport participation will be differently staged throughout
life, it becomes obvious that "qualification for an emancipated, satisfying
and lasting participation" implies at least the following two aspects.
Firstly, a basic compentncy to solve techno-motor and socio-motor problems
(if you want you can call this 'skills' is required for such a participation,
but secondly, also a thorough understanding of the social making of the
Of all that could be done, how nice it would be if a substantial part
could be realized. Then PE will certainly survive in the schools of the