The role of university sports federations in enhancing student sports : a comparative case study between Portugal and Finland
The European Union has increasingly emphasized the sociological, physiological and psychological benefits of sport. Sport provision and participation trends have been measured throughout the member-states and, the gaps between Northern and Southern countries are widely acknowledged. These gaps are especially wide between young-adults and the elderly. The integration of sports into the education curriculum in most European pedagogic systems has resulted in high levels of sport practice among the youth. However as young people enter higher education, member-states face a problem with a natural withdrawal in participation. The universities and student sports federations can plan an important role in reversing this phenomenon. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the role of university sports federations. This thesis describes and discusses what potential the Finnish and Portuguese student sport federation have to influence sport participation among the academic community in Portugal and Finland - two countries on the opposite ends of the spectrum. This study is based upon the EUROBAROMETER data. Using the sociological theory of distinction and briefly, of functionalism, as framework, it seeks to identify core factors for disparities between European regions in sport participation among young-adults. The data for this study was obtained primarily through secondary data analysis, but also using qualitative, empirical, thematic content analysis. This was supported by open-ended interviews with members of both OLL (2) and FADU (1). Via SWOT analysis was possible to identify crucial organizational and socio-economic aspects that distinguish the sport panorama in Finland and Portugal. In terms of results FADU and OLL have currently distinct policies and objectives, the macroeconomic, socio-cultural conditions for sport practice and organizational dynamics in Finland and consequently for OLL provide steadier conditions to influence and sustain a key role in student sport participation than in Portugal.
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