Human Rights in Youth Sport: A Critical Review of Children's Rights in Competitive Sports

Human Rights in Youth Sport: A Critical Review of Children's Rights in Competitive Sports

Human Rights in Youth Sport: A Critical Review of Children's Rights in Competitive Sports

Human Rights in Youth Sport: A Critical Review of Children's Rights in Competitive Sports

Synopsis

Does competitive sport respect children's human rights? Is intensive training child labour? Is competitive stress a form of child abuse? The human rights of children have been recognized in the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and ratified by 192 countries. Paulo David's work makes it clear, however, that too often competitive sport fails to recognize the value of respect for international child rights norms and standards. Human Rights in Youth Sport offers critical analysis of some very real problems within youth sport and argues that the future development of sport depends on the creation of a child-centred sport system. Areas of particular concern include issues of: ¿ Over-training ¿ Physical, emotional and sexual abuse ¿ Doping and medical ethics ¿ Education ¿ Child labour ¿ Accountability of governments, sports federations, coaches and parents The text should be essential reading for anybody with an interest in the ethics of sport, youth sport, coaching and sports development.

Excerpt

Since its adoption in 1989, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has made an enormous impact on how the world thinks about the well-being of children. The Convention is the most widely accepted international human rights instrument, ratified by 192 countries. It has helped shape the policies and views of almost every part of society, from schools to social agencies, from labour unions to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), from private corporations to professional groups and cultural associations.

But as Paulo David's work makes clear, one of the few areas that has yet to recognize the value of respect for international child rights norms and standards is competitive sports. This book represents a significant step in deepening our understanding of the links between competitive sport and its implications on the rights of young athletes.

It contains numerous examples of the abuse that some children and adolescents, in particular, experience in the name of sport. Abuse such as that suffered by footballer Luciano Djim, who was 'traded' like a commodity between his home in the Central African Republic and Belgium. Djim - and so many others like him - was brought to Europe illegally, lured by false promises of a career with a professional football club. He ended up abandoned on streets that were not paved with gold.

Human rights can play a crucial role in preventing and combating unacceptable sport-related abuses. Those who are committed to advancing this cause must do more to convince those in positions of authority that human rights are more than just good ideas or abstract objectives. States have freely accepted legal obligations under international human rights law and have agreed to be held accountable for their implementation.

The specific status of children requires us to be even more vigilant. Competitive sports can fail children and be the cause of child abuse, exploitation, violence or other violations of rights. Paulo David's book reminds us that if we hope to see human rights norms realized in the lives of all people everywhere, we must begin by recognizing the potential for abuses close to home, even in an organized activity such as competitive sports.

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson was President of Ireland (1990-7) and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002). She is currently Executive Director of the Ethical Globalization Initiative.

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