Social Justice and Equality in Sports

Sports can unite, motivate and help us to overcome even the biggest cracks that separate cultures and people. However, there's still a long way to true equality in sports.
Social Justice and Equality in Sports

Last update: 27 January, 2020

These days it’s impossible to ignore the growing need for equality in sports, and society in general. Despite the differences that separate the many political parties and movements, peace and social justice are on everyone’s agenda.

It’s more than just a personal opinion; discrimination has had terrible consequences for humanity throughout history. But, despite the many lessons, prejudice still surfaces in many different areas in today’s society. It even slips by unnoticed in seemingly harmless jokes or traditions.

Equality in sports is crucial for social justice

When it comes to spreading awareness and creating more equal opportunities, it’s hard to find a more powerful tool than sports.

Regardless of where someone may come from, sports will always extend opportunities to make dreams come true. How many children have been able to leave a vulnerable background and reach their goals thanks to playing a sport? So many.

Rooted in sports

We’re not just talking about professional athletes; we’re also referring to young participants who find the motivation they need in their local sports club. Many children find the opportunity to pull their families out of poverty by playing soccer or other disciplines. Through sports, they can finally give their parents and brothers dignity and hope.

In a world where inequality is so evident, sports have always served as a fountain of opportunities. But not surprisingly, sports can only take a person so far if there’s a lack of public policies or real incentives that allow everyone to actually play or participate.

Thus, promoting equality in sports is a critical action for guaranteeing human rights and fighting against social inequalities. In addition, incorporating physical education in educational systems is also essential.

The social functions of sports in the European Union

The Treaty of Lisbon represents a milestone in sports regulation in the European Union. The Treaty, which was the first of its kind, had a special focus on sports. It clearly emphasized the social function that practicing sports have for society.

equality Lisbon treaty

In the first lines, the Treaty states that the Union needs to assume the responsibility of:

“[contributing] to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of the specific nature of sport, its structures based on voluntary activity an its social and educational function.”

Thus, the Treaty defines a special perspective on sports and the influences they can have on both individuals and communities. In addition, the Treaty also highlights the following social and educational responsibilities:

  • Fighting against any type of discrimination, intolerance, and violence while promoting equality in sports and society in general.
  • Creating equal opportunities that help eliminate the socioeconomic inequalities of society.
  • Encourage citizens to adopt a more active, higher quality lifestyle by fighting sedentary habits, overweight problems, and associated illnesses.
  • Fighting for more physical education in the educational systems for children and adolescents to help their physical and cognitive development in addition to instilling a healthy lifestyle.
  • Promoting volunteer and inclusive activities.

Equality in sports: female athletes

In Spain, the main legislative text regarding sporting issues lies in Sports Law (1990). Despite having made important contributions to sports at the time, today it’s outdated and lags behind more recent social changes.

equality female

One of the more important pending agendas deals with gender equality in sports. And that’s precisely one of the main reasons why the new Sports Law draft was approved at the beginning of 2019.

The new Sports Law, which will replace the law of 1990, reinforces the state’s role in the creation of public policies that promote equality in sports. The main aim is to guarantee an equal distribution of opportunities and salaries to male and female athletes.

In addition, the new law will give female athletes the same maternal rights that Spanish women already enjoy. Not to mention, the new law will also force sports federations to appoint women within at least 40 percent of their executive board positions.

Wrapping up, there’s still a long way to go. But, these legal changes are playing a critical role in permitting and making sure that all citizens have the right to play the sports that motivate them.

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