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The Impact of Sports on Sustainable Development: A Critical Analysis


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Olalla García TaiboUniversidad Pontificia Comillas
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José Eugenio Rodríguez FernándezUniversidade de Santiago de Compostela
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Salvador Baena-MoralesUniversidad de Alicante


The objective of this critical literature analysis is to examine the scientific evidence regarding the impact of sports on the social dimension of sustainable development.

Our planet is finite, and the resources it provides us with are not infinite, so it is necessary that we use them sustainably. Within the framework of the COP26 Climate Pact in Glasgow, there is unanimous recognition of the global concern surrounding climate change as a shared challenge for humanity. In a recent session of the United Nations General Assembly, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was reaffirmed, presenting a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) characterized by their interdependence and indivisibility, spanning economic, social, and environmental dimensions. Achieving this requires a profound restructuring of our thinking to become aware of the importance of acting in a timely manner, with the primary transformation needing to occur within individuals so that they themselves become agents of change.

It has been observed that sporting achievements have a significant impact on social cohesion and the perception of national identity. Additionally, sports have helped alleviate regional tensions, promoting a sense of unity and cohesion throughout the country. On the other hand, there is a broad consensus in the literature that sports and exercise provide preventive and therapeutic benefits for both adults and children. They can contribute to preventing chronic diseases, including premature mortality, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, obesity, certain types of cancer, strokes, and osteoporosis, while also reducing the risk of premature death. Several studies demonstrate that participation in sports helps bring together individuals from different backgrounds and can foster mutual understanding, change attitudes, and overcome social barriers. However, the evidence for deeper and more lasting changes in terms of social inclusion and community cohesion is generally more limited, especially in relation to ethnicity, where some barriers pose significant challenges and are difficult to overcome. The preponderance of evidence supports a positive relationship between sports and exercise and intermediate and final educational outcomes. Intermediate outcomes are the factors leading to final outcomes and include, for example, cognitive skills, social skills, attendance/absenteeism, which are intermediate steps toward final outcomes such as educational achievement and progress towards further or higher education.

In conclusion, it has been observed that sports influence the sense of social identity, improve physical and mental health, enhance social capital, and have a positive impact on education, all of which contribute positively to sustainable development.

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Hay 04 comentarios en esta ponencia

    • Comentó el 29/09/2023 a las 23:20:17

      Interesting topic, I would love to hear more about future research opportunities in terms of sports impact on social identity, mental health, and education, specially on a national and regional level

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        Salvador Boned Gomez

        Comentó el 30/09/2023 a las 10:11:45

        Thanks for your comment Kelly,
        We are currently working on it but we have not limited it to the national level only. But it would be interesting for future research.
        Best regards

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      Víctor Jiménez Díaz-Benito

      Comentó el 29/09/2023 a las 10:49:15

      Muchas gracias por esta interesante y enriquecedora ponencia. Claramente el sistema deportivo posee diferentes modelos independientes estructuralmente, pero dependientes en el sentido funcional. Por ejemplo, la influencia del deporte espectáculo es abrumadora sobre el deporte para todos. Por favor, ¿han pensado en diseñar una herramienta que permita medir esa influencia?

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        Salvador Boned Gomez

        Comentó el 30/09/2023 a las 10:07:13

        Gracias Víctor por tu comentario. Ciertamente el deporte espectáculo es un elemento con una gran influencia en la sociedad, pero lo cierto es que aún no habíamos valorado esta opción, pero si que puede ser interesante analizarla en un futuro.
        Un cordial saludo.

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