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Pan-European Conference "Sport and Prison"

16-17 June 2014


French National Olympic and Sports Committee

Maison du sport Français
1 avenue de Pierre de Coubertin
75640 Paris cedex 13



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Sports & Detention

Sports & Detention

from the perspective of the organized sports sector

in Spain, France, the UK, Romania, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgiu

Prisoners on the Move, a 2010 Preparatory Action in the field of sports of the EU-Commission

(The content of this report reflects the view of the author of this EU-project only, the hereby mentioned institutions and/or people cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained herein.)

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977

Exercise and sport

Art 21. (1)

Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits.

Art 21. (2)

Young prisoners, and others of suitable age and physique, shall receive physical and recreational training during the period of exercise. To this end space, installations and equipment should be provided.


"Globalization" is a fairly recent historical term only showing up in the encyclopedia in the second half of the 20th century. (1) (2) (3) One of the commonly accepted definitions of globalization is: "Globalization in its literal sense is the process of transformation of local phenomena into global ones. It can be described as a process by which the people of the world are unified in a single society and function together. This process is a combination of economic, technological, socio-cultural and political forces. " (4) In its summarized version, one could describe the phenomenon as “The ‘process’ whereby the world becomes one village.” (5)

“Europeanization” is not equal to globalization, but Europe has also seen over the past decades a variety of ‘processes’ of integration. In an etymological sense, ‘integration’ is clearly different to ‘standardization’.

Referring to the common statement ‘the world becomes a village’, it is clear that people living in a village do have something in common, but are not the same. Indeed there are many variances between people in a village when it comes to gender, age, religion, political beliefs, professions, cultural interests and so many more ways of living. Moreover, it is unwishful that within a village one would strive to all become the same type of persons with the same way of living. On the contrary, differences form an integral part and are required for a village to exist.

In “Olympism for the 21st Century”, Prof J. Parry states “The general problem is how we are to operate at a global (universal) level whilst there exist such apparently intractable differences at the particular level. {…} sport seeks to be universal in its values: mutual recognition and respect, tolerance, solidarity, equity, anti-discrimination, peace, multiculturalism, etc. This is a quite specific set of values, which are at once a set of universal general principles; but which also require different interpretations in different cultures - stated in general terms; interpreted in the particular.”

This brings us to the triple pre-dominant values fundamental to amongst others the EU-Commission Unit Sport: autonomy, self-regulation ands subsidarity. This is also what the research of the implication of the sports organized sector in the ‘Preparatory Action in the Field of Sports’ on ‘Sports in Detention’ is all about. Learning from each other, understanding oneself through each other, cross-pollinating, cross-fertilization, joint initiatives and network elaboration. I.e. speaking on the same topic in general, allowing the different meanings to be brought forward in particular. So, that the particularization leads to universalism and the universilization leads to particularism. (5)

Inclusion, the framework under which our Preparatory Action resorts hereby is the key-term. It makes clear that the integrity of the particularity is respected whilst at the same time diminishing the barriers is aimed at.

This search for a universal representation at the interpersonal and social level of the people in detention is reflected in the specific research presented hereunder.

The underneath analysis of the approach of the organized sports sector for people in detention is hence not a comparative research but an analysis in the regional/national particularity, actually embedded in their typical socio-cultural environment, at stake.

This research is intended to give a better understand how the organized sports sector works with sport in one’s own region/country as well as in the other regions/countries. It may also offer the opportunity for further proper development, cross-pollination, cross-fertilization, setting up joint initiatives or long-lasting networking.

Quoting Prof Dr J. Scheerder “In order to develop effective policy making and to set realistic targets, at the European as well as at the (sub)national level, it is necessary to gain a thorough understanding of sport participation rates, trends and differences. Yet, {…}, the information currently available does not suffice. The present report is meant to contribute to the gathering of knowledge in this field, allowing for evidence-based policy making.” (7)

(1) Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française (2) Wikipedia (4) Encyclopaedia Britannica (4) Croucher, S.L. (2004). Globalization and Belonging: The Politics of Identity in a Changing World. p.10. Rowman & Littlefield.
(5) Robertson, R. (1992). Globalization: social theory and global culture. Sage, London.
(6) Parry, J. (2003). Olympism for the 21st Century
(7) Scheerder, J. et al. (2011). Understanding the Game. Sport participation in Europe. In: Sport Policy & Management (10). Leuven, KULeuven


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