Understand the “Black Box” of a Sports-Based Intervention Program: The Strength of Social Ties

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Nicolas MOREAU, University of Ottawa, Canada
Although there exists many sports-based intervention programs for youth, little is known about the underlying processes of these types of programs, i.e what we call the “Black Box” of a sport program. Furthermore, the perspectives of youth are seldom taken into account even if the intervention program is designed “for them”. The data presented in this conference is the result of a long-term action research with a Montreal organization using sport in a psychosocial perspective. More specifically, our objective was to understand, from the youth perspective, the processes and key dimensions of sports-based interventions that contribute to the development of youth social bonds. In our perspective, such bonds are essential to reduce stigmatisation, discrimination and inequities. Methodologically, we conducted 27 interviews with youths, a focus group with five coaches and “observant participation” of trainings and challenges. We found that six elements are essential for this sports-based intervention program : (1) Implementation of a supportive climate; (2) Implementation of collaborative strategies that promote group cooperation; (3) Equilibrium between outside rules and self-initiated actions; (4) Collectivisation of individual performances; (5) Interconnectedness of effort and pleasure; and (6) Exploring beyond the participants’ comfort zones. We conclude that these six conditions can positively transform social bonds between youth as well as between youth and coaches. Indeed, sport can be a tool for social transformation (reduction of social inequalities, empowerment, strengthening social bonds, etc.) but this has to be done through reflexive practices.