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Reviewed by:
  • Examining Sports Development
  • Ruth Jeanes
Collins, Mike , ED. Examining Sports Development. London: Routledge, 2010. Pp. 237. $45.00.

Examining Sports Development provides a comprehensive overview of U.K. sport development policy and practice over the last decade. The text presents an accessible account of the complexities of sports development work in practice and is one of the few available books that detail how sports development is delivered and the challenges with this process. It is a valuable book for both students studying sports development and practitioners within a U.K. context seeking to critically appraise the work they are undertaking. The practical relevance of the book has been greatly enhanced by the inclusion of several chapters written by "in the field" practitioners who have been able to provide personal reflective accounts of their experiences skilfully interwoven with existing theory and academic knowledge from the sports development area. For sports historians many of the chapters provide informative accounts of the historical routes of contemporary sports development policy and detail more generally how the sports development movement has evolved over the previous three decades. It is particularly interesting for the reader to appreciate how many of the contemporary policies driving sports development are reincarnations of previous policies, initiatives, and practice that have been repackaged and rebranded.

Chapter 2 written by Collins provides an engaging and accessible historical account of sports development. The author's involvement in much of the policy development in the late 1970s and early 1980s assists with providing detail not readily available in this area. The remainder of the book consists of a range of case studies, all exploring different aspects of sports development. The text has been edited well with chapters linking effectively and key themes developed. Chapters 3 (Enoch) and 5 (Charlton) consider the development of County Sport Partnerships in the U.K. and considers these in the context of [End Page 451] their predecessor the Active Sports program, a major youth sport policy initiative of the late 1990s. Other chapters examine sports development from a Scottish perspective (Chapter 7, Thompson) the role higher education can play in sports development (Chapter 6, Thorpe and Collins) and the development of education policy through sport (Chapter 7, Lindeman and Conway). The second half of the book provides an analysis of a range of sports development initiatives and considers the challenges of both implementing these and also assessing whether they are effective. These include an examination of both grassroots coaching and club development initiatives (Chapter 8, Bell and Chapter 9, Collins and Sparkes). Bell's chapter is an interesting one as the initiative she examines, Champion Coaching, was disbanded and absorbed into other policies in the late 1990s. This has provided an opportunity to examine its legacy and to illustrate that whilst sports development initiatives generally may be short lived their impact can be sustained. The chapters focusing on community development (Chapter 10, Walpole and Collins) and the use of sport to address social problems amongst young people (Chapter 11, McCormack) are particularly useful. These provide a detailed discussion of the complexities of each area of work but also provide an assessment of the necessary conditions to achieve impact. As the authors discuss, this at times requires challenging the fundamental principles underpinning sports development and drawing more on community development theory. The last two chapter consider sports development in the context of physical activity promotion with Almond (Chapter 12) providing an overview before Bolton (Chapter 13) analyzes a specific initiative, the free swimming program in Wales. The text is neatly pulled together in the final section with Pitchford and Collins' assessment of the sports development profession and its requirements for training and development; Collins builds on this in the final conclusion by providing an assessment of how the field will develop in the future and outlines some of the challenges that may be faced.

Overall the book is interesting and informative and provides a much needed text to support the teaching of sports development in universities in the U.K. The chapters at times are descriptive, but this is necessary due to the lack of academic analysis in this area and particularly as a student text is vital...


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pp. 451-452
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