IOAs Post-Graduate session 2003

Education through Sport

Moral and physical education through sport is the basis for the Olympism spread and inspired by the founder of the Olympic Movement Mr. Pierre de Coubertin. He was fascinated and spellbound of what he witnessed on several visits to England in the late 19th century. Following the teaching and speaking with the leading educators in the English Public Schools he realised what great impact sport (preferably with a competitive edge) had on education, not only physically but mentally and morally as well.
Following Coubertin’s footsteps the present president of the IOC Mr. Jacques Rogge acknowledges sport as an important educational tool. In his first editorial in the magazine Olympic Review after assuming the IOC presidency he wrote:
· The examples of the champions motivate young people.
· The dream to participate in the Games will lead them to sport. Through sport, they will benefit from an educational tool.
· Sport will help their body and mind.
· Sport will teach them to respect the rules.
· Sport will teach them to respect their opponent.
· Sport will allow them to integrate society, develop social skills.
· Sport will give them an identity.
· Sport will bring them joy and pride.
· Sport will improve their health.

Education through sport occurs in every sporting context, whether intentional or not.
In the education system however sport or physical education is purposive. It is the object among other things to encourage the pupils to further participation in sport, to strengthen their social skills, improve their development of motor-control and teach the children a healthy lifestyle.
During the recent years more studies have revealed that physical education has further cognitive and social-psychological effects. A British report on physical education and school sport from 2001 concluded that schools with good records in physical education and school sports had higher attainment in Physical education among pupils, which were to be expected. What is more interesting is that these schools had higher achievements across the entire curriculum as well. [1]
A study with similar interests are being conducted in Denmark in these years. 700 pupils from the communities of Ballerup and Tårnby are followed through four years – from pre-school to 3rd grade. The chosen classes are given extra PE-lessons compared to the (for Danish standards) normal 2 lessons pr. week + special education in certain health-objects. The goals of the study are to reveal whether the extra PE-lessons affect the children’s cognitive abilities (tested through reading- and mathematical skills), their social competence, their health profile and the development of motor-control.
Danish children and adolescents are heavier and in poorer physical shape than ever before, and the risk-factor-profile for high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and cholesterol are quite intimidating. Which is another reason for investigating whether a more massive contribution of PE-lessons in the younger classes could contribute to a change in the children’s health-profile. The scientists are processing the first data – and the first articles are expected to be published this year. With positive results the politicians will be compelled to place physical education in a more central role in the education system.

Another current Danish project of interest in connection to our theme education through sport is a collaboration between the Danish Olympic Committee and the Sabroe Seminarium (a college of education situated in Aarhus). The seminarium are educating special kindergarten sports-teachers who are to work in certain Sport-Kindergartens authorised by the Danish Olympic Committee. It is with the same object in mind as described before but the project tries to reach the children earlier in life, to socialise them into sport from childhood and to ensure a vigorous and healthy living.

Concerning Olympic education a new interactive “Olympic Educational Package” is being released in June 2003 – targeted at especially preliminary- and secondary school (
In the Danish Olympic Academy we are at the moment launching a “Corps of Olympic Ambassadors”, composed of former “Young Participants” from the yearly IOA session. The plan is to travel around the country to kindergartens, schools, clubs etc. to disseminate the Olympic idea, to tell about our experiences in Olympia and our way of conceiving olympism. Depending on the target group we plan to do sport activities with the children as well. For example arrange an Olympic Day with a Torch Relay, perhaps an ancient pentathlon, ceremonies and medals etc. Another idea is to bring with us a former Olympic athletes, who are known to the children in advance – and by that means present the children for both the ideals of the Olympic Movement as well as the sporting experience from the Olympic Games.

Several reports – among them the former mentioned British report – states that it is of greatest importance that the teachers, trainers or educators are professionally competent and are able to win the children’s confidence to ensure them great experiences and continued participation in sport. This requires thorough education, which cannot be stressed enough and must be continuously improved.

[1] Fékrou Kidané, Olympic Review, April-May 2001.

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