Medal counts and win-at-all-cost attitudes have increasingly overshadowed the original focus of the Commonwealth Games. The Gold Coast, however, is in a strong position to restore the spirit of diversity and development on which the Games were fostered.
This will be the argument put forward by Professor Bruce Kidd, an expert on the political economy of international sport, when he presents a public forum at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus on Monday.
“Today the Commonwealth Games have strayed from their cultural-political origins to focus almost exclusively on ‘sport for sport’s sake’, and this must change,” he says. “Most athletes, coaches, officials and spectators who attend the Games are preoccupied with their sports. They know and care little about the Commonwealth and its goals.”
Professor Kidd claims it is vital for Gold Coast 2018 to lead a return to Commonwealth values, and is calling for a major push to help sport advance peace and economic stability in developing countries of the Commonwealth.
“There has long been divergence, even tension, between the Games’ narrow focus on high performance sport and the Commonwealth’s political and social project of ‘development, diversity and democracy’.”
Professor Kidd, from the University of Toronto, teaches and writes extensively about the history and political economy of Canadian and international sport and physical activity.
He has worked extensively with international bodies to advance opportunities for physical education and sport, and currently chairs the Commonwealth Advisory Body on Sport.
At the Griffith University forum, Professor Kidd, whose current focus is development through sport, will outline how organisers of the 2018 Games on the Gold Coast can instigate and effect change.
Professor Kidd will also lecture students of Griffith University’s Commonwealth Games course at both the Gold Coast and Nathan campuses during his visit.
Professor Kidd is a founder member of the Commonwealth Games Canada’s International Development through Sport Program, which conducts programs of broadly based development in some 22 African and Caribbean Commonwealth countries.
“Critics argue that the repeated staging of the Games in the UK or the white settler dominions and the run-away victories by athletes from those same nations reinforce the colonialism of the old British Empire.
“It could be argued that the only time the Games ever fully integrated with the political project of the Commonwealth was when Commonwealth sports bodies played a leading role in the international campaign against apartheid sport.”
He is a member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame (as both an athlete and a builder) and the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was awarded the Canadian Olympic Order. In 2006, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Commonwealth Sports Awards Foundation. In 2004, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
WHERE: Griffith University, Gold Coast campus, The Chancellery (G34 1.05/1.06)
WHEN: Monday, April 22, 3.30pm