Epilogue: Sport, Gender and Development

Sport, Gender and Development

ISBN: 978-1-83867-866-1, eISBN: 978-1-83867-863-0

Publication date: 10 December 2021


Saavedra, M. (2021), "Epilogue: Sport, Gender and Development", Sport, Gender and Development (Emerald Studies in Sport and Gender), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 211-221. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-83867-863-020211009



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021 Martha Saavedra. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This work is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this work (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode


This work is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this work (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at http://creativecommons.org/licences/by/4.0/legalcode

Optimism or pessimism? I waiver between these two dispositions in general, but also with respect to the future of sport, gender, and development. The immediate context for my ambivalence is, of course, the current state us humans find ourselves in – the COVID-19 pandemic and its concomitant horsemen – anthropogenic climate change, racial injustice, inequity, inequality, and political violence. The global economic crisis resulting from the pandemic will reverberate for some time. Even while the wealthiest economies are already experiencing “an exceptionally strong but uneven recovery,” the generational legacies will be severe, impacting the already vulnerable hardest (World Bank, 2021). A global vaccine “apartheid” is endemic. We know that progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by the 2030 target date was “already off track” before COVID, but, per the UN, over the last 18 months, the global extreme poverty rate has risen for the first time in over 20 years (United Nations, 2021). The economic circumstances are matched politically. Civil unrest has increased globally as has forced displacement; the UNHCR reports that 82.4 million people, 1 in 95 humans, were displaced in 2020 (Bloem & Salemi, 2021; IEP, 2021; Raleigh, 2020; UNHCR, 2021). 1 Xenophobia, homophobia, and populist nationalism see many countries veering toward what Zakaria (1997) has called “illiberal democracy” or what Levitsky and Way (2010) refer to as “competitive authoritarianism.”

For many women and girls, the situation is particularly dire. Traditional protections have broken down, access to health, welfare, and legal services has diminished, while possibilities of harm from transactional sex to trafficking to violence have increased (Nesamoney, Darmstadt, & Wise, 2021). As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres relates in the most recent SDG report:

Women have faced increased domestic violence, child marriage is projected to rise after a decline in recent years, and unpaid and underpaid care work is increasingly and disproportionately falling on the shoulders of women and girls, impacting educational and income opportunities and health.

(United Nations, 2021)

As I work from home, side-eyeing COVID dashboards and wildfire incident maps while thinking about how to situate the current state of sport, gender, and development within this moment, it is easy for these global trends to feed my pessimism. 2

I nevertheless claim optimism, albeit a bleak version. The challenges are immense and that humans will successfully meet them is uncertain. I do not have an optimism about the inevitability of progress à la Steven Pinker, who has become renowned for his insistence that the world is continuing to improve in key areas (i.e., higher life expectancy, increased wealth, reduced poverty) (see Gray, 2015; Moyn, 2018; Wesołowski, 2020). Hope – if it can be called that – is due to the fact that I see that there are others who are doing the hard work to figure things out in humble, thoughtful, rigorous, critically informed and brave ways. I have observed them through my close work with practitioners in one sport and development organization, research on a few others, and absorbing the work of the three authors of this volume.

I have written elsewhere about Afrofuturism as an inspiration for sport and development – through imagination, hope, and play, it seeks to actively create a better future while also incorporating the past, “sometimes in a painful confrontation, by seeking to correct inequities and transcend legacies” (Saavedra, 2018, p. 215). This is the aesthetic from which I will proceed recognizing that the state of knowledge around gender, sport, and development, as evidenced by this volume, has advanced, become more nuanced, and is informed by values and methods that will give us an outside chance to make some small contribution toward well-being and peace in a distressed world.

The essence of this volume “troubles” the space of gender, sport, and development – the authors interrogate ideas, practices, relationships, and ways of being. Lyndsay Hayhurst, Holly Thorpe, and Megan Chawansky sit with discomfort, critique accepted power relationships, and push boundaries. After reading through this work, one cannot emerge “born again” to evangelize for the movement. The sport and development movement, such as it is, does exist and if one chooses to engage, one can bring this knowledge and perspective to the “game.” This leads me to reflect on what it is that we have learned – what I have learned – about sport, gender, and development and what else there is to consider. Here I will not review or summarize the arguments the authors make in the volume but will elaborate on three strands of thought that occurred to me as I read through the text.

The first is to better understand how we can benefit from considering sport more broadly beyond “Development” – outside of the “sport for good” institutionalized movement to gain a more nuanced understanding of how “development” takes place or not within sport. This latter perspective draws on critiques of the development industry as a whole. A second strand is the need to continue building on the work presented here that examines specific, mundane administrative and service delivery practices and processes within gender, sport, and development projects to understand better how to mitigate harm – including the unintentional – and elevate those who may have the most transformative positive impact. Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning is certainly contested, yet intentional, reflective, and data-driven (yes – especially contested!) learning is vital to improve the ongoing work. The third strand is to extend gender and feminist analysis and practice to the experience of boys and men in sport and development. Gender is not the reserve of women, gender equity will not advance without men and boys, and some existing gender norms – often labeled under the rubric of “toxic masculinity” – can be particularly harmful to men and boys.

Connecting Gender with Sport with Development

I first came to this area of research serendipitously. Over lunch on a spring day in 1992, my faculty colleagues and I were discussing how our semesters were going. I went on and on about Title IX – a topic in a class I was teaching on sexual politics in the United States, reminiscing about my own quest for gender equality and justice within sport, i.e., to gain varsity status for the women's soccer team when I was in college. 3 My colleague, Stephen Woolpert, said the obvious – I should teach a January term class on women and sport. It was such an “a-ha” moment – the course would be a way to bridge two important parts of my life – sports and scholarship. As I put together the syllabus that summer and fall, I found very little literature in the library on sport in Africa – my regional area of expertise – or any other non-Western region, and even less on women and sport in the Global South. The six-page 96-item bibliography – almost all in English – that I gathered for the 1993 January class had only three such citations: Eric Wagner's 1989 Sport in Asia and Africa: A Comparative Handbook, M.K. Singh's 1990 Women and Sports in India, and a 1992 article in Runner's World on Kenyan women runners by Linda Villarosa (Singh, 1990; Villarosa, 1992; Wagner, 1989). 4 An internet search now reveals a few relevant publications that I either missed or were totally unavailable to me at the time (Adedeji, 1978, 1982; Anyanwu, 1980; Leirvaag, 1989; Roberts, 1992) and a few more that were published in the following year (Aliu, Chado, & Adeyanju, 1993; De La Rey & Paruk, 1993; Paruk & De la Rey, 1993). Still the gap in the literature was clear. Being able to do something about it though took time, especially as in the next few years I transitioned to a new job, had a baby, and got divorced. Finally, in 1998, I secured funding from the West African Research Association and a leave of absence from my job to spend 12 weeks – half with my four-year-old son in tow – in Senegal to study the state of women and sport there.

Though my training was in political science and international relations, and I had done prior research on gender, development, and agrarian politics (a la Ester Boserup), my initial work on women's sport did not focus on what Gillian Hart calls big “D” Development – i.e., the industry and institutions that deliberately intervene to create change, presumably change that is positive (Hart, 2010), but rather it was to document and understand what was happening on the ground in Senegal. I researched a wide range of sporting disciplines (basketball, football, handball, track and field among others), the circumstances for athletes, coaches, referees, administrators, spectators, advocates, and scholars, and the policies and practices of clubs, federations, ministries, leagues, research and training institutes, local NGOs and INGOs. Issues of law, economics, education, culture, religion, health, and family emerged. And I barely scratched the surface (Saavedra, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2015). The approach perhaps could be filed more under “comparative gender studies” and the “development of sport for women.” Little “d” development was an ever-present issue with the economy still adjusting to the January 1994 CFA devaluation. Unemployment, rural-to-urban migration, and housing were particular pressure points. Though sport was officially amateur per the national laws that governed all sport, the popularity of women's basketball especially in Dakar meant a top club, une association sportive et culturelle (ASC), was able to provide some support in kind or otherwise to a number of the basketballeuse. It was a means of livelihood for women who played the game.

Though big “D” Development as an industry was and is very present in Senegal through many international development agencies and NGOs working on health, agriculture, education and environment, etc., the institutionalized sport, gender, and development nexus that is extant now in much of the world had not emerged in Senegal at the end of the 1990s. Sport, though, was a recipient of bilateral and multilateral aid. Periodically, this would be symbolized by a representative of a European agency presenting some balls to the league at a tournament. CONFEJES, la Conférence des ministres de la jeunesse et des sports de la Francophonie, is headquartered in Dakar and is involved in promoting transnational cooperation in sport. The Ministry of Youth and Sport had policies directed toward youth, especially to address delinquency, through the ASCs. The associations' structure and relationship to the state mirrors that in France emanating from the association loi 1901 that guaranteed the rights of citizens to organize into nonprofit associations and a Sporting code that “recognizes the promotion and development of sports as being in the public interest” (Verheyden, 2010). 5 The Senegalese state did not control the day-to-day affairs of the associations but provided the governance structure, regulations, and sometimes funding. Many ASCs offered multiple sports, art, dance, and other cultural and educational activities for youth. While boys and young men were the overwhelming beneficiaries, many of the ASCs offered sports and activities to girls and women as well, though none of the major clubs organized women's football at the time (see Saavedra, 2003). And as I was told repeatedly that by law, there was pas de discrimination sexuelle, women were able to take up opportunities throughout the clubs, leagues, and associations and challenge boundaries beyond what women in the US sporting world were able to do. Indeed, I met a few women who served as referees in men's events – including football and la lutte, wrestling.

It is true that my time in Senegal occurred before the current iteration of the sport and development movement really got underway. Though I have returned several times since I have not been able to conduct extensive further research there. I note, however, that there are only four Senegalese organizations registered on the Sport and Development platform and all seem to be ASCs. 6 They also seem distinct from the “classic” sport and development organization that has an expat component and is raising funds globally to support its work. The organization of sporting associations in Senegal represents an older iteration of the state and civil society mutually recognizing the possibilities of sport for achieving social goals and agreeing to a social contract legally defined. I am familiar with one project that fits the gender, sport, and development frame, Ladies Turn (http://www.ladiesturn.org/), established in 2009 by two Senegalese, the former captain and manager the women's national football team, and an American who was working first with the UN and then the US State Department in Dakar (and was also a UC Berkeley Development Studies graduate). Operating within the Senegalese legal framework, its goal was to promote women's football in its own right and as a tool for gender equality (“Ladies Turn” n.d.; B. Packer, 2019). It successfully organized several tournaments through 2018 raising the visibility of the women's game and providing the members with hands-on organizational and management experience, access to networks, and group solidarity. The “demonstration” effect echoes the motto Tunaweza or “We can do it” of Moving the Goalposts of Kilifi, Kenya. As more and more people see women play a sport, it can become normalized, as happened with basketball.

Being a women footballer or footballeuse in Senegal though comes with social stigma unlike the prominent public accolades and social status accorded a basketballeuse that I witnessed. In her ethnography, Beth Packer explores how the term footballeuse “symbolizes the intentional representation of a socially undesirable feminine masculinity” and a violation of gender norms (2019). The women become “moral deviants” subject to “physical abuse, social ostracism, and structural violence.” Yet, paradoxically, they unabashedly “adopt the discrediting attributes attached to women's soccer” (2019, pp. 130–131). In this embodied act of queer resistance (regardless of their sexuality), Packer argues that they assert moral agency and create transformative ethical selves that are fully legible within the moral ethos of suffering and piety found in both global sport – no pain, no gain – and the Senegalese Sufi traditions – most especially as embodied by Cheikh Amadou Bamba, the founder of the Murid brother (2019, pp. 130, 138–139). Their unapologetic resistance brings them strength, virtue, and power and can lead to “new gendered subjectivities and Muslim spatialities” (2019, p. 130). The transformative power of gender and sport is fully evident here. It is deeply grounded in the local sociocultural milieu, in dialogue with global discourses, and institutions of sport with the women as the principal agents. While the football leagues and tournaments they play are situated with the framework of Senegalese civil society, including the associations, the footballuese’ voluntary adoption of stigma to challenge oppressive gender norms through piety and moral agency exists outside big “D” development. As I have argued elsewhere, modern sport has always lent itself to instrumental purposes of those within state and society who sought to affect outcomes and bring about transformative change that can impact small “d” development (2009, p. 130; 2018). As the authors of this volume point out in Chapter 1, many women and girls who participate in sport outside of the formalities of structured SGD programs are overlooked by scholarly accounts (p. 9, this volume). Insights from research on such phenomena can inform the gender, sport, and development movement.

Learning Inside the Sport, Gender, and Development Movement

Existential questions that remain for sport and development are: “Can sport advance development objectives? What is the social impact of sport? Is it worth doing?” Because the quest for funding is so critical to many sport and development projects, accountability to funders whether the “donors” be philanthropists, foundations, governments, and/or taxpayers looms large for many in the movement. As such, Hayhurst, Thorpe, and Chawansky point out how monitoring and evaluation can become an obsession. Clarifying “theories of change,” pondering logic models, devising metrics, determining outcomes, collecting and analyzing data, and then communicating impact through research findings, data visualization, and storytelling require much attention from those managing sport and development projects. Because of the pressures of balancing annual budgets, accountability often flows upwards and outwards. Throughout this volume the authors have deftly situated sport and development in its social and institutional environment and have argued that accountability to participants and communities should be of more consequence within projects and organizations. Accountability is a relational concept and through its practice and mechanisms reflects asymmetries in relationships with measures often skewed to the interests of dominant actors. Thus, accountability is about power (Ebrahim, 2005). In the work I have been engaged in, I am more and more interested in understanding accountability within organizations, especially among the employees. One can consider governance practices and processes including information and data systems, communications, finance and budgeting, and human resources or what is now often called “people and culture.” Perhaps belying another part of my academic training, organizational theory, and particularly the influence of the early twentieth-century writer and management consultant, Mary Parker Follet, I would argue that the mundane day-to-day practices and processes impacting the people within the organization are perhaps the most important node of deep positive transformation as well as potential harm so must be attended to thoughtfully and with care (see Metcalf & Urwick, 2003; Tonn, 2003). These are issues explored in Chapters 4, 5, and 8 of this volume, with a focus on the lived, embodied experiences of volunteers and staff.

How do such practices and processes emerge? Regulatory and licensing bodies dictate certain aspects of the structure, policies, and processes. The skills, experience, and values of founders and organizational leaders are a strong influence. The sociocultural milieu of the community, sector, participants, and staff also impacts norms and expectations. However, as a specific organizational culture takes shape it may deviate from the local social norms, and, thus, a bureaucratic politics theoretical approach suggests that those joining the organization will tend to conform more to the organization's culture, i.e., “where you stand depends on where you sit” (see Allison, 1971).

In this volume, Hayhurst, Thorpe, and Chawansky have suggested several attributes of a sport and development organizational culture that would be conducive to more equitable and just outcomes. These include humility, accepting discomfort, stark recognition of power differentials, heightened cross-cultural competencies, and a fundamental and constant realization that one's own view of the world is not universal. Starting from this frame can help to avoid “moral licensing” issues, where because someone believes they and/or their initiative is “doing good,” they are inclined to cut corners, lie, or cheat elsewhere (Dubner, 2018).

Adopting an explicit code of conduct that promotes ethical behavior, transparency and effectiveness may be an option. There is a movement across NGOs to do so (e.g., see the Core Humanitarian Standard https://corehumanitarianstandard.org/), but as Lloyd and de la Casas noted in their 2006 review of 35 codes of conduct, most are upwardly accountable, focused on reporting, compliance with laws and regulations, and financial management (2006). In addition to the values that the authors offer, when looking inward, a few criteria can be applied to discern accountability to the people served. These might include: Are the staff well supported to do their job effectively? Are they treated fairly and equitably? Compensation packages should at least meet minimum wage and benefit requirements, but can an organization go farther – for instance, to offer parental leave, adequate health insurance, and wages that fight back against the expat conundrum – by which two people doing the same job in the same location will be paid differently simply because of where they were born and of which country they are a citizen? (Soccer without Borders, 2021) Is there constructive supervision, mentoring, training, assessment, and feedback? Are there clear opportunities for professional development and career advancement? Are there policies and practices to work through the inevitable internal conflicts? Is problem-solving and learning encouraged? Is it ok to fail, iterate, and innovate? Are staff given time to reflect and learn? Is there an ongoing evaluation of issues that may affect staff safety and security and protocols and contingency plans developed and revisited regularly? With sport and development organizations, child safeguarding is a vital area and a similar orientation should be taken toward the staff – paid and volunteer. Following Mary Parker Follet, I would argue that a sport and development organization that spends a lot of time on these “people” issues, emphasizing worker empowerment and participatory democracy, will not only be more effective but also engender transformative positive social change.

Yet, these practices and processes do not actually answer the three questions I began this section with, “Can sport advance development objectives? What is the social impact of sport? Is it worth doing?” A “people-focused” organization may have positive outcomes, but it does not have to be a sport and development organization. Many others in the sport and development world have sought to answer these questions. My first foray into the institutionalized formal world of sport and development was in the winter of 2005, when UNICEF and Swiss Academy for Development invited me to New York for a meeting for a workshop on “monitoring and evaluation of sports-based programming for development.” The objective of the meeting was to explore the “state of the art in monitoring and evaluation of sports for development programs,” which at the time were geared toward the Millennium Development Goals. Along with representatives from UK Sport, FIFA, the Population Council, the Women's Sport Federation, the Sport Councils from Norway and the Netherlands, the Commonwealth Games, Right to Play, SCORE, and Magic Bus India, as well as several academics, over three days, we hashed through logic models, a variety of indicators, and methods of measurement that could possibly objectively reveal how sport programs contributed to development. It was edifying, but the bottom line as Fred Coalter, one of the key participants, has expressed many times, is that the answers to my three questions are elusive (e.g., Coalter, 2009, 2013a, 2013b).

There is of course a lively broad and deep debate about whether any of the big “D” interventions have actually achieved “Development.” My inclination on this has been shaped by critical, political economy analyses such as those of Arturo Escobar (2011), James Ferguson (1990), Gillian Hart (2004) and Michael Watts (2013). There is another political economy approach though that has also influenced me – that of development economists as exemplified by the 2019 Nobel Laureates in Economics, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer and the work at the J-PAL lab at MIT. They developed methods of impact evaluation using rigorous randomized controlled trials in which marginal differences in interventions are tested and compared on multiple dimensions to understand impact. These microeconomic quasi-experimental methods allow more manageable questions to be answered (Banerjee, Duflo, & Kremer, 2020; Olken, 2020). William Easterly (2009) contrasts these marginal or incremental approaches with projects that have had large transformational ambitions. Hubris, ahistoricism, and inability to actually isolate the impact of such interventions has led to much waste, disappointment, and replication of failed and damaging efforts over several decades.

Ted Miguel, who has worked closely with all three Laureates, founded UC Berkeley's Center for Effective Global Action (cega.berkeley.edu) to collaborate and conduct similar research. 7 I have talked with him and other CEGA affiliates about the efficacy of sport and development. Based on other research, they were skeptical of the impact of sport per se. What of the opportunity costs given to scare resources? Sport can mobilize a lot of resources, but is this enough to warrant investments of time, effort, money when those resources could be deployed elsewhere? It is only recently that one of the first studies to use the RCT methodologies to investigate sport as a tool for development was done (Beaman, Herskowitz, Keleher, & Magruder, 2020). The evaluation was on Mercy Corps' Sports for Change (SFC) program in Liberia that links soft skills development to economic outcomes. It is a life skills program mediated through sports clubs intending to promote socioemotional skills to improve psychological well-being, and foster traits that boost labor force productivity. They recruited 2,400 youth and randomly selected them by lottery into a group which would receive the SFC intervention and another half which would not. The two groups were stratified by gender. They conducted baseline line surveys on 35 variables including indices on psychosocial well-being and life events. The intervention ran from July 2013 to February 2014 and consisted of 30 sport clubs of 40 youth each with two coaches, who each trained for five days and had the support of four coach mentors. The endline survey took place a year later in April and May 2015. (Ebola intervened, but did not prevent them from conducting the endline survey.) They found that the “Sports for Change program exerted limited impacts on psychosocial outcomes, but did increase labor force engagement a year after the intervention by a statistically significant 0.12 standard deviations” though they were unable to isolate the mechanism. The lack of impact on psychosocial outcomes is significant for the sport and development community. Is the assumption that undergirds so many programs wrong? Or is it a matter of design? The researchers did wonder if a different method of selecting and training coaches might generate a different effect. Further research on this would be welcome, especially as many theories of change assume highly trained skilled coaches do make a difference as do the type and character of the activities engaged in. One other result from this study is intriguing especially from a gender perspective. A “heterogeneity analysis suggests that more disadvantaged groups (women, less educated, young, and those without vocational training) benefited most from the program” (p. 25). Again, for those who have worked in such programs, this finding rings true. Further research could help illuminate why and how.

Gender and Boys

The fact that women were among those who benefited most from the Mercy Corps intervention, among other things, highlights that there were those who did not benefit as much – the young men. As a mother of two young men, in this final section I especially want to tease out why gendering boys and young men within sport, gender, and development is also important for both men and women.

A few years ago, I was present for a student discussion led by African women about femicide in various African countries. The August 2019 murder of University of Cape Town student, Uyinene Mrwetyana, had brought the issue to the fore. It was a charged and difficult discussion that the women handled with poetry, art, grace, and facts. Yet, I realized later that one set of facts had not emerged – overall murder rates. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime 2019 study provides these and more. Women are more often killed by family and intimate partners, with the home being the most dangerous place for a woman. While globally, the number of women murdered declined between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of women killed by intimate partners or family members increased to 47% of all women murdered (p. 14). Nevertheless, most homicide victims, 81% are men, largely driven by homicide rates in the Americas followed by Africa, with males between the age of 15 and 29 at the highest risk (p. 15). And 90% of perpetrators are men (p. 23). In regions where the overall rate of murder falls, it is largely due to the fall in the number of men murdered. In some countries in Asia and Europe, with lower murder rates, the number of male and female homicide victims is roughly equal. The UNDOC report explains the differences as follows:

Homicides involving men tend to be affected to a greater extent by sociopolitical developments, drug markets and other volatile factors that cause spikes in killings. Homicides involving women tend to be determined by long-term issues such as gender roles, social norms, the status of women in society, discrimination and gender equality. Since these factors are less volatile, the rate at which women are killed tends to be more stable.

(UNODC, 2019, pp. 24–25)

While the analysis about differential impacts of volatile and long-term issues may hold, I do want to question the analytical appellation of “gender” to only the long-term factors. I would argue that gender roles and social norms around what it means to be a man, especially a young man, directly contribute to the situations that may lead a man to becoming a victim or perpetrator of homicide. This is one of the most extreme examples of how gender expectations can negatively affect men (Barker, 2005). But there are many other outcomes of concern of which many directly impact the girls and women in the lives of the boys and men. Hence, I would suggest that all sport and development programs (including those focused on young boys and men) are in fact gendered, but that analysis exploring these gendered dimensions are often overlooked, both theoretically and programmatically. If program designers, staff, and researchers intentionally rendered visible how gender, masculinity, and femininity operate and impact the participants within that space, this could enrich the program and lead to new possibilities.

Coaching Boys into Men, a project of Futures without Violence, is an example of an initiative seeking to directly affect the gendered social norms and expectations of young men as a means of violence prevention, especially in terms of bystander behavior. Using a series of tools and trainings, coaches – often based in schools – work on a day-to-day basis with young male athletes to model and promote respectful behavior on and off the field of play. The goal is to prevent relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault by altering gender norms that foster gender-based violence and promote bystander intervention. First implemented in the United States, the project has expanded to India, Australia, South Africa, Angola, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Mexico, Norway, and Trinidad, among other places. Elizabeth Miller undertook a three-year randomized-controlled trial in Sacramento from 2009 to 2012 with over 2,000 athletes from 16 high schools (eight were in the control group). The results found that those in the treatment group were more likely to report less abuse perpetration and more positive bystander behavior when witnessing abusive or disrespectful behavior by peers (Miller et al., 2014; Miller, Jaime, & McCauley, 2016). In 2016, Miller et al. (2020) undertook a similar study in 52 Pennsylvania middle schools. There were similar results “in increasing positive bystander behaviors and recognition of abusive behaviors and reducing relationship abuse perpetration” but there were no changes in intentions to intervene nor in exploratory outcomes (Miller et al., 2020, p. 246). The Parivartan Cricket project in India, focused on “coaching boys into men” and reducing gender-based violence, has also been studied (Bateman & Binns, 2014; Das, Ghosh, Miller, & Verma, 2012; Madhumita Das et al., 2015). While there are caveats to implementation, for programs seeking to impact gender-based violence, the Coaching Boys to Men offers a range of resources and toolkits. The CBIM can be implemented within a bespoke sport and development program, but also through existing schools and recreational youth sport programs.


While there is still much one can and should be pessimistic about, these various strands – the possibilities of new insights when exploring the loose boundaries of gender, sport, and development, opportunities to affect change by strengthening internal “people” processes, the promise of new knowledge production through randomized controlled trials, and prospects for violence prevention by engaging young men through sport – compel me to turn toward cautious optimism. There is work to be done. This book documents some of what we have seen thus far and helps to lay out a plan for future such work to continue in a more reflective manner.


Trends in violence, armed conflict, civil unrest during COVID and over the last two decades have been mixed and heterogeneous. For instance, while IEP found that civil unrest increased, Bloem and Salemi also found a “short-term decline in inter-group conflict events associated with COVID-19.” All can be true. For more nuanced analyses of trends in “conflict and peace,” see the works cited. Hintjens and Zarkov provide an overview of theories and methods (Hintjens & Zarkov, 2014).


For those unfamiliar with Title IX, it is a 1972 US Federal amendment that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any education program that receives Federal financial assistance. It has had a profound impact on sports for girls and women, but has far-reaching implications well beyond sports (USDE, 2021).


Villarosa, by the way, contributed recently to the New York Times 1619 Project, with an article about the damage done by and persistence of myths on racial difference (Villarosa, 2019).


Now split into the Ministry of Sport and the Ministry of Youth, Employment, and Citizen Construction.


Relative to the previous section, CEGA is very explicit and committed to their core values: Empathy; Rigor; Diversity; Equity & Inclusion; Openness, and Flexibility. They are also committed to collaborating with scholars from the Global South and have robust exchange programs. See: https://cega.berkeley.edu/values/.