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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the processes that influence the evolution of a modern sport. It focusses on the case of international skateboarding: the sport…
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the processes that influence the evolution of a modern sport. It focusses on the case of international skateboarding: the sport that was recently included into the Olympic Games.
An inductive research strategy was informed by the notions of evolution of modern sport, prolympism and new institutionalism. The primary data were collected through a series of interviews and supplemented by the analysis of documents, press and social media.
The paper analysed how the organisation of international skateboarding has changed to date and identified three major determinants of its evolution: values of the activity, commercial interests and the Olympic movement. The following recurring discussion themes emerged: the link between commercialism and legitimisation of sport; bureaucratisation under the Olympic movement; and tensions between prolympism and values of skateboarding.
A limitation of the case study method is that any conclusions refer to this particular sport and their applicability to other sports lies within analytical generalisation. Still sport governing bodies and policy makers can learn from the evolution of international skateboarding and analyse potential issues and consequences for other emerging sports. In terms of theoretical implications, the study highlights legitimisation as one the key characteristics of evolution of modern sport, which should be considered along with previously established criteria, such as bureaucratisation, commercialisation and professionalisation.
The study extends the existing research on evolution of modern sports by examining a very rich contemporary case of skateboarding, the internationally growing sport with unique organisational arrangements. It contributes to knowledge of the evolution towards legitimisation of emerging sports, but also towards sportification of popular culture and society.