The development of sport and youth in France

Authored by: Jean-Luc Lhéraud , Bernard Meurgey , Patrick Bouchet

Routledge Handbook of Sports Development

Print publication date:  December  2010
Online publication date:  December  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415479967
eBook ISBN: 9780203885581
Adobe ISBN: 9781134019717


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When researchers refer to individuals as ‘chameleons’ (Simmons 2008), ‘paradoxical and fragmented’ (Firat and Venkatesh 1993) or as guided by a quest for eclecticism and hedonism (Hetzel 2002), they all emphasize the fact that behaviour has become less predictable and stable than in the past. Whether this is ‘consumer made’ (Cova 2008), or that is the consequence of consumerism, or the emergence of a ‘plural man’ (Lahire 2005), these writers observe transformations in the relations between society and individuals and the emergence of heterogeneous practices particularly in the field of leisure and sports. In this context, we can reflect upon the complex ways in which youth (from 3 to 24 years of age) articulate, adjust and regulate (or not) their behaviours in relation to sport and the contexts of its consumption. Hence, in France, one could investigate why the young are not active enough, especially girls. In other words, why they do not follow international guidelines that recommend the equivalent of one hour of physical activity every day. According to a summer 2009 study published by the Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (French food standards agency): ‘exactly 43.2% of teenagers … reach a level of physical activity [that leads] to health benefits … more than six boys out of ten against fewer than one girl out of four [reach the recommended standard]’. But what does physical activity mean? The European Union working group ‘Sport and Health’ defines it as ‘any corporal movement associated with muscular contraction which increases the consumption of energy compared to levels observed at rest’ 1 and includes in that definition physical activities undertaken in an organized form (managed by a third party) or self-organized (done alone) at home, in public areas or specialist sports facilities and sites.

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