The welfare of adolescent high-performance action sport athletes

The case of young commercially sponsored Dutch kite surfers

Authored by: Froukje Smits

Routledge Handbook of Athlete Welfare

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367193256
eBook ISBN: 9780429201745
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429201745-26

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Abstract

Although a great deal of attention and policy measures have focused on ways in which the interests and welfare of young people who participate in organised sport can be safeguarded, relatively little (scholarly) attention has been paid to safeguarding the rights and best interests of youth who participate in action sports. Action sports is a term for activities like skateboarding, BMX, parkour, and snowboarding that differ from traditional rule-bound and competitive regulated sport activities. These activities, however, have undergone rapid growth, commercialisation, and institutionalisation over the past five decades. This process has been called the professionalisation of action sports. This chapter draws on data from a study with 11 commercially sponsored male kite surfers under 18 years old to explore the ways in which the rights and best interests of these athletes were neglected in processes of professionalisation. I show how sponsors and the digital media informed the experiences of these athletes and created practices that may not be in their best interest. I discuss the lack of attention to these possible violations of children’s rights and the consequences of these results for the welfare of young action sport athletes.

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