International Sports Studies (ISS)

ISSN: 1443-0770

International Sports Studies


John Saunders (Brisbane, Australia)

International Sports Studies 40 No. 1 (2018)     pp: 1-5     2018-10-10

Stichworte/keywords: ISS, ISCPES

Cite: APA    BibTeX

Saunders, J. (2018). Editorial. International Sports Studies, 40 (1), 1-5. doi:10.30819/iss.40-1.01
doi = {10.30819/iss.40-1.01},
url = {},
year = 2018,
publisher = {Logos Verlag Berlin},
volume = {40},
number = {1},
pages = {1-5},
author = {John Saunders},
title = {Editorial},
journal = {International Sports Studies}

Birthdays and anniversaries are always special occasions, usually joyous and celebratory but sometimes sad, providing moments of regret and occasionally foreboding. Two thousand and eighteen is the fortieth birthday of the International Society for Comparative Physical Education and Sport (ISCPES) and as such heralds volume 40 of the society’s journal, the currently named International Sports Studies. For many, the fortieth birthday as noted above, can be a pivotal occasion. In our culture, it commonly represents a watershed between the vigour and energy of youth and the relative maturity of middle age. As such it is frequently a time for both celebration and reflection. So it should be for ISCPES.

To consider first the birth – this was indeed recorded as an occasion of celebration. As the celebrated physical education historian Earle Ziegler (2003) noted The inauguration of the International Society for Physical Education and Sport (ISCPES) marked the beginning of a new era within the profession. He then went on to acknowledge the role of Dr Uri Simri as the host of the inaugural conference at the Wingate Institute and the establishment of the tradition of the biennial conferences. This has been so much a core of the society’s activity, starting in Dalhousie Canada in 1980 through University of Minnesota, Malente/Kiel in Germany university of British Columbia, HK 1988, England 1990 and continuing through to the 2017 meeting in Borovets, Bulgaria.

So what can we recollect about this ‘new’ era? What about the profession at that time? In 1978 the world appeared to be confidently edging towards a new period of internationalism. International agencies including those in physical education and sport were on the rise. Professionals in physical education and sport were finding new interests in sharing ideas and practices with colleagues in different countries. Associations such as ICSSPE, ICHPER, FIEP and AIESEP provided the platforms to facilitate this. The developing global economy was embracing sport as a natural domain for furthering greater involvement and interaction – with mutual commercial benefits attached. Education and the curriculum movement was a burgeoning area for collaboration and exchange, as nations sought ways of understanding each other, developing good will and increasing trade. In the midst of this, physical education was a young emerging discipline with a message to sell as to its relevance in a world that generally seemed positive and hopeful of continuing progress towards a better world. Sharing in this, the physical education profession in the Anglophone countries, such as Australia and the UK, was poised to take advantage of an expanding and liberalising tertiary education sector. At the beginning of the 1970s only two universities in Australia offered academic programmes in physical education - from the bachelor’s level to the PhD. The situation was similar in the UK and in both nations, physical education teaching was at a very early stage in moving towards being a graduate profession. Graduate status was still only available for the majority through the Bachelor of Education route, confirming the status of the subject as being no more than a curriculum area within schools. However, the move into the more traditional universities had required the adoption of a more fundamental approach. To be worthy of study and scholarship at the highest level, it became necessary to identify and define an academic discipline, around which knowledge and ongoing enquiry in the area could be organised. Franklin Henry’s model for physical education as a multi-disciplinary academic study became the dominant design that influenced the future development of the subject throughout the English-speaking world and beyond. A corollary for adopting the notion of a discipline was that the knowledge could be acquired for its own sake or applied to a variety of contexts and was not restricted to the school or institutional context. Changes in terminology followed to better reflect this broader notion of a discipline/field of knowledge. Human Movement Studies was an early favourite, adopted by the University of Queensland for example and supported through scholarly publications by the Whiting led group in the UK. Although this term captured well the conceptual focus it was intended to describe, as a term it failed to excite the general imagination. Human Movement Studies – „from dance to diarrhoea“ as one critic sneered! So a number of competing labels emerged all intending to cover the same area of enquiry and academic knowledge. These included Human Kinetics, Kinesiology, Physical Culture, Human Performance to name but a few. Some even persevered doggedly with Physical Education, noting that the term could refer both to a profession and an academic discipline. But popular prejudices and the market took a hand from here. The term “studies” became considered somewhat random and second order, whereas the notion of “science” began to gather esteem. Similarly, within the context of all of human motion, skilled behaviour and excellence in the field of sport began to attract growing interest. This was accompanied at the same time by a growth in the global sport industry and the professionalisation of participation and involvement in sports across the board. So, sport science began to emerge as the label adopted by universities to reflect their interest and expertise within the broader field of human physical activity and behaviour. Of course, such a focus did not suit all, especially as a parallel interest in public health and well-being began to draw attention to the increasing problem of obesity and its association with hypoactivity as an outcome of contemporary lifestyle. So, the terms exercise and exercise science began to find favour as a way of addressing this broader community concern with issues of human movement and the population as a whole.

Yet in 1978 all this was still to unfold. The focus was still largely on physical education and physical education professionals were front and centre in the developments occurring in this exciting new world. It was a world populated by heroes and acknowledged leaders whom the rest of us followed unquestionably. Professor Ziegler cited Dr Simri’s influence and leadership in International Physical Education. Professor Franklin Henry provided already acknowledged leadership in the conceptualisation of physical education as an academic discipline. In the UK Peter Macintosh became synonymous with the history of physical education; Dr H. T. A. (John) Whiting at Leeds defined the psychological study of skill acquisition for physical educators; A. D. Munrow of Birmingham launched debate on the philosophy behind physical education. There were of course others, but in the main the leaders of this era were easy to identify and they were people who had stepped up into spaces that were waiting to be filled. It was into such a world that the founders of ISCPES stepped. It should be noted that in the early development of physical education as a multidisciplinary academic study, one of the strands taught in many programs alongside – physiology, psychology, history, sociology, anatomy, philosophy etc was Comparative Physical Education and Sport. Today I know of no such course or offering within current university programmes. Similarly, it has become increasingly hard to identify offerings that examine exercise and sport through historical, philosophical or even sociological lenses. At best, a broad social science approach may be found in some of the better staffed institutions, but in general it must be acknowledged that the discipline has fallen prey to a culture of ‘scientism’ that appears to value quantitative measurement above all things.

However, identifying the early leaders in Comparative Physical Education and Sport can best be achieved by following the location of those important early conferences. John Pooley at Dalhousie, March Krotee at Minnesota, Herbert Haag at Kiel, Eric Broome at British Columbia were some of the names that took the society forward in those years and over all their efforts were the imposing shadows of others such as Lynn Vendien and John Nixon.

So now to consider and reflect on the view after forty years of experience. Much like our journeys through life, it would be a calumny to talk of forty years of progress. Just like any human life it has comprised the whole spectrum of outstanding successes, periods of disappointment, lost years and periods of quiet growth. A more detailed analysis of its events and their significance must await another time and hopefully another scribe. However, it is fair to observe that in 2018 we face a far different world to that we addressed in 1978. The notion that today presents a far more challenging scenario to our leaders is supported by a headline in the New Scientist five years ago. It read “The wonder year: Why 1978 was the best year ever”. The argument is made in a discussion of the limitations of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the most commonly used measurement of economic progress. In contrast to GDP, which has been steadily moving forward year by year, an alternative measure is identified - the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) - which attempts to more accurately reflect progress by accounting for social and environmental costs rather than just economic activity. GPI per person actually peaked in 1978 and has been declining slowly but steadily ever since. Such a conclusion appears supported by many more personal observations based on the general social emotional climate of our modern world and the daily almost continual focus on its problems and difficulties rather than its achievements and opportunities.

To take this back to the professional environment we face in 2018 – it is a far more competitive and fragmented scene than that faced by our predecessors. To return to the Australian example, there are now 43 universities in the country. Of these all, but a handful, would have courses in some form or another related to sport, exercise, physical activity and/or recreation, which would have at one time be characterised as physical education related. The majority would now be sited in Faculties of Health Science, with some still to be found within Education and others in Science or occasionally Business and Humanities. This has been largely due to the market driven nature of modern universities and the demand by students for studies in this area. Over the years many of the large number of graduates produced have become absorbed mainly into sports and recreation-based businesses and organisations and a smaller number into allied health areas. The number involved in teaching/education seems to have remained comparatively stable and hence represents an increasingly smaller proportion of the field in general. The vast majority of this new professional body has been prepared within a science-based paradigm which focuses mainly on the measurement of physical and performance outcomes. This has had comparatively little exposure to understanding and interpreting the contextual dimensions and implications of human movement behaviour. The knowledge of traditions, understanding and questioning of the rationale behind our practices appears to feature little in the formative experiences of today’s professionals and appears to have little relevance and interest for them. If such an analysis holds good, this makes the challenge faced by ISCPES’ current president and his impressive looking executive team quite clear. It must be first to clearly articulate what the society and its unique area of expertise is and what it brings to the table. Then there is the need to communicate this to our community. I use that word advisedly and deliberately avoid the terms ‘clientele‘ or ‘customers‘. One of the gravest problems we face today is in the ubiquitous and unquestioning acceptance of the application of the market model to all dimensions of human existence. We have seen this in the commodification of sport and education. We have an urgent need to reclaim these two institutions in particular and take them forward under a different conceptual framework and beneath a different banner.

So from the longer-term task to the more immediate. First, I am pleased to welcome you to volume 40, the first of our anniversary editions. With reference to our responsibility for defining our field, it is a physical education contribution from Germany that leads the way this month. The contribution of Ingo Wagner, Fabienne Bartsch & Bettina Rulofs, addresses a pressing contemporary issue for many of those teaching in Europe’s schools. Following Chancellor Merkel’s bold policy decision to address the problem of displaced persons from failed and warring states by opening the borders, the implications of the policy are now filtering through into the professional lives of teachers in schools. Together with a more general social policy trend towards acceptance and indeed encouragement of diversity, current changes mean that teachers are being challenged as never before to modify and adapt their professional practices to support these policies at a point where it counts – where children with diverse cultures, beliefs and language abilities come together in the classroom to prepare for a new life alongside the children of the more established communities. This is a monumental task and it is to be expected that teachers will require additional support and materials in order to meet this challenge. Wagner and his colleagues provide necessary insights from teachers themselves as to the nature of the actual support needed.

Our second article is from South Africa and reflects the significance of sport in that country and the development of sports coaching as a profession with a critical role to play in the physical activity experiences of young South Africans. Coaching as physical education, has always been a profession that is demanding in both time and effort of its practitioners. Alliance Kubayi’s study seeks to tell us more about the tensions between this workplace commitment and satisfying family demands and responsibilities. The author’s findings emphasise the importance of organisational support in providing both job satisfaction and also life satisfaction. The third article provides further support for the importance of understanding how widely used concepts play out within different societies. Achievement goal theory has been a much-used framework in studying motivation in sport. Yet like so many concepts it has been developed mainly in the US and replicated in other English language constituencies. With growing co-operation and interaction in the global sporting world, it is vitally important that we as scholars test the robustness of these concepts within other settings and cultures, if we are going to make claims for their efficacy when used with populations other than those with which they were developed. Hence Shohei Takamatsu & Yasuo Yamaguchi’s study with a sample of Japanese athletes provides an important reminder of the steps that need to be taken when attempting to translate and draw upon findings developed in other domains. This again is surely an important task for the ISCPES - not just to argue for the importance of cross cultural research to generate more widely generalisable findings, but also to remind scholars of the importance of validating research instruments and theoretical perspectives for the settings in which they are to be applied. Finally, our last paper is a further excerpt from the recently published collection “Manufacturing Masculinity. The Mangan Oeuvre - Global Reflections on J. A. Mangan's Studies of Masculinity, Imperialism and Militarism.” This is presented as a further taster to encourage readers to acquaint themselves with this most significant contribution to the scholarly domain of sport history. This chapter features the contribution by Jeffrey Richards which argues in a most entertaining way for the significance of academic sport history within the broader field of cultural history.

In conclusion, I hope you enjoy the varied work of our international authors and will join me in thanking our hard-working reviewers for their contributions behind the scenes in bringing these insights to you.

John Saunders
Brisbane, Australia

Holmes, B. (2013). The wonder year: Why 1978 was the best year ever. July 10, New Scientist.
Ziegler, E. F. (2003). Socio-cultural foundations of Physical Education and Educational Sport. Oxford: Meyer & Meyer.
Whiting, H. T. A. (1975). Concepts in skill learning. (The human movement series). London: Lepus Books.
Henry, F. M. (1964). Physical education an academic discipline. Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, 35(7), 32–69.

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