Diversity management

Sport is not immune to the influence of environmental and cultural changes. As mentioned in Unit 1, many individuals often process these changes by engaging in stereotypical thinking and apply existing beliefs to simplify complex situations. In particular, analysis of these changes and the different cultures participating in sport often rely on two misguided assumptions. Firstly, there is a dominant belief that individuals from certain cultural backgrounds face inhibiting structural elements, for instance, religion and diet, as well as an inability to withstand the physical contact associated with sport. Secondly, there is a belief that the choice of the activities is often dictated, structured and constrained by parents or relatives. Moreover, in many programs focusing on integration in sports, youth from diverse ethnic backgrounds are often considered as a uniformly, problematic group.

In addition, diverse groups can bring with them negative social relations from outside the world of sport (i.e. social tensions in daily life) and this can influence what happens during sport activities. This can be seen within the context of a mixed competition and can be partially explained by the fact that inter-ethnic encounters in public spaces and other social spheres are imported into this sport and by the competitive and physical elements of the game itself.

Considering these realities, it is crucial that physical education teachers and coaches avoid making stereotypical assumptions, participate in continuous learning, and engage in open, honest communication with their students or athletes. Techniques related to motivational interviewing, presented in Unit 2, can help in that last respect.

It is also essential that physical activity and sport programs foster an inclusive environment and integrate the voices of all students or athletes. How physical education teachers and coaches plan and implement sessions is therefore essential to ensuring that inclusive environment.

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