An ethnographic study of issues surrounding the provision of sport opportunities to young men from a western Canadian inner-city

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Abstract

Objectives:

The purpose of this study was to examine issues surrounding the provision of sport opportunities to young men from inner-city areas of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. More specifically, the research question was: What are the benefits, constraints, and opportunities associated with providing sport programs to young men from inner-city areas?

Design:

Ethnography.

Methods:

Data were collected via 15 months of participant observation and interviews with 12 youth workers who were responsible for the provision of various sport programs to young inner-city dwellers. Analysis was framed around personal, social, and structural issues.

Results:

At a personal level sport provided young men with an outlet for overcoming boredom and a temporary reprieve from the conditions of their daily lives. At a social level sport provided opportunities for relationship building between the youth workers and the young men. However, enduring structural constraints associated with economic and social inequality and the lack of a coordinated approach to the delivery of services restricted the influence that sport could have in the lives of the young men.

Conclusion:

This study provided some precise understandings of the benefits, constraints, and opportunities associated with providing sport programs to members of specific populations in certain inner-city circumstances. Findings, therefore, have the potential to inform public health policy concerning the use of sport-for-development programming in such contexts.

Highlights

▸ We examined sport opportunities provided to young men from a Canadian inner-city. ▸ We used an ethnographic approach and conducted interviews with youth workers. ▸ Sport provided opportunities for overcoming boredom and relationship building. ▸ Enduring structural barriers and lack of an integrated approach restricted the benefits of sport.

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