Sport is Not for All: The Transformative (Im)possibilities of Sport for Young Disabled People

  • Hayley Fitzgerald


In the UK, since the 1970s, the mantra of ‘Sport for All’ has gained significant momentum in policy and practice. At a strategic level the Council of Europe continues to advocate its collective support for a ‘sport for all principle’. Relatedly, there has been important progress associated with the rights of disabled people in different spheres of life including sport. Taken together these developments have inspired some commentators to assert that the world of sport is now a much better place for disabled people to occupy. By drawing on data generated over the past ten years from a range of research projects, this chapter interrogates the mantra of sport for all by focusing on the transformative (im)possibilities of sport for young disabled people. The chapter begins by considering how sport for all is most frequently enacted in order to increase participation by disabled people. Consideration is then given to a number of alternative approaches that could be initiated to promote sport for all. Attention is then given to what young disabled people can tell us about their experiences of sport for all. After this, a number of enduring issues that remain the nemesis of sport for all for young disabled people are discussed including: (a) committed guardians preserving the exclusionary features of sport; (b) a sports infrastructure promoting separation rather than inclusion; and (c) prominence of a normative non-disabled body. In concluding, I argue that the mantra of sport for all will continue to have limited success unless sport begins to more fully interrogate its relationship with young disabled people.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hayley Fitzgerald
    • 1
  1. 1.Leeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

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