Can you Measure the Power and Influence of a Sports Organisation?

Acronyms are both wonderful and terrible at the same time. On the one hand they allow for quick and efficient communication, whereas on the other hand they encourage somewhat lazy communication. It is acceptable in the present day to utter the letters LOL (laugh out loud) rather than make the effort to laugh. This abbreviated way of expressing ideas and emotions is common practice in academia; and a driver to my argument in an article I had published this past month.

A vignette of the publishing process within academia- the article I am about to summarise- is the result of over twelve months of research, a trip to an archive in Switzerland, countless hours of editing and a significant amount of mentoring by more senior academics. However, the most important lesson I am trying to learn is how to translate my research and publications to a wider audience. Consequently, the next few hundred words will give a brief overview to the 8000 contained in the article (free access for the first 50 readers available via this link).

Sport in most circumstances is the poor cousin, for example in science, economy or education. People believe sport can be used for good, development or wellbeing; however its actual power or influence is difficult to prove. The Diplomacy and Statecraft article aims to engage in this debate within the realms of diplomacy.

Diplomatic relations is a rapidly evolving platform, but simplistically it refers to the way in which countries conduct affairs at an international level. The amount of actors involved in diplomatic relations has grown consistently in the past half century as the traditional global make up changes. Reasons for this include advances in technology, development of international law and the opportunities to travel. As a consequence, actors such as, multi-national corporations (Coca-Cola), international government organisations (United Nations) or international non-government organisations (Oxfam) grow in significance and influence.

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A picture from my visit to the IOC archives.

Sports organisations are not over looked, and research has turned its attention to better understand what impact they can have on relations and global affairs. However, my frustration as a student was the number of acronyms and weak analysis placed upon sports organisations, as fundamentally it was difficult to measure their power. The article, therefore, explores the context of sport and diplomatic relations, and then proposes to use their impact on national and international law as a tool to better understand their power and influence. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the main focus, not only because the Olympics are a global international sporting spectacle, but also I had the opportunity to visit their archives in Lausanne, Switzerland last year.

I am not sure what I have learnt most whilst writing this article- the development around my thoughts of power and sports organisations, or the process and difficulty of publishing in an academic journal. Regardless I am indebted to a number of academics including Dr J. Simon Rofe and Dr Heather Dichter who organised the symposium around sport and diplomacy, and subsequently supported me in submitting my article.

Finally, if the topic and argument sounds of interest please have flick through and contact me for further discussion (v.postlethwaite@worc.ac.uk).

VPos

Postlethwaite, V. and Grix, J. (2016) Beyond the Acronyms: Sport Diplomacy and the Classification of the International Olympic Committee. Diplomacy & Statecraft, 27(2), pp.295-313.

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