Modernity, volunteers and sport
in the latinoamerican countries

Sergio Ricardo Quiroga (Argentina)
Director of the Centre for Olympic Studies José Benjamín Zubiaur in Argentina
and Researcher in Sport, Democracy and Communication
Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes |
revista digital | Buenos Aires | Año 5 - Nº 18 - Febrero 2000

     The industrial revolution in the 18th century boosted the economies of the countries comprising the North, which in turn had a significant impact of their social and cultural attitudes. Old and recent studies and surveys have highligted three main factor which are not available to the south development planning, elite programmes and grass root programmes. A number of other subsidiary factors militating against good perfomance in sport are unqualifield expert and coaches, poor federation activities, poor competitive opportunities, some equipment and facilities and some scientific medical support. For the latinoamerican sport elite this is a difficult situation. In general, two models of sport are usually regarded as the main axis or the main contradiction: sport of achievement on the one hand and fitness sport in the other.

     We must to think that the role of the volunteers is strategic in the mega sport event. Analogous to other countries, the latinoamerican countries have a lot of sport clubs - clubs for competitive sport activities where the members participate in tournaments, competitions, etc. However, the association and the volunteers are and international and social phenomenon.

     The proliferation of association is partly due to the fact that whenever the members of the association disagree, the association normally slits in two. Minority votes at the general assembly results in the splitting up of the association, and everybody is happier. Happier, because it is experience almost embarassing that somebody win over somebody else as is the case if a group votes.

     According to several economic theories, great homogeneity and a large public sector should result in a small voluntary nonprofit sector.

     First, the latinoamerican countries are not a very homogeneous society, ethnically as well as religiously. In some of them, the role of the women is poor. The situation is changing in the region.

     Second, Latinoamerica has a large public sector but generally the role of the state seems not to be more legitimate than in other countries. The corruption is the most popular face in some latinoamerican states.

     If these theories are true we should not find at large voluntary sector with lots of associations in Latinoamerica. Voluntary work is a central characteristic of voluntary associations, indeed perhaps that which primarily differentiates them from other types of organizations. Not just because voluntary work is an important resource on which the association and it is activities completely depend, but also because its a prerequisite for the ideals and principles on which association as such are based: democracy and friendship.

     The voluntary clubs and organizations has growing, but the society wait for the expansion of the welfare state and the development of the democracy, yet. The market is in this region in one mighty force.

     As an example of voluntary work and a local and regional cooperation, I will describe how the volunteers was work in the Panamerican Games in Mar del Plata, 1995. Furthermore, aproximately 400.000 hours of voluntary work was done. Mar del Plata 1995, was marvellous. The voluntary work was the main factor for the sucess of this Games.

     In the cultural literature, it is a widespread assumption that there are conflicts in the relationship between the public authorities and the voluntary sector and that the establishment of the welfare state has led to a general weakening of the voluntary sector.

     We need to think that the relationship of the people who wants to work as volunteers in the sport in general or in the mega sport events and the public sector and the sport event organization is characterised by cooperation, division of labour and reciprocal dependency. Is one simple and powerfull idea: cooperation.

     Historical researchs on the establishent of asociations and the clubs show that in many cases there were close contact and cooperation between the state, the sport organization and the sport volunteers as a dinamic force.

The contradiction between market and state
     But, Latinoamerica is one region of the contrasts. The process which includes some and excludes others appears to be the result of anonymous market forces. No individual institution or state, therefore, seems to bear the responsability for developments which may impoverish millions. The triumph of the market, both at the national and international levels, means that many of those in power no longer see gross inequality as a problem, but rather as vital to the efficiency of the economic system.

     This insistence on unfettered markets is a new trend, althought it does hard back to the 19th century. The traumatic experiences of the first half of the 20th century class struggle and two world warss led to the emergence of welfare states in the core of industrial countries. Attempts to extend welfare and state intervention to the developming world were linked to the system struggle in a bipolar world.

     One of the key problems of modernity is the tension between the principle of the rational economic and political organization and the infinitely varied desires of individuals and groups. In other words, we call it as the contradiction between the Net and the Self.

     Continual economic growth means ever-greater stress on natural resources and ecological systems. Markets forces can not prevent environment degradation, because decision of individual market player do not take account a long-term aggregate affects. National regulation is inadequate too, because deforestation, air-pollution and resource depletion are not constrained by borders. There can be not doubt of the need for suprational regulation, but the world has been slow in developing the necessary institutions.

Formation and Democracy
     The formation of groups is essential not only to the more formal side of team sports, but also to the recruitment of members to sport clubs and organizations that do not aim at attaining spectacular results or even team work but merely to motivate ordinary people to exercise. Therefore, it is important to know how groups and group formation are viewed in any particular culture in order to asses the possibilities and strategies inherent in the specific culture.

Volunteers Culture
     The latinoamerican sport organizations and the Nationals Olympics Committee needs work very hard in the education of the olympic leaders. One criterion for sucess I can suggest is the organization of educational courses in small groups. The volunteers feel that they are composed of people who are similar and who basically agree. This is a viewed as the ideal, not only in friendly groups at work or in social or cultural events among good friends. It is a viewed as a model of society, more democratic.

     The rational society in Europa and the rational society in Peru or Argentina do not share the everyday norms for normal behaviour. Thus, it is meaningful to study behaviour, ideas, norms and social cosmologies in modern society with the same means as the ones used for studying culture in remote lands.

     The volunteers are necessary in the sports events and the Olympic Games and culture in Latinoamerica not must only call football. Our communities, our people, need education and one best life. Only with this two conditions, we can believe that the region have to prepare for the mega sport events.

     The olympic volunteers has showed all the days how is the hard work and we can see that is one of the main forces of the Olympic family. In our activities, we can to do the best for the development of the olympic idea thinking in the new and complex changes.

     We can think in one modern Olympic Movement only with one great force: with the olympic volunteers, yet.

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revista digital · Año 5 · Nº 18 | Buenos Aires, febrero 2000  
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