Training, selection, peaking, workloads, etc. are common notions associated with our growth-oriented, capitalist society. However, these concepts are also inherent in elite sport as well, where ‘the winner takes all’. Thus the logic of modern sport resembles the capitalist milieu in which it has evolved: individualism, competitiveness, peak performance, and productivity are all essential components. Modern elite sport is also often depicted as being a remedy to society’s ills, making sport a linchpin of the population’s well-being: empowering control over health, educating people to reach their goals or serving as a good example for future generations. But there is a danger that modern sport is primarily becoming a tool for generating profit.
The aim of this paper is to formally examine how sport is related to the principles of degrowth, and its potential impact on subjective well-being. Health maintenance, enjoyment, cooperation and fun are also words which can be used to characterize sport. Using data on self-reported attitudes toward sport and in-depth interviews with Hungarian Olympians, sport-loving amateurs and sport-ignorants, we test the impact of elite sport on happiness. We hypothesize that the well-being factor associated with elite sport is questionable. The comparatively different attitudes toward sport which exist depend on qualifications, and the positive relationships between involvement in leisure sport and well-being for both males and females. We conclude that there is a potential role for leisure sport in spreading the idea of degrowth, while the problems of elite sport have much in common with the problems inherent in a growth-based society.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Sport and (de)growth: what type of competition makes us happier?“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.