Disability Sport Info

High-Performance Sport: Management and Governance of Parasport

February 19, 2023 Dr Chris Brown Season 4 Episode 3
High-Performance Sport: Management and Governance of Parasport
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Disability Sport Info
High-Performance Sport: Management and Governance of Parasport
Feb 19, 2023 Season 4 Episode 3
Dr Chris Brown

In this episode, I speak with Professor David Legg to understand how Parasport can be managed and governed. 

We discuss what Parasport is and how nations have approached the management of sport for elite athletes with impairments. We consider how the efficiency of Parasport management and governance can be improved. Finally, we turn our attention to the future of Parasport and the most important factors that will shape future management and governance. 

Thanks for listening to the Disability Sport Info show!

Please email disabilitysportinfo@gmail.com to share your feedback. I'd love to hear from you.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, I speak with Professor David Legg to understand how Parasport can be managed and governed. 

We discuss what Parasport is and how nations have approached the management of sport for elite athletes with impairments. We consider how the efficiency of Parasport management and governance can be improved. Finally, we turn our attention to the future of Parasport and the most important factors that will shape future management and governance. 

Thanks for listening to the Disability Sport Info show!

Please email disabilitysportinfo@gmail.com to share your feedback. I'd love to hear from you.

High-Performance Sport: Management & Governance of Parasport



Speaker: Dr Christopher Brown (Presenter – University of Hertfordshire, UK) 

Speaker: Professor David Legg (Participant – Mount Royal University, Canada)

[00:00:29] Dr Christopher Brown: Welcome David. Thank you for joining today to discuss the management and governance of Parasport. Always good to have returning guests on the show, . , I want to really just talk about what Parasport is, how we can manage it, some of the governance approaches.

Now for listeners who aren't aware, David has a unique perspective. 

[00:00:38] Professor David Legg: Well, I've attended Paralympic games in a variety of, uh, administrative roles and responsibilities, but as an able-bodied person.

 I was the president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, but Bob Steadward was of course the founding president of the International Paralympic Committee and my mentor, um, and my supervisor for my PhD when I moved to the University of Alberta in Edmonton. 

[00:01:08] Dr Christopher Brown: You wear many hats and those hats will be useful today for our discussion. So I think just to kick off, what is Parasport? 

[00:01:15] Professor David Legg: I think you started with the most difficult question. Well, maybe it's not that difficult, but I think I would say adapted physical activity is perhaps the bigger, broader umbrella term, which would then include: fitness, physical education, recreation, leisure across all impairments. And then you know that would also then include sport for persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Although people in the Deaf community, in the Deaf culture might take exception to that and suggest that they do not fit within adaptive physical activity. I would say adaptive physical activity would then include sport and recreation for persons with intellectual disability, developmental delay, impairments such as autism.

Parasport for many people would probably then categorise sport and recreation for persons with a physical disability or a mobility impairment, like visual impairment. But this is where it gets tricky to kind of have a hard line in that the Paralympic system now includes, and has included individuals with intellectual disability for a number of years, whereas many people might have said that the parasport system excluded that.

And so I, I, I think this, that what is defined as Parasport is constantly evolving. And it's grey. I'm not sure there are hard lines that you can put around it insofar as exactly what it is. And in my own opinion, I'm not sure it really makes a lot of difference in a practical setting insofar as people's understanding and just the actual, you know, the programming side of things on the ground. So parasport, I think for many people would probably gear towards the sports that you would see in Paralympic sports.

So primarily, those that have a physical disability or a mobility disability. The question then becomes, well, where does the line get drawn between recreation and grassroots community Parasport and high-performance parasport. So where does competition at a high-performance level begin and end? Is participating in a Commonwealth Games, now you're a high-performance athlete? Is a para Pan-American, is a national championships? And the evolution of Parasport and adapted physical activity is such that the steps between grassroots and community sport and recreation and high-performance sport are sometimes not very big, still to this day.

Whereas in other sports, they are much more sophisticated and complicated. And so I think as a whole, it's really hard to have kind of definitions and terms that are gonna be accepted and understood and true in every context. That's a long answer to a short question.

[00:03:41] Dr Christopher Brown: It, it's, but you, you've navigated a tricky question first up quite well. So congrats for that. I think that's a fine point you make in terms of, you know, that it is not consistent throughout the system. Certain sports are more, maybe more refined and developed than others when it comes to the pathway and the management.

You get that to a certain extent, of course, in able-bodied sport, but it's probably more exacerbated in a Parasport context, I think it's fair to say. 

[00:04:04] Professor David Legg: Yeah, I, yeah. So I would agree. And I, and part of that might just be evolution and so the Parasport system, the adapted physical activity system is arguably, you know, less than a hundred years old, certainly. And maybe, you know, if you were to suggest that it started post World War II, well we're, you know, we're only kind of 70 years in, and so that's not that long of a time when we're talking about a relatively smaller population base, then the able-bodied system.

And so I, I think that's to be expected and perhaps even the growth and evolution is beyond what would've been reasonably expected. And so maybe we were ahead of the curve in so far as our development and evolution. 

[00:04:42] Dr Christopher Brown: So when we're thinking about how to manage Parasport and, I've air-quoted Parasport, which obviously listeners can't see, but Parasport with that kind of loose term that we've just, uh, talked about, so when we're thinking think about the stakeholders involved, who are they? And are there certain power dynamics or involvement that we need to be aware of from certain stakeholders? And how does it differ from able-bodied sport? 

[00:05:06] Professor David Legg: Yeah, I mean, well there's lots of stakeholders. And they all come to the system with different lived experiences and attitudes and expectations and, so I think that complicates it.

But in, in a way that, again, is, is okay and it's, it's both the pro and the con of working in the system that I love. But I also find really, really challenging is trying to consider and address all of the varied stakeholders opinions. And so first and foremost, we have the individual with the lived experience, who's the participant.

Disability is not a homogeneous collection of individuals. No population is, but perhaps disability, that's even more exacerbated. And so the lived experience of an individual with a spinal cord injury versus someone with a visual impairment versus someone with a developmental delay like that, they're just, they're very different.

But yet we lump them all under the one umbrella of impairment or disability. And then we try to treat them as a homogeneous group and try to do programming and a governance, that is going to address all of the, all of their needs.

And that's just not reasonable. So there's that one stakeholder, and that's just one. And then you add in all the others, the more traditional sports system in and of itself. So the quote unquote able-bodied system that is, you know, trying to be inclusive and equitable and accessible and create that sense of belonging.

And I'd like to think for the most part they're benevolent and that they are, they are wanting to do a good job. At some many cases, they, they perhaps don't know how to, or they, you know, they don't have the capacity or the resources to, in their opinion, do a great job. And so they avoid it. 

So there's that whole stakeholder group of the system that's already existing trying to include and bring in persons with impairment. There's parents, there's teachers in the school system, there's government leaders, there's sponsors: it's a galaxy of different stakeholders that all have touchpoints on the system itself. The list of stakeholders is long and it's complicated. 

[00:07:06] Dr Christopher Brown: There's some really interesting points that I wanna pick up on there. So I really like your phrasing about the galaxy of stakeholders. I think that's a neat summary. 

We can't cover everything. We don't have the time or the headspace to be able to deal with everyone. So primarily in this chat, we're probably gonna be focusing more on policy-makers and the kind of classic sports stakeholders, you know, national governing bodies Paralympic associations, those kind of organisations.

General elite sport stakeholder involvement is quite complex. It's the same with Parasport of course. Um, and obviously there's some, you know, unique qualities to that. What about how we think about Parasport when we're looking at how it's governed? Now, obviously, it can be different from each country and different systems are used. But from your experience and from your perspective, what are the kind of typical governance approaches to high-performance Parasport?

[00:07:55] Professor David Legg: Well, I think, and I would guess in and around the nineties, this happened in a lot of countries where, you know, governments started to mandate inclusive policies and inclusive practices in education. And you know, you saw the end of specialised schools and you saw more inclusive education practices where children with impairment were included.

And I'm using quotation marks, "into the classrooms". And then the same thing happened in kind of the social recreation sports systems. And so governments mandated to national sport governing bodies, and that certainly happened in Canada. Um, so Swimming Canada, I think was the first who kind of put their hand up and said that they wanted to pursue that route where they would be responsible for all athletes at both and you know, certainly the high-performance level at the Olympic and at the Paralympic level. And so then you saw a cascading effect with most national sport governing bodies now, you know, kind of taking that on that responsibility. But how they did it, there was a bit of a mishmash of approaches, bit of a dog's breakfast of, you know, do you hire a specific individual to be responsible for all of the programmes and all of the services for all athletes with an impairment? Or do you have the marketing person be responsible for able-bodied and disabled and the, you know, the high-performance sport person, be responsible for both, et cetera, et cetera?

And so, and I'm not really sure which of those varied approaches actually were the best. I think it's in many cases just been dependent on the individuals that were responsible for these things and just how well-intentioned and motivated and educated they were on providing the appropriate programmes and services and leadership in that context. Where we, we Canada ran into challenges, and I would suspect and suggest that this has probably been similar in other countries and other jurisdictions, is that this didn't happen in a coordinated or kind of a strategic way insofar as the system goes.

And so the national sport organisations were tasked with this and were told and were mandated that you have to do this. If you want to get funding from the federal government, this is what you're gonna do. But that didn't necessarily then translate at the provincial or the state level, and that didn't necessarily translate at the civic, local grassroots level.

And so, for the last 25 years, we've had this kind of complexity of oversight and governance and policy that have not been coordinated or the same in the different jurisdictional levels and the different sport levels and the different disability levels. And so what we've resulted in is this highly complex and an unrelated system where when you come in at this level, and this is the organization and this is the group that would be responsible for your programming. And then you would go to this level and it's a totally different stream and system, and then you might come back over here. And again, it's a totally different stream and system who's responsible for the next level, and they tend not to connect and communicate. I think they, I think they do their best, but again, it's such a complicated system to ensure communication and systems and expectations are translated from one group to the next is really, really difficult. And so from the perspective of the participant and a coach and or a classifier or administrator, it's quite daunting to figure out and to kind of wayfind your way from point A to point B.

So I would say that we're still kind of going through that system. If, you know, if we could go back and just blow it up and start from scratch. Then I think we could do a much better job of kind of setting it up and ensuring that everybody is on the same page and going forward. But, you know, clearly we can't do that.

And so we have to constantly try to adapt and adjust. You know, it's the proverbial building the plane as it's flying. And so we're constantly trying to adjust and update it and, make it more seamless than it is. But again that's not easy to do.

[00:11:59] Dr Christopher Brown: No. And as you've pointed out the area's only really become a focus or a kind of area of interest after able bodied systems have been established: they're not gonna just completely start from scratch.

They obviously will adapt existing practices, but then that's created the fragmentation and perhaps inefficiencies that are sometimes seen in the governance. So, how do we make it more efficient? Easy question, right? Come on. How do we make it more efficient? 

[00:12:26] Professor David Legg: Yeah. Just like this!

 I think the coordination of the different levels of government would be helpful, whereby you had a federal and a state, provincial/provincial civic governments all come together and agree that the system was going to be managed and mandated and organised the same way. And that organisations would then be held accountable and responsible for those things with real teeth to it.

And not just like, oh, you know, whatever. I think that could be one step. I almost wonder if we try to do too much you know, like, Canada, I would say is a quite an egalitarian society where, you know, we want to try to please everybody all the time. And, you know, make sure that everybody has full choice to do whatever.

You know, in some cases, I, there might be advantages to being maybe a bit more. I might live to regret what I'm about to say, but I sometimes wonder if we'd be better off if we just limited choice. And because then we would have more people to participate in smaller numbers of sports that we could then do a better job of organising and managing as opposed to the plethora.

And even like, like the Paralympic sports that we have, there are now hundreds of other options for people to participate in, adapted or, you know, adapted physical activity options, which is great for somebody who really, really, really wants to do skydiving as a person with a spinal cord injury, or, or, you know, like, like whatever's not on the Paralympic programme surfing or something like that.

But because we have, you know, a couple people here and a couple people there, and a couple people there, it's just because of the sheer volume of people that are interested in participating. It just doesn't allow you to, to create these sophisticated like complex systems. It's, you know, volunteer here, volunteer there, volunteer there. And so yeah if we could have gone back and just only said there are only 10, there are only 10 sporting options for people with impairment.

That might have made it easier and, and better, you know, for those who were participating in those sports. But again that ship has sailed, so I can't change that. So how do I make it better? Uh, I that, listen, I've been wrestling with that for the last 30 years of my professional career, and I haven't come up with a good answer yet.

[00:14:40] Dr Christopher Brown: You can't distil what you've been doing for 30 years into two minutes!? Come on, David, you're losing your touch! That's kind of hinting about the tension that you get for the kind of sport for all philosophy where everyone should have the opportunity to participate versus actually you're trying to get a very focused, targeted approach to try and winning medals or, you know, trying to be better at the elite perspective.

They don't always necessarily mesh very well together. 

[00:15:03] Professor David Legg: No, no. Agreed. Yeah. Yeah. They are somewhat binary in that, they don't have the same systems and goals. So maybe in my answer to the question you just asked where I was saying if we had limited sports, that was kind of the high-performance hat that I had on Exactly, exactly.

In so far as, you know, if, if we wanted to have gold medals from a Canadian context, that would've been a better system for us if we had been more specialised or focused on a particular number of sports. But from the participant's perspective in the desire to play lots of different sports and, if you took the high-performance side out of it and you just wanted to be active and engaged in your community, then the system that we have where we are promoting a wide swathe of opportunities is perhaps a better one.

And maybe the two can coexist where you could participate in a variety of sports at the grassroots level and then you, maybe you specialise and you focus on one to then perform at a high-performance level. Maybe there's that opportunity too. And perhaps that's the next evolution of the Parasport system, is that we get to that point where, you know, people with impairment are fully included in the entire grassroots sport and recreation system. They're able to participate and play in any number of activities and are welcomed and have appropriate coaching and access to facilities. And then if they so choose to focus on a high-performance side, they then have the avenues and the opportunities to do that too. Maybe that's pollyannish and it'll never happen. But I guess maybe if I could say that that's the end goal that we're trying to, you know, pick away at and get to. Maybe that's it. 

[00:16:35] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, exactly. And that's part of the kind of maturity and maturing aspect of the, the whole system, you know, still obviously relatively new when comparing it to able-bodied.

And obviously for able-bodied systems there's still a lot of complexity and inefficiency there too. So it's not all perfect. 

So, governments obviously play a very big role in terms of supporting elite sport. You know, either they put a lot of money in or they don't, or then maybe they have a particular viewpoint about where money should be going. Maybe it should be sport for all, maybe it should be high-performance, but they obviously play a key role.

So how do governments actually influence Parasport and potential success at the Paralympics? And are there any examples that you wanna draw upon as a kind of best practice? Or, alternatively, not good practice? 

[00:17:19] Professor David Legg: I'll start with kind of the how first, I guess. I think part of it is the accountability and the responsibility to do appropriate programming and the use of public dollars. And so if taxpayer dollars are going towards national sport organisations for the purposes of, you know, creating systems or managing teams, and part of their mandate is to do the same for athletes with a disability and also able-bodied athletes, they need to be held accountable for that. And part of it is just the capacity of governments to, you know, kind of watchdog this and to ensure that things actually happen and take place is the follow up. And so I think governments are good at, you know, asking and requesting that things happen, but I think less effective on the actual policing of it and the follow up and you know, if the carrot and stick approach. So if, if it's not happening, you know, the funding is pulled or the funding needs to be returned or those sort of things. 

So I think that's one of the steps that governments can do. I think that's, I guess that's more of the stick approach. And then the carrot is the, encouraging them and, and helping them understand the benefits of doing so, recognising that potentially there's greater sponsorship opportunities. The Toyotas of the world, for instance, are wanting to support organisations and programmes and services that are inclusive and equitable in their approach. So, you know, if a national sport governing body wants to be able to access some of these large multinational corporations from a financial perspective outside of the government funding, they're gonna have to do this.

And so governments can do them a service by allowing them and enabling them to understand that and to then access other funding outside of just the, you know, the small pockets of government funding. 

 I knew you were gonna ask me about, you know, benchmarks and good examples. And I gotta be honest with you, I think Canada is my own home country, and so I, I think they do a pretty good job.

And comparatively speaking, I would say perhaps better than most insofar as kind of their support of, you know, marginalised, quote unquote, marginalised populations, whether that's disability, gender, sexual orientation, indigenous, aboriginal, first Nations. I would say that, that's a focus of our systems and our funding. And right now, there's a, there's a real, uh, focus on safe sport and ensuring that, you know, athletes and, and coaches are able to participate in the sport system in a safe and welcoming in an appropriate way. And so I would say that our government is strong in those systems. But the actual practice of it is sometimes harder.

So to come up with a theory and to come up with the policy is one thing to implement it in the grassroots level is, is sometimes different. I think where we struggle is the sheer size of our country.

 You know, again, in a country that has five time zones and a population really of only 35 million people, economies of scale is, is difficult to manage in two official languages. Um, and so it's, it's difficult to sometimes manage the jurisdictional piece of it. So that I think that makes it difficult to implement policies. Like sometimes I'm a little jealous of countries the size of the Netherlands, for instance, you know, where you can drive from one side to the other in a couple of hours, it seems. And so you can connect people better together and you can coordinate things I think much more easily. I, I mean, that's my assumption and, you know, um, maybe it's not the case and maybe there are other barriers that make it difficult to implement policies at the, you know, the grassroots level. But, so I, I had a hard time, I had a hard time coming up with a specific example. You know, the US and other countries have moved to a shared national system, the US OPC, so the United States, Olympic and Paralympic committees. I'm not sure that's the best model.

So Canada still has a Canadian Paralympic committee and a Canadian Olympic Committee, and they work well together on shared initiatives. But, I'm biased too, right? I'm a past president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. I don't know if a merger would be in the best interests of athletes with impairment in a Canadian context.

 I don't know that. And so I don't know if one system is better than the other. So I had a hard time coming up with an example, um, for that second part of your question. 

[00:21:31] Dr Christopher Brown: It's not, it's not necessarily, uh, an easy question to answer. And also we don't necessarily have the answer at this stage.

 The theme of our conversation so far is that there's still development to happen in terms of the system, but that's true across all sport, I'd say, in terms of the elite aspect, it's still a lot of development to happen.

For those who are of a UK interest or UK focus, we do have the difference between Paralympic Association and Olympic Association. So that's the clear divide. We also had an approach called the no compromise approach to funding, which was essentially where UK Sport would use government money, money from the National Lottery, to fund sports that they felt were gonna have a realistic chance of winning a medal.

And then when you talk about the policing of it, they were saying that basically if you didn't meet the target, you potentially have it reduced or pulled altogether, but if you did well, you might get more money, et cetera. Now this led to very good success for Team GB and Paralympics GB. But it also was criticised because basically there was a haves and a haves nots, and created quite a short-termist approach.

You know, you were always pretty much going to try and meet the funding targets, otherwise you didn't have the money. And for a lot of sports that were very dependent on UK Sport's funding. So it's kind of been changed now. So that was a kind of a clear approach. It had brought success but also brought criticism and it kind of leading on to my next question.

So thanks for listening to the monologue so far, to extend the monologue, what I would say is that, in academia, there is a theory, or at least a model, to try and suggest how governments can influence high-performance sport systems. Now, you, David will know about this. It's called the SPLISS model. So for those who aren't aware, SPLISS stands for sport policy factors leading to international sporting success.

The authors fully accepted and admitted that probably 'leading' was a little bit ironically misleading and actually perhaps would be more about contributing to potential success. The idea is basically governments or a funding body put money into the system. That's an input. And then how you invest that money is important.

So you need to have a broad base. You need to identify and develop talent. You need to support athletes. You need to give them training facilities, have coach supply and education. You also need to have competitions for athletes to be able to hone their skills and craft, and sport science and innovation support.

And now those are the areas that policy-makers can make a difference. Is that the case for Parasport in terms of using the SPLISS model? 

[00:23:57] Professor David Legg: I was involved with the SPLISS study, from a Canadian perspective, with the original study that Dr. De Bosscher led in 2004, and then the second iteration in and around 2012, and over that time actually it evolved from a focus on just the able-bodied system in 2004. And what was interesting is when I was actually participating in the study, I presumed high performance athletes meant Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and that had never been discussed fully with all of the six original kind of partners to it.

Anyways, over time it evolved to include Paralympic athletes, but I would say the majority of the model was developed with an able-bodied system in mind. And then Dr. Patatas has tried to look at whether or not this would be applicable in a Paralympic context. And I would say for the most part it is. And now I also think it's worth recognising though, that, you know, there was recognition that medal success is also highly dependent on, you know, a country's kind of socioeconomic status, generally speaking, and population size. Um, and so those two things in and of themselves account for a pretty big chunk of, you know, medal success for countries. You can't impact that. I mean, as a sport administrator, I can't increase population of my country. And I can't really impact the socioeconomic kind of, where my country sits from a GDP perspective. But what I can influence are the items that you talked about, the different pillars within the system that we can influence from, you know, if you looked at the system as a factory, a machine, right? The input and then what you do in the factory and then the output. And so the things that you just listed off were all those things that happened in the factory that lead to the output of quote, unquote more medals, I would say for the most part. Yeah. Those are the same things that should and could lead to medal success.

So the sport policies leading to, international sporting success, I would say that they are very similar, if not the same in an able-bodied context to a disability Parasport context. The complexity though is, so for instance, the one example that you talked about, well, you could probably go through all of them, you know, coaching as an example.

And so, you know, in a Canadian context, there's a robust coaching evolution system from grassroots to high-performance. And so far, as you know, coaches learn at the earliest grassroots level. They have to take these courses to allow them to be a coach of their six year-old in a local football, soccer programme.

But at the disability system, it's not quite as clear insofar as entry and then progression throughout. And so that's, you know, I would suspect that coaching is a pretty important pillar within the Parasport context for medal success, but the system that actually allows that to happen isn't as well defined or as kind of well, well arranged at the moment. We're working on it. I mean, we're picking away at it bit by bit. The other one would be the grassroots system. And so, you know, we talked about earlier how physical education was done in specialised schools in the eighties and the nineties, and then it transitioned into a more inclusive system.

And I would argue that that has failed our children with impairments from a physical literacy and a fundamental motor skill perspective in that they're just, they're not participating in physical education, they're just sitting off on the side. And that's a whole other conversation. But nonetheless an effective grassroots system where children with impairment are learning multiple physical literacy skills and sports skills, and then able to participate in a variety of activities would be one of the pillars leading to sporting success.

So I would say that the pillars themselves, if you just itemised them, are the right ones. But you're not comparing apples to apples insofar as the able-bodied system to the Parasport system with those pillars. 

[00:28:03] Dr Christopher Brown: Exactly. And also the point you made about socioeconomic factors and kind of, you know, population size, there are, not to get too technical for listeners, but there are macro and micro factors that can also influence success. So macro would be kind of wider external things like the population size, GDP - gross domestic product of a country -, the kind of political system. The geography perhaps of the nation. And the micro kind of looks at the athlete, the kind of individual bit, talent, genetics, the support network for the athlete, et cetera. And I never know how to say the next one - is it meso or meso level? Whatever you prefer. That is where the SPLISS model kind of lies. So that's where in theory we do have some influence, like David said. So that's where policy-makers can make a difference. 

So yeah, I mean, I would agree, you know, based on what my limited knowledge compared to you, but. It's always, it's gonna be less developed. I'd say some of those pillars. And then also you've got those unique factors, like how big is the disability population within that country? What are the attitudes towards disabled people in terms of society? How much heritage has that country got in terms of accessibility and also involvement in Parasport, you know, that could also play a role. So the UK has been from the beginning in terms of the Paralympics, some other nations probably a little bit later, et cetera. 

So yeah, there's lots of complexity, and obviously government play an important role and there are, um, just kind of different factors that we've talked about. 

So probably bringing the conversation to a close. Now, we've talked about some of the challenges. We've alluded to that. Where do we see Parasport governance and management going in the future? So in the kind of next few years, what kind of developments do you think potentially will happen and what should happen if they are potentially different? 

[00:29:42] Professor David Legg: I would say there are a number of evolutions that are happening outside of sport that will ultimately have an impact on the Parasport system.

And so one I think is this focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion and justice. Perhaps if you wanted to include that as one of the terms as well. And so I think there's a reckoning and a recognition. In a Canadian context, we talk about reconciliation as it relates to aboriginal, indigenous, First Nations persons, but I would say that that's happening with other marginalised populations as well. And I think this is happening outside of sport too, where we're recognising the value and the importance of a more inclusive society. So I think that's number one. 

I think number two is just the rapid evolution of technology. And I think that will be a game changer and has been a game-changer as it relates to the inclusion of individuals with impairments. This idea of technology enabling people to do certain things is like, yeah, it's, it's unbelievable to think about the future and whether it's artificial intelligence, whether it's virtual reality, augmented reality, technology as it relates to prosthetics and sport wheelchairs, and the ability for an individual with that impairment to compete equitably, if not with an advantage against the person who's able-bodied, I think that's a game-changer in the next 20 or 30 years. Could really change the way we look at sport and competition. And I think there's gonna be a, you know, this idea of doping, I think is gonna evolve very quickly from, you know, a use of steroids or blood transfusions to technology. I think the next 10 to 15, 20 years, that's gonna be a real game-changer insofar as how people with impairment compete against able bodied athletes. So I think the technology piece of it is also a massive game-changer. 

And then the third one I would argue is just the globalisation of everything. And so, you know, countries operating in isolation, I think it just doesn't happen anymore. Ideas and, uh, concepts are just free-flowing from one context to the other. And so, you know what suddenly becomes a good idea in one country is going to very quickly, you know, translate into another.

And so I would say that the curve of change is going to happen rapidly as well insofar as just the exchange of ideas. So I think those three things are really gonna change the governance and the model of Parasport and adapted physical activity. In some cases for the good. But again, it's, it's hard to predict too how some of these are gonna impact the delivery and the actual day-to-day practical, you know, application of sport and recreation at the grassroots level.

I think that's important for policy-makers and academics and practitioners to kind of keep their eye on it and make sure that, you know, the changes that are happening are for the better. 

[00:32:41] Dr Christopher Brown: There actually is an episode about technology and innovation in Parasport. So do catch that one with Bryce. He talked about, or we talked about during the episode, 3D printing, you know, is of making the ability to get prosthesis more readily accessible. You know, one of the barriers for some countries was, you know, the cost, of course. Obviously that's potentially gonna be an issue, but that is getting cheaper, more accessible, uh, than than ever before.

And yeah, it's gonna be some interesting ethical and moral dilemmas about what we cons consider to be. Too much of a technological advantage and what potentially is considered cheating or is, you know, kind of assisting. So that will be interesting to see. So yeah, I think it's some really interesting points there and I think it's a fine way to end.

You know, we look to the future, we can't be wrong yet, so that's always good! 

[00:33:32] Professor David Legg: That's the best job in the world as being a futurist. 

[00:33:34] Dr Christopher Brown: Yeah, moan about this episode in 20 years time. We'll see if we actually care! But yeah, no, they're obviously gonna be, and also I'd like, I think also to point out that.

Athlete welfare is gonna be becoming even more of an important topic. I think as we go, you know, when athletes become more empowered and feel more empowered to speak out about their experiences that's gonna inform coach education. It's gonna inform administrators in terms of how they actually are gonna be managing the system.

So I think that's also gonna be something which potentially can hopefully change the system for the better. 

All right. Well, David, always a pleasure. Always a pleasure to catch up and have a chat, and I appreciate you in the early hours of your morning spending time with me chatting about management and governance of Parasport.

So yeah, thank you ever so much. I look forward to catching up with you soon. 

[00:34:22] Professor David Legg: All right, take care. 

[00:34:24] Dr Christopher Brown: Excellent. Cheers.

*** Discussion ends ***

[00:34:26] Dr Christopher Brown: That’s it. That’s all we have time for. Thanks for listening to another episode of the Disability Sport Info show. Stay tuned for another episode. Until then. Goodbye. 


What is Parasport?
Parasport stakeholders
Parasport governance
Efficiency of Parasport management and governance
Role of government
Micro, macro and meso factors
Future of Parasport management and governance