Sport searching for ‘us’ (14) – social inequality is becoming increasingly noticeable in sport

Boy playing soccer alone on the street in front of a graffiti wall (imago/blickwinkel)

Gronaud became famous for its prefabricated buildings and later for the serious decline in population. Today, the Leipzig region is growing again. Low-income families in particular can still find affordable housing here. According to the social report of the city of Leipzig for 2020, 30 percent of the population under the age of 15 depends on basic security – children and young people with whom social worker Martina Luk has to do.

Poverty condemns negativity

“They have a burning desire to exercise, they want to exercise and it’s not okay for us to tell families that you have to do it, eat healthy and exercise, but don’t present opportunities at all.” Martina Luke deals with prejudice before they even sit down at the negotiating table. Too often the consequences of poverty are interpreted as the cause. Locke explains that the poor are doomed to be passive, not the other way around.

Boy playing soccer alone on the street in front of a graffiti wall

Dinkfabrik 2021 – Sports in search of “we”
DeutschlandRadio’s “Think Center” is dedicated to identity issues this year. In modern sport, the question has been asked for more than a hundred years: who is allowed to participate and who is excluded? Sometimes it is about social background, sometimes about national conflicts or simply about power and money.

The Bertelsmann Foundation agrees. In a dossier on child poverty, he stated: The material provision of children in the Basic Security has improved somewhat in the past five years, but families in the SGB II reference sometimes suffer from significant shortfalls in supply, especially in the areas of mobility, leisure and community participation.

The green areas between the prefab buildings in Grünau invite only fun and play at first sight. Luke says.

“scissors open”

Overweight and obesity are the main manifestations of insufficient exercise. There are still many invisible physical and mental illnesses that can also be attributed to a lack of exercise, says Professor Wieland Kiss. He is the head of the University Pediatric Clinic in Leipzig and is conducting a long-term study of so-called lifestyle diseases and their causes in child development.

“The gap is widening. What do I mean by that? Whereas a hundred years ago children from all walks of life were still on the move, today children from more difficult socioeconomic backgrounds are less active than children who do well. Yes, one can even talk about groups at risk now. Statistically, according to Pediatrician Kiss, the link between specific diseases and the socioeconomic status of adolescents can now be established,” says Kiss.

Social inequality at different levels

The Children and Youth Sports Report 2020 also notes that social inequality is becoming increasingly noticeable in sports. Publisher Christoph Breuer, sociologist, sports economist and university lecturer at the German Sports University in Cologne:

Social inequality in sports is noticeable at different levels, first of all the behavior of the movement as such. We can trace that children and young people from socially difficult situations are less physically active. They are also less frequent members of sports clubs. And this continues only with regard to sports. Various strong economic entry barriers, as we call them, just exist.

“The more expensive the sport in terms of fees, equipment, etc., the fewer children from poor backgrounds,” says Breuer. “That’s why I prefer to talk about a partial failure of the club and the market.” Because sports are still one of the most socially penetrable areas. Means: social class, social class or socio-economic origin is less important and this is exactly what should remain the mission of sports facilities.

Social enterprises that offer sports shows are popular

A person receiving social benefits is entitled to a so-called “educational package” under certain conditions. Fifteen euros subsidy for membership in a sports club, for example. Sports performances prepared for this purpose are listed on the website of the city of Leipzig. It is remarkable that in addition to sports clubs, there are at least several social organizations that offer sports shows.

“One of the kids I’ve supported for the past six years is at the club. He actually practices karate because he wants to become a karate teacher himself. But this is one of the calmer people, who manages to focus,” Martina Luc reports. Others were expelled from clubs because they did not meet certain expectations.

Also, parents in precarious circumstances will not have the opportunity to take on leadership services or other volunteer tasks. After the financial aspect, the main problem is the pressure on performance and adjustment. The difference:

I think you can’t be any different in sports. That’s why so many attend child and youth work and live there. You can also play soccer, play basketball, and ski.

Sharing depends on charity

When sports clubs find it difficult to access, social work intervenes, as can be seen in many places. “Because the clubs simply cannot assess how they approach the target group, because there is a lack of personnel and concepts for them. Then the focus is more on promoting the sport,” says Paul Ehrenburg. He is director of programs for Safe Hub, a social enterprise that will be launching on an educational and sports campus in Leopoldplatz later this year – in one of the poorest areas of Berlin’s Wedding district.

“This is exactly where we want to start, because we can see that the need for sport and educational opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged people is increasing,” Ehrenburg says. Almost the concept of Safe Hub: Sports facilitate access to children and youth and at the same time are a means of imparting social skills. Here they are selected and given individual support: boys and girls from socially disadvantaged families.

The exuberant slogan “Recognize social change now!” On the homepage, he announces donations to the Safe-Hub at Leopoldplatz. Sports brands, UEFA, DFB organisations, ex-football players and the Child Protection Association are already partners. This is also an expression of social change: sharing that depends on charity.

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