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Student Sport For Sale

Recent media reports indicating that the rights to broadcast certain student sport competitions have been sold by New Zealand secondary school sport’s governing body, underscores the increasing alarm over decreasing teenage participation in sport and the flow-on impact for community sports clubs.

While this Association suggests that developing a “love of the game” should be the primary factor behind secondary schools offering sporting opportunities to their students, it also understands the attraction for schools to maximise commercial opportunities arising from fostering a high-performance environment which invites media attention. However if students are placed under pressure to perform in the sporting arena at a cost to their broader education and social development, they may simply choose to opt-out of school and community club sport altogether.

Observing that the Education Act 1989 makes no reference to sport and that the Education Ministry’s Health and Physical Education curriculum highlights the purpose of students’ involvement in sport as “contributing to the well-being of those around them, of their communities, of their environments, and of wider society”, the Association wonders if all secondary school students and their families are aware that their sporting performances are now potentially being monetised?

Given that state and state-integrated schools are required to provide free education and free enrolment, the Association believes that the question of who benefits from the sale of student sport performances (across all sports) is one which requires urgent attention from schools, from the Ministry of Education and from Sport New Zealand.

Moreover, as the majority of secondary school students are minors under law, the Association notes that schools have both an explicit and implied obligation to protect their students from harm, (including media exploitation).

Is the purpose of sport in schools to form citizens for community benefit, or to produce athletes for commercial benefit?

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