Wheaton, B., Roy, G., & Olive, R. (2017). Exploring Critical Alternatives for Youth Development through Lifestyle Sport: Surfing and Community Development in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Sustainability, 9(12). https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122298
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11666
While competition-based team sports remain dominant in community and sport-for-development programs, researchers are exploring the value of alternative, less “sportized” activities such as lifestyle/action sports. In this paper, we explore the ways in which surfing is being used in development programs in Aotearoa/New Zealand, examining the perceived social benefits and impact. Our methods involved: (a) mapping the range of surfing projects; and (b) 8 in-depth interviews with program personnel. Widespread conviction in the positive developmental benefits of surfing was evident, and that surfing had a “special” capacity to reform or heal those who participate in it. However, the ways in which individuals’ self-developments were promoted appear to be following the traditional sport/youth development path. They focus on policies aimed at improved life chances, equipping youth with the tools for self-improvement and self-management, inculcating self-governance and self-reliance. However, a counter narrative co-existed, highlighting surfing as a freeing experience, which, rather than restoring social order, works to instigate a personal transformation or awakening. Despite the range of challenges presented by surfing as a tool for positive development, surfing presents a potentially “critical alternative” which if sport-for-development programs are to be a form of social change, we should remain open to exploring.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).