A sport to save city policy?

In January 2021, the mayor, a member of the Inter-Ministry Commission, proposed to allocate 1% of the total budget for the Olympics and Paralympics to fund projects specific to the priority areas of urban policy (QPV). did.

Should the Paris 2024 Olympics, a major event for the world’s sports elite, also provide a response to the social problems faced by disadvantaged working-class regions? This is the wish of many players in both French sports and local governments.

Considered a mixed place and a vector of Republican equality, will amateur sports be ignored in the suburbs? This issue was already identified in the Borloo report (2018) on the outskirts of France, but was also identified by previous governments. Among Jean-Louis Borloo’s 19 recommendations, Sport ranked 6th in the training and recruitment proposals for integrated coaches through sports.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe also declared in April 2018:

“There are 500,000 unemployed people in the neighborhood and we have no right to exclude them. Sports are one of the keys to living together.”

The 2019 Inter-Ministry Notice “Sports-Cities-Inclusive” also specifies that each city contract must include a section entitled “Sports Behavior for Social and Territorial Inclusion”. Sporting activities are presented not only as “revealing talent” that can be mobilized for training and access to employment, but also as “bearers of citizens’ values”. Therefore, more than any other activity, sports have the potential to mobilize a younger audience with integration and / or citizenship dynamics.

What explains the repetitive reliance on sports in the suburbs? What kind of sports model is transmitted there?

Inclusive sports myth

Consensus on the social functioning of naturally integrated and socialized sports is widely shared today, based on the myths expressed through the ideology of sports promoted by the founders of modern sports.

First, sports are to present many figures of social success, both from the popular and immigrant backgrounds.

Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and Jules Koundé played before the League 1 Cup (UEFA) before the French-Denmark match at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on June 3, 2022.
Frank Fif / AFP

Therefore, according to the belief widely shared in our democratic society, the only practice of sport can go beyond the stadium and produce civil and ethical behaviour. In that case, sports are the bearers of values ​​that are likely to make the neighborhood peaceful, create coexistence and constitute the starting point for employment. However, transferring sports skills to other social spaces (workplace, school, etc.) is by no means mechanical.

Changing values ​​and use of images

Observance of sports rules and match instructions does not necessarily require observance of social rules: even so-called sex tapes or sexual abuse, as evidenced in many cases involving players in the sports world. Consider Karim Benzema’s conviction in high-level skating.

This belief born in modern sports is conveyed today by a much wider circle of believers than just sportsmen: elected politicians, business leaders, recruiters, consultants, educators, sports We acknowledge the idea that it is the starting point for the integration of professionals.

However, since the birth of modern sports, the uses, values ​​and images of sports have changed. In working-class areas, today’s sport is a showcase of social and economic success (through a competitive sporting model) rather than a real citizenship vector.

And the individualism and identity that undermines the social body is an assertion that it spares the world of sports. It can be quoted that Djokovic refused to comply with the vaccination rules for Covid-19, claiming the right to compete at the Australian Open. The demand for women in the hijab to wear Islamic veils to play on the soccer field, the demand for specific meals from the sports federation, or the demand for pool time reserved for women is the latest in our society. It shows the impact of the rise of communityization on sports.

Read more: Why sports have become the target of Islamists

Enables expression of bourgeois values

The history of sports explains not only its changes, but also the evolution of its political and social use. From 1830, British minister Thomas Arnold taught sports at the University of Rugby. fair play (Respect opponents, rules, referee decisions, game spirit) and Autonomy(The ability to control yourself in the game, rather than being “engaged in the game”).

XX wholee In the centuries, as it became more democratic, competitive sports jointly designated the physical practices of competition dominated by ideals (ethics or sportsmanship) and common rules. For an educational institution (sports or educational institution), “playing sports” means not only physically exerting oneself in the context of sports, but also gaining morality in particular and, more recently, accessing forms of citizenship. is.

Educators of public ridicule (targeting the British social elite) in the mid-19th centurye Entering the century as a sports leader in the 1980s, passing through the Gaulist Minister of Youth Sports and the Communist Extremists of Sports Federation and Labor Gymnastics in the 1960s, all with the promotion of a vision of good and educational competition in nature. Contributed to strengthening. For General de Gaulle, “sports are an exceptional educational tool” (De Gaulle, 1934, p. 150).

The rise of spectator sports

From the 1980s, sports emerged from a highly competitive and restricted circle and gained the status of a suburban integrated tool in the context of the rise of spectator sports related to television privatization. Soccer is becoming the sport of greatest interest to young men in the working class neighborhood, providing them with a model of excellence. In France, Bernard Tapie (President of Olympique de Marseille from 1986 to 1993) symbolized the advent of the sports business and a new meritocracy through sports.

Transformation (democratization, specialization, media coverage, commercialization) and new dynamics (market liberalization, national liberalization and decentralization, widening inequality, economic crisis, unemployment, first urban riots, politics) in the world of sports Under the combined effect of (democratization), there is an increasing need to fight new social exclusions in order to provide a showcase of success in sports’ most popular sports (soccer, basketball, athletics, boxing). increase.

INA Archive, Mingetz District, September 22, 1981.

After that, the sport became “social” and the system introduced for young people in the housing complex was gradually certified as “social sport”. In power, the Left created the Ministry of Free Time to integrate youth and sports, with the first urban riots in Lyon’s Mingetz district in the summer of 1981, recording the first impact of family reunification. .. The background of the rising unemployment rate and the emergence of the National Front.

“Relieve” the suburbs

Since 1990 (the day the State Department was founded in charge of urban policy), the city and the Ministry of Sports have cooperated in the revitalization and “peace” of the suburbs. Under the city minister, Michel Delebarre, and Bernard Tapie, local sports facilities and neighborhood sports activities led by police officers and educators are slowly emerging.

Since 1991, the desire to make sports a tool for social development has since been widely shared by successive governments. Taking advantage of the momentum generated by the victory of the French team “Black Blanc Beur” in 1998, politics without an objective and long-term assessment of the effects of these policies on social integration and / or the subject’s professionals. Public institutions (states and local governments) and sports federations have been implemented according to this logic that transcends the boundaries of affiliation.

The 1998 World Cup final and France’s first-ever victory over Brazil (3-0): This event has given the sport a boost as a popular “peace” issue.
Omar Toures / AFP

In addition, these plans, supervised by “big brothers,” have long been a priority for boys and young adults. In doing so, the political will to integrate young adolescents primarily through sports to avoid the most visible rebellion, paradoxically, eliminates girls and young women and virilizes public spaces through urban sports. Brought. And it is clear that after the end of compulsory education, many young girls in the working class stop all physical activity.

Public sports activities in the suburbs have been more feminized since the 2000s only in the context of more aggressive policies in favor of equality. However, even when male-female equality is declared, professional integration schemes through the public sports sector and QPV sports are still designed primarily for boys and young men. On the contrary, local elected officials and states are sexist, limiting sports to gender “appropriate” practices and attire, making sports one of the privileged places for diversity, along with schools. We must strive to fight stereotypes.