Sports as a way to prevent social exclusion

Football, rugby, tennis, handball, volleyball, basketball... There are many options when it comes to workout, even a simple run in the street could do the purpose.

Sports were always seen as a positive thing when it comes to health and well being. But it goes a long way beyond that. It brings a series of benefits, not just for the individual but also to the whole community.

There's a clear sociological hole that physical exercise can fill. Namely, and especially, in inclusion! 


Sports for inclusion

Social exclusion can be portrayed as a label for what can happen if individuals or even large geographical areas experience a combination of problems such as unemployment, lack of education, low income, poor housing, high crime environment, bad health and family breakdown.

Sports can and has to be a site of empowerment and inclusion.

Many top athletes, when telling their story of how they got to where they are, describe their ride as pretty bumpy precisely because a lot of them come from unstructured families or a troubled background.

There is a lot of cases in which sports have put athletes on the right track, saving them from the path of misdeeds or drugs.

Even cinema has represented cases like this more than once.  

Michael Oher, an offensive lineman who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League, had his story told in "The Blind Side", an Oscar-nominated drama that follows his upbringing and the problems that a kid from an impoverished environment can face. 

A kid that enrols in a sports team, bonds with his teammates, feels a part of something, receives some structure and gets the feeling of belonging. That integration gives him purpose and can trigger the will to integrate a functional society, or at least gives him a glimpse of what that is and should be.


New challenges

Nowadays, there are two more challenges about inclusion that can and should be a priority to clubs and institutions all around the globe: sexuality and elderly people.

One's sexual orientation should not be a measure of his or her worth. Sports teach us that: it is one's commitment and dedication to improving oneself and working for the team that makes the difference. It's your results on the pitch or on the court that put a number on your value as an athlete, not who you choose to love. 

Regarding the elderly, sports can end the isolation and abandonment of older people and, of course, improve their quality of life.

Competitions are just the tip of the iceberg when it concerns sports and their responsibilities.