Waikato Journal of Education
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Wensing, E. H., Bruce, T., & Pope, C. (2016). Playing to win or trying your best: Media represtations of national anxieties over the role of sport participation during the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Waikato Journal of Education, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.15663/wje.v10i1.340


In the last few years, growing concern has emerged in New Zealand sport about the shift towards a more commercial or professionalised model of sport and away from a mass participation-based model. In the midst of a relatively intense period of debate and concern over this change in direction, the 2002 Commonwealth Games took place in Manchester, England. In this article, we analyse how media coverage of the Games articulated with the broader public debate over the direction of New Zealand sport. Grounded in the assumption that the media both reflects and impacts on public understandings of cultural issues, we believe this analysis of coverage of the Games reveals a profound ambivalence over a more professionalised model of sport and points to an unwillingness to give up traditional values of sports participation in order to win. We explore how this debate articulates with current tensions in the realm of Physical Education and suggest that health and physical educators have an important role to play in challenging current pressures towards a win-at-all-costs approach to sport.

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