Comparing Values And Conceptions Of German And Brazilian Olympic Athletes: Heroes, Performers Or Mediators?

Por: e .

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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There are very few studies on the attitudes of athletes toward sport’s values. This lack of empirical investigation is the
origin of either acclamations or rejections of the moral standards of top-level athletes generating paradoxically
completely contrary conclusions. If such paradox is true, the idea of a clear relationship between athletes and the values
of sport is something that must be questioned. The aim of this study was to investigate how the attitudes of athletes
toward sport are related to a balance between ideals and practical reasoning.

Taking a construct of olympism as internationalism, harmonious development and fair play as a reference [1], we
examined values of olympic athletes on a comparative basis. Hence, this investigation was held in the following
theoretical context: the concept of different types of sport as sub-cultures [2]; the theory of totalization of top sport [3];
the Olympism as a meta-theory of sport practice [4]; and works on socio-cultural interpretations of Brazil [5] and
Germany [6] respectively. A mail survey was designed to collect data using a questionnaire with attitudes scales and
open questions. Additionally 20 interviews were conducted (GER=11; BRA=9). 167 individuals answered the
questionnaire (GER=125; BRA=42). The comparisons were based on three variables (individual/team sports,
performance and socio-economic status). Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney tests were used to statistical analysis.

Athletes from both countries have shown an overall positive attitude toward olympic values though significant different
(p<0,001). Excellence, cognition, cultural differences had significant effects on the attitudes toward Olympism. Despite
some influences provided by sport subcultures and sport systems have been identified, their explanatory power over the
results at this level of analysis is limited.

The athlete’s attitudes toward Olympism could be understood in a continuum between systems (control of actions) and
self-determinism (free will) which went through all the elements surveyed in this study. This suggests that the
relationship between athletes and the Olympism is not unmistakable once they search for mediations. The conclusions
drawn from this particular group of athletes must therefore be assessed against evidence drawn from other cases and

[1] Tavares,O. (1999). In: Tavares O. & DaCosta, L.P. (eds.) Estudos Olímpicos. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Gama
Filho, 15-49.
[2]Lovisolo, H. (1995). Educação Física: A Arte da Mediação. Rio de Janeiro: Sprint.
[3] Heinilä, K. (1982) Sportwissenschaft, 2, 235-253.
[4] Coubertin, P. de (1935) In: MÜLLER, N. (ed.) Olympism, Selected Writings, Pierre de Coubertin 1863 - 1937.
Lausanne: International Olympic Committee, 2000, 580-583.
[5] Holanda, S. B. de (1995). Raízes do Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.
[6] Elias, N.(1997). Os Alemães. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor.

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