The institutionalization of top-level sport in norway

Por: Atle Hansen, Nils Asle Bergsgard e Pal Augestad.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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In this paper our aim is to examine the institutional development of top-level sport in Norway from a sociological perspective. The last twenty years the organization of Norwegian top-level sport has evolved from being a responsibility taken on by each sport association to being gathered within an autonomous organization: the Olympiatoppen. Today the Olympiatoppen has been assigned the superior responsibility for almost all top-level sport by ‘the Norwegian Olympic Committee and Confederation of Sports’, which govern all organised sport in Norway. However, although Norwegian top-level sport has experienced great success during Olympiatoppens regime, the change in the organization of top-level sport has not happened without controversies. Some of the different sport associations feel completely run over by their own organization. Among other things they claim that the transfer of resources and power to the Olympiatoppen has led to a one-sided top-level sport culture, which in the long run has damaging effects on the level of achievement among Norwegian athletes.


The methodical approach in this paper is primarily based on studies of documents and qualitative interviews. The documents consist of political documents, plans, journals, records, yearbooks and so forth, concerning organised sport in general and top-level sport in particular. The qualitative interviews are made with sport leaders, politicians, bureaucrats and commercial actors that have been involved in the decision-making process behind the development of Olympiatoppen

Discussions/ Conclusions

Through an institutional and discourse analysis we discuss the important processes and mechanisms behind the constitutionalisation of the Olympiatoppen. What were the key factors that led to the formation of the Olympiatoppen and what legitimatizes an own organization for top-level sport? Further we will look at: How was it possible for the Norwegian Olympic Committee and Confederation of Sports to put the different sport associations on the sideline and transfer nearly all responsibility to the Olympiatoppen?






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