p-ISSN: 1300-0551
e-ISSN: 2587-1498

Verena BURK

University of Tübingen, Germany

Keywords: High performance sport, sport systems, organisation, society, environment


The possibility for success in any competitive endeavour is enhanced when one has an understanding of the opponent’s strategy, tactics, means, resources and will. In the case of high performance sports, however, those responsible of national systems aiming top athletes and performances have traditionally been inward looking. This presentation reports on the preliminary findings of a project to reverse this tendency by analysing conditions, structures and work towards modernisation in eight nations that were successful at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (Australia, China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and the United States of America). After starting with an introduction on modern high-performance sport, the article moves on to describe the aims, theoretical and methodological approach of the project. It then gives results under the “General social conditions”, “The system of high-performance sport” and “Selected system-environment relationships” headings. Taken together, these reflect a picture of similarities and differences between the examined systems. The main sports considered are athletics, swimming and volleyball, and their national governing bodies. Information was requested from upper level organisations (e.g. the National Olympic Committees), as well as from national ministries responsible of elite sport in the selected countries. Written surveys (questionnaires), interviews, documental and literature analysis, and socio-demographic data were performed.