Some Organisational Features
Swedish sports is not as closely tied to the school system as for example in America. Sports is a compulsory subject up to the 9th grade, but only as education and not organised in practice and competition. Instead sports are organised in local clubs with no ties to the education system.
The clubs are built on non-profit basis by people with a genuine interest in the sport. It is very common that parents are active as trainers in the younger age-groups. Being non- profit it is usually very affordable to participate, even in sports that require expensive equipment or facilities, giving everybody a chance to try any sport. Swedish children are told not to specialise early since the philosophy in Sweden is for all-round practice at young ages. With a wide background it is easier to be able to develop special skills in certain events as one reaches the latter teens.
Most of the Swedish sports are united within the Swedish National Sports Federation. That is in turn, divided into 22 district federations. These districts, again, are divided into 64 associations, i.e., into their respective group of sports. In addition, the varying groups are also further divided into a whole range of clubs. Added to this, some clubs could have more than just the one sport, as for example, IFK Göteborg having a football team, athletics, bowling, as well as orienteering section. IFK Göteborg is not unique; such large clubs are common throughout the country.
The team sports have national leagues with 10 - 15 teams. Then the game is organised in lower leagues that are geographically limited. Each year qualifications determine which teams get to go up a division and which will have to go down. There is, maybe surprisingly, not a single professional league in Sweden where teams are automatically qualified every year. With few exceptions athletes have jobs beside their sports, and not surprisingly many stars become professionals in other countries.
The largest leagues are those of soccer, ice-hockey, basketball and handball. The sports with peak seasons during the winter do not have the problem of low spectator-rates as the summer sports do. The individual sports all have national championships but most tournaments or meets are of regional character. There are both regional and district championships in most events.
Sports and SocietySports for recreation is really an expression that fits the Swedish way of looking at sports. Since very few events require a lot of money , sports like tennis and golf have become sports for everyone. In the 80s, it was time for work-out and aerobics to enter the scene, as did bodybuilding. Sports in the 90s, in Sweden, is the most popular movement, and attracts almost every Swede, including many adventure types of sports like; climbing, diving and rapids-shooting, to mention just a few.
Many parents are active in the non-profit sport clubs. Whole families are involved in sports, making it the main movement in Sweden. Through school, the children often get their first introduction to sport, usually trying different kinds at a young age. The clubs generally encourage children to try different things even in other clubs.
It is much thanks to the Federation for Company Sports that the sports became easy accessible to common people. The basis of their organisation is that sports is for each and every member of society, and not solely for exercise. The company sports worked hard to, for example; get women on a bicycle in the 50s, and jogging for men and women of all ages in the 70s.
The Sport Corporation is very large indeed, as a matter of fact it is the largest movement in Sweden, and therefore, has an organisation of its own, namely Korpen, the Swedish Exercise Sports Federation (Svenska Motions Idrottsförbundet) and can be reached at Idrottens Hus. S-123 87 Farsta. Telephone; 08-605 64 00. FAX; 08-605 63 29. The sports represented are volley ball, korphockey, or, rinkbandy, football ( 7 members per team), boule, indoor bandy, rounders, handball, badminton and bowling among others. Individually there are the following sports to choose from; cycling, dancing, gymnastics, jogging, skiing, and promenades. Contests within the korp-organisation are directed centrally.
The Korpen is organised under the European Federation for Company Sports, and they continuously arrange international sports festivals. However, notes must be made that the basic buildingstone for the Federation of Company Sports is that the sports would become easy accessible to common people. Their formula is that sports is for each and every member of society, and not solely for the exercise.
The other side of sports is the elite and goal oriented. The top sports are very well organised but ,of course, have relatively few active athletes. There are even on the international level very few professional areas in Swedish sports, though elite sports could not maintain the high level unless large-scale sponsoring by companies existed. Despite the fact that Swedes love sports, they are reluctant to go and watch it live, not meaning that Sweden does not have a problem with violence among different groups of fans. Only the national and international level attract spectators in Sweden.
To help promising athletes combine their efforts in sports, and at the same time complete their education, there are a number of special schools where it is possible to train and study. They are very common on the high-school level and all major sports have several schools around the country that attract young athletes. On the college level it is not as common but more and more colleges give their students this option.
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