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Conflict resolution extremely crucial in sport

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The practice of using sport for conflict resolution, peace and development are rapidly expanding as the numerous ways it positively impacts communities is being recognised globally. But while the sport is seen as one of the best platforms for teaching people, particularly the youth about how to deal with conflict, there is a growing concern about how the conflict in the sport itself can be addressed. What are the ways to resolve the many conflicts that occur on daily basis from administrative and management levels to those actually involved in playing the sport?

Research clearly shows how the sport has the ability to break down misconceptions by promoting communication, dialogue, and greater understanding of other cultures and religions. But have you wondered how sometimes these same issues continue to plague sporting organisations and the struggle to find a solution seems never-ending?

We all know that in the highly stressful environment of elite sport (and even social sport), conflict is bound to occur. The easiest way to see the conflict is as a disagreement between parties.

There are occasions when the conflict in the sporting environment is inevitable It often begins with a difference in people’s behaviours, interests, desires, or values. Conflict can also begin through jealousy or personal dislike.

When trying to successfully manage conflict it is critical to notice it when it begins and before it escalates into a crisis situation.

Monitoring the behaviour of all involved can give insights into where discussions may lead to and what possible outcomes may be.

While it is sometimes necessary to obtain the services of an independent person who is skilled in conflict resolution to assist the parties to negotiate and reach an agreement, with or without that negotiator, the conflict will only begin to subside when parties have the opportunity to meet and properly hear each other’s argument. Then it is necessary for parties to find some common ground and work their way positively out of the conflict situation. The key factor in solving conflict is one’s attitude.

Conflict often gets perceived as only having negative outcomes and this often can be the case if the conflict is managed inappropriately or it is ignored altogether. But surely positives outcomes are always possible and should always be the intention.

In a time where we are longing for positivity, I would prefer to list what positive outcomes to conflict can lead to and these include fresh ideas as personnel looks for new approaches which now involves increase in motivation and creativity; firm intention to ensure there is clarification of issues and ideas, more teamwork; an increase in trust within relationships; developing more tolerance and one of the main items, an increase in productivity and sense of achievement.

So clearly all can’t be lost even if it is felt that conflict has plagued sporting disciplines or organisations for longer periods than we would like. While it may not always be the most anticipated or preferred way to build strong relationships, overcoming conflict can be very effective. We must use personal experiences as a way to show endurance as overcoming situations can in the long run show commitment to the relationship from all sides and the experience undoubtedly help to further understand each other. The efforts are worth it in the long run especially if the vision is set towards better resources and improved conditions that can improve the organization and standard of the sport.

Today’s I’ll end with a couple quotes from Martin Luther King Jr, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now. Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”


Shaun Fuentes is a media trainer, coaching athletes how to present themselves before cameras and how to handle the microphone.

He has travelled for work in over 75 countries and was a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He also serves as a Concacaf Events Media operations officer.


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