The Social Construction of the Long-term Athlete Development Framework

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Journal of Global Sport Management

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This article examines the social construction of the Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) framework and the Canadian Sport for Life Leadership Team (now Sport for Life), the group responsible for the creation, development and promotion of LTAD. In particular, the study draws upon Schneider and Ingram’s theory of social construction and policy design and empirical data collected from the leadership team and senior civil servants to trace the socio-political developments that have led to the emergence and development of the LTAD framework and the leadership team within Canadian sport. The analysis focuses on the role of government (via Sport Canada) and how the LTAD framework and the leadership team emerged from and attempted to influence the Canadian sport policy process. The findings reveal how the adoption of the LTAD framework can, in part, be explained by the socio-political developments or ‘politicking’ that occurred within and around the creation, development and dissemination of the framework itself. More broadly, the study explains how the LTAD framework has become an increasingly orthodox conception of the athlete development process despite the absence of scientific research to support many of its claims.


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