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Zum Begriff des Sports:
The World of Sport. On the Problem of Defining the Concept of Sport. In: International Journal of Physical Education 26 (1989), 4, 9-18.

 

 

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1.

Introduction: The Heterogeneity of the Phenomenon "Sport"

2.

The Life-World (Lebenswelt) as Ultimate Substantiation of Conduct in Sport

3.

The Inner, Ludic Elements of Sport

3.1

Sport as a Subsystem of Play

3.2

SpecificStructural Features of Sport as Opposed to the Rest of the Ludic World

3.2.1

The Focus on Movement in Acts of Sport

3.2.2

The True Reality of Sport

3.2.3

Performance and the Achievement Principle in Sport

3.2.4

The Social Dimension of Sport

4.

The Outer, Non-Ludic Elements of Sport

4.1

The Relationship of Tension between the Inner and Outer Horizons of Sport Acts

4.2

Individual Manifestations of Alienation in Sport

5.

Closing Remarks: The Tri-Level Model of Sport

 

1. Introduction: The Heterogeneity of the Phenomenon "Sport" as a Fundamental Problem in Sport Science

In empirical reality, the world of sport manifests itself as a highly complex, multilayered, and simultaneously contradictory phenomenon. For instance, we generally classify such varied sport forms as basketball, track and field, gymnastics, or even auto- and motor racing under the term "sport". We further differentiate between sport for the masses, performance sport, or high-performance sport and pro/show sport, in addition to leisure sport, fitness sport, and sport for the handicapped, or expressive and instrumental sport as well as informal and formal sport.

In view of this multiplicity of intended meanings in the world of sport - meanings which sometimes overlap, are sometimes contradictory, and sometimes supplant one another - it is no wonder that it has thus far been quite difficult for sport scientists to reach anything approaching an adequate consensus regarding "sport" as their subject of cognitive investigation. Highly simplistic global interpretations of sport predominated above all for a long time; while they correctly represented partial aspects of sport activity, they were all too often attributed to sport in general, in both a positive and negative sense. More sophisticated theoretical constructs gradually seem to be prevailing, however, with the result that problems of theory formation and concept definition as well as general questions of meaning in play, game and sport are moving further into the foreground.

Despite numerous methodological difficulties, the author does not share the view of LENK (1980, 425/426) and others who, in concurrence with WITTGENSTEIN (1967, 48/49), hold that there is no common characteristic feature for the generic term "sport" with its vague horizons of meaning, but at best a complicated network of similarities, such that one can speak only of a structure of family resemblances in patterns of action in sport. The author instead embraces the position taken up by "Verstehende

< Original S. 10 >

Soziologie" and philosophical hermeneutics. According to this approach, the task of science lies precisely in working out conceptual cores which despite all their individual vagueness and shortcomings combine the ideal-typical common denominators (M. WEBER 1972, 9/10), the general essence, or what HUSSERL (1972, 381 pp.) refers to as "eidos" even if the boundaries of the concept of sport are always indistinct in empirical terms.

2. The Life-World (Lebenswelt) as Ultimate Substantiation of Conduct in Sport

The depth structure of the world of sport can be adequately understood only if the ideologies in which Sport is viewed as an autarchy or a world of its own are finally overcome and it is realized that sport can only exist against the backdrop of the whole life-world, which in its all-oneness imparts the total horizon to all human existence. As a part and inherent component of the life-world which provides ultimate substantiation, the world of sport is primarily a conscious world which exists only as a "cogitatum", i. e., as the intentional subject of our "cogitationes". We can never completely separate things from intentional consciousness; likewise, consciousness is never possible other than as "consciousness of" the things of this world (HUSSERL 1950).

Proceeding on this assumption, the world of sport is always bound up in the triadic interrelationship of tension between nature, culture, and individuality. First of all, the human organism is preformed through behavioral channels determined by evolutionary history; secondly, "intersubjectivity and the we-relationship" provide a basis for "all other categories of human existence" (SCHÜTZ 1971b, 116), thus being no subjectivity beyond what is social; thirdly, man is never merely a constituent being but rather always a constituting being as well, which explains why SIMMEL (1968, 26-28) views man´s capacity to reflect as the positive prerequisite for his socialization.

As part of the life-world, the world of sport is also connected to the real, natural world of social life shared by all, which has its origin in the world of the senses or the outer, geographical world of nature. lt attains a qualitatively higher plane of meaning in the socio-culturally motivated strata of the world of culture; this plane can be adequately grasped only through the methods of "Verstehende Soziologie", which appropriately reflect the value concepts of a society. Finally, the real world is held together by the intersubjectivity of space and time (socially established standard measures and times) derived from physical laws (HUSSERL 1972, 1976; W. JAMES 1923; SCHÜTZ 1971a and GURWITSCH 1975).

Moreover, the world of sport always meshes and interacts with the manifold worlds of the imagination, which first of all exist only in the as-if mode. They are either more limited to the inner consciousness (day and night dreams), or are embodied in materialized form (artwork), or allow socially sedimented forms (theater, the art world in general, religion and metaphysics), or even take possession of us in a pathological way (schizophrenia). Nevertheless, the imaginative life-world is always affected by the natural, tangible world of society which provides the original material for fictional transformations and in which we remain physically present, no matter how much we lose ourselves in the secrets, myths, and curiosities of imaginative reality (HUSSERL 1972; W. JAMES 1923; SCHÜTZ 1971a and GOFFMAN 1977).

3. The Inner, Ludic Elements of Sport

3.1 Sport as a Subsystem of Play

Despite the undeniable interaction between the world of sport and the surrounding life-world and sport's high degree of dependence on this world, ideal-typical common denominators and specific structural features can nevertheless be seen in the wide variety of forms assumed by sport. In accordance with HUSSERL (1972, 124), we refer to these as the "inner horizon" of the object. Unlike EDWARDS (1973, 55 pp.) and others, the author

< Original S. 11 >

is not of the opinion that the fundamental depth structure of rules of sport is in contradiction to the world of play; rather, the essence of their deepest core is formed by the criteria of meaning for play and playing and is, in fact, rooted in the ludic aspect of Sport. The inner system of both spheres thus originate from the same inherent laws.

As a subsystem of play, sport is unconditionally bound up with the authenticity of the person of the actor, which in turn simply means that it is originally rooted in the freedom and voluntariness of action which distinguishes all true play (SCHEUERL 1979, 69-72; HUIZINGA 1956, 15; GRUPE 1982, 120-122, and HÄGELE 1979, 16). Genuine acts of sport are thus not perceived as unpleasant but rather as a source of joy and happiness (FINK 1957, 23). lndeed, life flows, surges, wells up, and pours forth over one in this state (CSIKSZENTMIHAYLI 1979, 257-274). The power of the experiences compresses the succession of events to a single now in a fulfilled present which irresistibly fuses the act, thought, and feeling. Hence, we primarily tend less toward a quick end of the action in sport than a repetition of those moments which enrich us. We thus do not feel abused or interchangeable at will in this context but instead perceive ourselves as individuals whose feelings of self-worth are reinforced regardless of any weaknesses we might have or mistakes we might make otherwise.

In contrast to mere playfulness, however, an element of seriousness and the athlete's confrontation with a task is always concealed behind the light-hearted, carefree aspect of sport. On the other hand, the concept of work (KANT 1975, 730) already leads beyond the ludic sphere of sport, work generally being taken up not for pleasure but out of the necessity of securing one's material existence; in the final analysis, the concept of work discredits the idea that the game which arises and develops into a dynamic experience is the more fundamental game, rather than the game dictated by outcome. Thus, it is doubtless the concept of art which comes closest to the ludic essence of the system of action in sport. Sport and art alike find their legitimation and "raison d'être" not in earning money and doing business, but in developing the self through the act; they are actually sought out for reasons of intrinsic (inner) motivation, even if they are so closely surrounded by extrinsic (outer) elements similar to work.

3.2 Specific Structural Features of Sport as Opposed to the Rest of the Ludic World

The world of sport then again differs from the world of play in general and from other ludic categories (games of chance, intellectual games, theater) in the typical structural features and influencing factors which constitute the specific framework of sport and its individual form.

3.2.1 The Focus on Movement in Acts of Sport

The physical orientation of sport activities must be mentioned first in this context, as motoric aspects, endurance, speed, strength, and skill are inherent constituent elements of acts of sport (Wiss. Beirat des Deutschen Sportbundes 1980, 438; MEIER 1981, 82 pp.). lt is true that non-sport games are never restricted exclusively to the inner consciousness but are always manifested in the outer world which can be perceived by the senses; this world always comprises players who are bodily present and play with tangible game equipment. However, unlike intellectual games such as checkers and chess, in which physical movement is a negligible marginal phenomenon, every true game of sport entails more motoric than non-motoric activity, and hence the physical element is dominant.

As a game of movement, every sport thus refers back to the drive for function, movement, and life which is rooted in archetypes and emphasized by GROOS (1930), BUYTENDIJK (1933), and others; this drive rises above all the differences and conflicting elements of various cultures to constitute unity in the world of sport. The extent to which the structure of the human biological drive actually asserts itself and just how important it is

< Original S. 12 >

nonetheless always depends on given social and cultural factors as well as current moods and motives. Even so, acts of movement in sport always remain learned activities which can be adequately understood only if the extremely intertwined network of coexistence, superiority, subordination, togetherness, and rivalry encountered in the social groups in which these activities are performed is also taken into account. Proceeding beyond evolutionary genetic depth programming, sport thus also embodies the values, myths, rites, and ideologies which are defined as comprising a culture, as well as the rules, norms, and roles set up by the subgroup of a society.

3.2.2 The True Reality of Sport

Statements by sport scientists on the reality status of sport are just as vague and contradictory as those regarding the reality status of play in general (LOY & McPHERSON & KENYON 1978, 5-8; EDWARDS 1973, 43-49; KROCKOW 1974, 161; Wiss. Beirat des Deutschen Sportbundes 1980, 438, and GRUPE 1982, 143-145). Sport conduct is accordingly described as "artificial", "quasi-aesthetic",  "imaginary and illusory"; but also as "real" and "genuine"; without sport´s reference to reality having been worked out with a final degree of clarity. Nevertheless, a person who engages in sport does not normally slip behind the mask of fiction and follow a script with predetermined roles; rather, he is part of the real world of our senses and of concrete objects in the outer world. The actual world of sport is thus generally distinct from the most varied of fictional games which directly entail the illusionary transformation of reality, even if the intended meanings of such play often merge with those of sport. While the canon of rules, norms, and values of a sport form subject the natural and social universals of walking, running, throwing, and jumping to a specific reinterpretation, this does not mean a priori that the athlete abandons the real, factual world; rather, he typically plays a real game in a context with other real persons. Thus, if competitions in the world of sport such as wrestling are dramatically "staged", the sphere of meaning of sport is overturned and becomes a spectacle with a predetermined outcome.

3.2.3 Performance and the Achievement Principle in Sport

Like all play, sport does not actually live from external aims and purposes, but from the drama of the moment. Maintaining the "element of tension" as the center between boredom and excessive demands (HUIZINGA 1956, 34; SCHEUERL 1979, 91, and HECKHAUSEN 1973, 155 ff.) is thus an absolutely necessary component of the world of sport. The mechanism which effects this balance is the dynamic to-and-form of forces in play. The factors which actually determine play are therefore not predictability and calculation, but surprise and luck. While the player of a game of chance is almost totally at the mercy of the irrationality of coincidence, what happens in the world of sport is largely determined by the player himself and his individual strengths, capabilities, and skills. The goal and achievement as well as the joy of being able to do something as well as or better than others (GROOS 1973, 497/498) are thus the principle constituent determining factors of sport activity.

This willingness to achieve is in turn anchored in man´s biogenetic disposition. He ultimately exists and can exist only through the active process of "shaping" himself and the world around him (LENK 1983, 33-42). Just like any other achiever (HECKHAUSEN 1974; BOLTE 1979), the athlete orients himself according to specific measures of assessment and quality; this involves effort, risks, and difficulties, and the possibility of frustration and failure can never be completely ruled out. Moreover, sport activities always allow the choice between a lower level of achievement (persons engaged in leisure sport, beginners) and/or a higher one (top-level athletes), even if only on the condition that the optimal tension level, i. e., not too much and not too little, be maintained for the task (this always including the possibility of an increased level of difficulty).

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One typical characteristic of achievement in sport is that it a) demonstrates a principally physical orientation. Regardless of what else is at stake, athletic performance is primarily "directed toward acquiring, maintaining, and optimizing motoric skills" (Wiss. Beirat des Deutschen Sportbundes 1980, 439). Performance in sport is b) voluntary as a general principle. The individual can perform without having to do so. Hence, athletic performance is to be defined not so much by the product as by the process of performing, even if the performance of the achievement and the achievement itself ideally form a single unit, and the individual may equate this experience with pleasure and happiness. Finally, performance in the world of sport c) generally does not aim to destroy the other; rather, it is bound up with ties of solidarity. The athlete is not just will-less material in the hands of (overly) ambitious trainers, but the subject of the act, more a necessary counterpart than an antagonistic force. Of course, this does not exclude the possibility of inner insecurities, fears, and crises arising and having to be overcome. On the other hand, extreme top-level achievements in sport, which would be inconceivable today the fundamental attitude of inner-worldly asceticism, are not determined from the beginning by outside forces disdainful of man (as is sometimes argued) but must first be understood as an expression and symbol of citius, altius, fortius, which is inherent to life. In this context, the record is an orientation mark which in its deepest essence is committed to complete perfection in and through extreme physical achievement. "Mastery" in the sense of DIEM (1959, 167 pp.) thus does not mean living out "lower instincts" but represents a "festival of higher humanity" in ideal-typical terms which is rooted in the ethical and moral principle of "fair play".

However, if a person engaging in sport chooses the social group as frame of reference, the foremost considerations are no longer individual desires but social expectations for conduct and comparison with others as well as with socially standardized record marks. Above all, outstanding importance is then attributed to the achievement principle (HECKHAUSEN 1974, 58 pp.; BOLTE 1979, 13 pp. and HARTFIEL 1977, 11 pp.) as a principle of social formation and order, according to which social positions in and beyond sport are distributed on the basis of socially sanctioned achievements. To be sure, the achievement principle is never applied absolutely in its original meaning in sport, as this would ultimately result in an inhuman world which has no room and makes no sense for losers, underachievers, or the physically disadvantaged. In reality, the achievement principle is always combined with or mitigated by other social distribution mechanisms, or even infringed upon by them (BOLTE 1979, 34 pp.; HARTFIEL 1977, 21 pp.), mechanisms such as the sex principle (separate sport for men and women), age principle (upper and lower age limits), or principle of social origin (more elitist sport and sport for the masses).

3.2.4 The Social Dimension of Sport

Unlike a fictional game which originally allows the player to retreat almost completely into his individual fantasies, the world of sport is typically governed by the intersubjectivity of its structures, regardless of sport form. Keeping this in mind and turning first to the individual engaged in sport, we see that the individual´s subjective freedom of choice is certainly greatest here. The athlete can essentially do as he pleases without being directly influenced by others. Thus, at least ideally, the exclusively personal which truly distinguishes a human being as such is most likely to exert an effect on the action in the case of the individual engaged in sport. Nevertheless, the "nuisance of society" cannot be completely cast aside in the solitude and freedom of the game for the individual, for at least the framework of what is and is not sport is socially derived and defined. There are learned boundaries of sport, which are conveyed through specific socialization agents and evaluated by significant reference groups - despite the fact that the remote effect of society can sometimes be assessed only with difficulty.

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On the other hand, if the other is directly or indirectly elevated to the status of a permanent component of the action, the individual is no longer involved in play only as himself, but he becomes part of a group of players more or less affected by his acts. M. WEBER (1922, 339) therefore declares game rules an absolute prerequisite for all social play; without them, play would inevitably end in anomie and chaos. The success of the game always requires a certain degree of social sensitivity for the often contradictory intentions of the fellow players, the ability to tolerate a minimal amount of frustration since individual needs are only partially met, and impression and information management appropriate to the given role-play (INGHAM/LOY 1974, 36). In addition, a modicum of positive social feelings is indispensable, since the social network in sport is essentially established not through external coercion but through the intact interrelationship of the partners in interaction. Ideally, a kind of community is formed (M. WEBER 1972, 21 pp.), in which maintaining the dignity of the individual is a duty and an irrefutable maxim of action; this can contribute considerably toward building up social trust.

Informal games are doubtless most open to the individual wishes of the partners in interaction, being primarily structured by those present. The capacity to reflect and to continuously adapt the rules to the requirements of the group is thus also absolutely necessary. This usually involves a relatively small circle of athletes in a direct face-to-face relationship whose participation essentially depends on personal factors such as the appeal the game holds for them. In practice, a specific differentiation of roles is perhaps not unusual here either. Leadership and subordination can likewise be seen, and last but not least, dissent and conflict. The intermeshing of emotional tension and inner ties nevertheless repeatedly admonishes the interactional partners to observe the norm of reciprocity. Fundamentally, the social principles of solidarity and direct democracy are thus most likely to be realized in informal games.

Spontaneous, informal games are nevertheless constantly threatened by the upheaval and collapse of their relationship forms; their boundaries are much too weakly and vaguely structured. If greater stability and continuity are to be attained, a formalization of the game´s type structure is inevitable. The habituation, historicity, and organization (BERGER/LUCKMANN 1972, 49-98) of sport as well as the introduction of an arbitral instance does not automatically pervert the original sense of mutual affirmation of and respect for the other, which remains an unrenounceable value and binding maxim of action. This is often not taken into consideration when formal games are prematurely disparaged and condemned. Furthermore, the principle of "the freedom to commit oneself" is not thereby automatically invalidated, but remains essentially preserved (GROOS 1973, 512/513). Finally, the numerical expansion (SIMMEL 1968, 32-52) of the world of sport beyond all regional and national boundaries is possible only through a formalization of procedures. While an increasing degree of organization in sport always entails a certain loss of spontaneity and reflexivity, the many quarrels and violations of the game framework ensure that the "ego" is never completely eliminated, even in the face of the most extreme ritualism of relationships. Moreover, every formal game is continuously overlaid and modified but thereby also relativized and adversely affected by the more or less informal way in which it is dealt with in less closed situations.

4. The Outer, Non-Ludic Elements of Sport

4.1 The Relationship of Tension between the Inner and Outer Horizons of Sport Acts

The fundamental reason why the deeper essence of sport is repeatedly threatened and encroached upon by non-ludic criteria of meaning lies in the fact that, empirically speaking, the world of sport is inevitably bound to the totality of the surrounding life-world. The boundaries of meaning between

< Original S. 15 >

the actual, inner horizon of sport and its non-ludic, outer horizon (HUSSERL 1972, 171; 1976, 165) have never been so rigid that mutual reference would be impossible; rather, a manifold relationship of interaction and dependence is the rule. After all, the various spheres of reality are always based on one and the same consciousness (HUSSERL 1972, 195; SCHÜTZ 1971a, 297). Hence, a purely homogenous sub-universe of sport is a theoretical, extreme case which can at best be nearly attained, and even that only for short periods and if we succeed in concentrating our attention completely on the focal point of the ludic reality status of sport. Our action is normally determined by a broad range of the most diverse motives which - sometimes related, sometimes divergent - arc recruited from the most varied combinations of the ludic, intrinsic horizon and the non-ludic, extrinsic horizon of sport alike. Since social systems can also be coded by the brain, it can be assumed that sport groups and organizations are structured according to these same principles. Accordingly, there are usually no closed, ideally homogenous systems in sports, but relatively open systems which are never perfectly integrated; such systems are often integrated only through the insistence on a consensus and are more or less in a relationship of assimilation and exchange with their environment.

This also explains why the concept of sport (conceptual core) is surrounded by a "fringe" (conceptual field) comprising ambiguous meanings, in which the inner structural features of sport are placed in a symbiotic relationship to the contents of the other provinces of reality directly affecting sport. The further the outer meanings distance themselves from the inner conceptual core of sport, the more the distinctiveness and character of the aura specific to sport and thus of the thematic relevance of the conceptual field of "sport" is lost - until finally a zone is reached in which the coexistent background no longer exhibits any reference to what actually constitutes sport (conceptual periphery) (c. f. in general HUSSERL 1972, 26-28, 124 pp., 171 pp.; GURWITSCH 1975, 251 pp., and GOFFMAN 1977, 224-248, 607).

4.2 Individual Manifestations of Alienation in Sport

If we now turn to the individual outer elements of sport, it becomes immediately apparent that there are many levels of them. Thus, the intactness of the sport world is already adversely effected if distress and cares, in other words, overly compulsive elements, gain ground. On the other hand, the game degenerates to unbridled alliance if the requisite seriousness is lacking. Boredom, monotony, and routine can then destroy the timeless presentness of the act. Alternatively, the task one sets for oneself may entail excessive demands; rather then serving to strengthen the ego and promote development of the personality, this leads to inner insecurities and crises more likely to encourage the pathological in us. Egoism, general intemperance, envy, and hate can distort the ludic guidelines beyond recognition. Primarily on the social level, the outer, alienated aspects of sport nonetheless arise virtually of their own accord, since experience shows that the actors can never completely subdue their egos beneath the expected role behavior. Hence, overly personal factors prevail again and again, threatening the ties of solidarity among athletes, sometimes to their very foundations. This is all the more so as the increasing orientation toward success in modern sport leads to pervasive disfavour and discrimination as well as aggression and violence - sometimes with far-reaching dysfunctional consequences. This hence also illustrates most clearly that a sport world with absolutely no conflict and complete integration arises more from utopian and naive wishful thinking than empirical consideration. The world of sport is not the only one in which bridges are continuously being built to the alter ego, but they are torn down as well, and the most diverse variations of love and hate occur.

The manifestation of alienation takes a completely different turn when sport is themati-

< Original S. 16 >

cally reinterpreted in the context of premilitary and paramilitary training. The ludically oriented motive for engaging in sport is also being more and more frequently beset and supplanted by the health motive. In addition, intrinsic and extrinsic interests are very emphatically united when sport is subordinated to the institution of school, for administrative decrees and pedagogic tasks can never be completely avoided. Nevertheless, the greatest danger facing modern sport is the continuing politicization (ALLISON 1986; EDWARDS 1984) and commercialization (HEINEMANN 1984; 1987) of its structures. As an expanding mass phenomenon, sport has today attained such outstanding social and political significance that the legislative, the executive, and the political parties can no longer get around including it in political calculations. Victories and defeats in sport, namely at large athletic events, are thus being drawn further and further into the representation and legitimization of political systems as well as the ideological East-West polarization of the hegemonial powers Russia and America. Moreover, as a direct consequence, the self-imposed interdependence arrangement in the partnership between sport and state, which is based on subsidiarity and the relative autonomy of sport, is always potentially in danger of turning into a relationship of dependence; an affiliation of this kind frequently entails subtle tutelage on the part of the state but can also pervert the concept of voluntary state assistance by turning it into an irrevocable obligation to provide support, particularly if the public´s expectations of success serve as an additional means of pressure.

In states with a market or capitalist economy, the influence of the economic system on sport must be rated as even greater than that of politics. The FRG is not the only country in which the classic principles of sport - honorary posts, fairness, and solidarity - are greatly beleaguered by the laws of the market. Accordingly, sport is increasingly viewed as a consumer good, thereby entering into a fateful dependence on patronage and sponsorship. In this context, it is all too readily overlooked that the economy makes its limited monetary resources available primarily on account of the advertising effect and better marketing of its products. One must, however, at least admit that a further element of inequality entered the world of sport in this way, since - in accordance with the play of forces between supply and demand in a market economy - only those sport forms and stars capable of captivating the masses obtain lucrative sponsorship contracts. All the same, the strong tendencies toward politicization and commercialization presently extending from the professionalized sphere to more and more areas of sport were only made possible by the mass media. Television in particular is technically capable of allowing an audience of billions to take part in the spectacle of sport.

Regarding the economic value relativization and monopolization of sport with its profit-maximizing orientation, NEALE (1975, 204 pp.) has already set forth in exemplary fashion the absolute necessity of maintaining a certain continuity of the inner horizon of sport in the face of all the encroachments from outside. The minimum requirement for all patterns of action in sports must therefore be the observance of "fair play" as a general principle; at the same time, the balance of tension between forces and the openness of the outcome of the game must be maintained, regardless of which outer elements are involved in sport. lt will be necessary to pay greater attention to this in the future, particularly as the precarious position beyond which external, non-ludic motives clearly begin to dominate in sport is exceeded not infrequently today.

5. Closing Remarks: The Tri-Level Model of Sport

If we summarize the statements considered above, a set of features defining the central meaning of the concept "sport" in ideal-typical, abstract terms clearly emerges. On the other hand, there are always outer, nonsport elements which project into the world

< Original S. 17 >

of sport and penetrate it to a greater or lesser degree. This situation can best be illustrated with the help of a tri-level model (HÄGELE 1982, 198 pp.). The first level unites those structural features which constitute the inner horizon (conceptual core) of sport. On the second level, the inner-worldly and constitutive ideals of sport are related to the meanings of the worlds from which they are distinct (conceptual field). Finally, the third level of the model represents the borderline area in which external, non-sport motives clearly begin to achieve dominance (conceptual periphery). Use of and recourse to the tri-level model is productive in heuristic terms, if only for the reason that it prevents superficially simplified and greatly dichotomized global interpretations which only perceive the pure ideal (first level) and/or complete alienation (third level), but not the empirical reality which lies between the two, with its most diverse combinations (second level). Structural-functional analysis is nevertheless an absolutely necessary tool for concretely determining the proportion of inner and outer elements in the system at given times in history. Analysis of this kind best protects from all too premature generalizations and ethnozentricm, for structure and function are understood as complementary concepts which refer to one another; if the one changes, this always has consequences for the other (BÜHL 1975, 61-73).

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