How sportainable came to the DEAL

The story of the think tank sportainable and how it came to join the Doughnut Economics Action Lab

Our story begins in the late 1980s, when Peter Leonhard Kuhn was a teacher at a grammar school in #Bayreuth. As in many schools at the time, the parents' council discussed whether #school #ski courses could still be justified in view of the damage that skiers were causing to the #flora and #fauna of the #Alps. Peter, who had been active in the "green movement" for many years, argued against this with the educational potential of school ski courses and the fact that the biggest problem with ski tourism was #travelling by car from home to the holiday resort. In this respect, the whole sport should be called into question if it is dependent on motorised private #transport. When Peter moved to university in the early 1990s, he began researching the subject. Using #volleyball as an example, he was able to show that 60 million miles are driven by car each year in competitive volleyball and 330000 pieces of #material (shoes, jerseys, balls, etc.) are used—and wasted—in Germany. The #study can be downloaded here (PDF, german).
To structure his #research project, Peter developed a #graphic (see attached file) that illustrates the #systemic relationship between #sport, #society and the #natural #environment. The original of this graphic can be found in Kuhn (1996, p. 60). Peter developed it in 1992, at the very beginning of his studies on the ecological impact of everyday sport—as a pencil drawing. The systemic and hierarchical relationship between the dimensions of sustainability, as we later find in Raworth (2018) or Ibisch et al. (2019, pp. 59ff), is already laid out here. The model anticipates what we now call “strong sustainability”.
From his findings, Peter derived suggestions for #structural #transformation and educational measures in the sports system. He presented his figures and proposals to the scientific community and a number of sports organisations. He met with interest from the former and scepticism from the latter. Slightly frustrated, —alongside other research topics—he decided to focus on #ecological #education in sport and to wait until the time was right for structural reforms in terms of #sustainability in sports.
After the turn of the millennium, sustainability also became an increasingly important topic in the sports #sector. Peter intensified his research into sustainable transformation together with Master's students. The appointment of Manuel Steinbauer to the first German Chair of Sport Ecology at the University of Bayreuth was decisive. He opened up almost unlimited possibilities for advancing the topic of sustainable sports #development. In the case of the development of a sustainable sports #sneaker, a research group was formed, which decided to found a think tank on February 14, 2022.
While the initial aim of this think tank was to network researchers in German-speaking countries, the idea of also offering educational opportunities and organising projects with partners soon emerged. On June 30, 2023, a #nonprofit entrepreneurial company was founded to manage the think tank professionally. And today, around 130 people from ten nations are networked in the think tank sportainable, including around 80 seniors and 50m juniors. In addition, the think tank has established 15 partnerships with like-minded organisations.
It became clear quite early on in the collegial discussion that a comprehensive #framework is needed for the sustainable development of the sports sector. This initially appeared tangible with the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. But we wanted to paint an even bigger picture—and for that we needed a holistic approach. This we found in Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics. It was Manfred Miosga who pointed this out to us. So we thought about how we could transfer the principles of the Doughnut Economics to the sports sector. We announced this on our homepage and on social media and Peter registered with DEAL to find like-minded people. And so it wasn't long before Jo Dobson from Useful Projects, being part of the Useful Simple Trust, which is also registered with DEAL, got in touch with him. And well, here we are, setting up a binational research group and looking forward with excitement to what we will encounter on our joint doughnut journey...





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