Newsletter          April 2017

Invitation to: 2017 SMAANZ CONFERENCE

The 2017 Conference organisers at Griffith University are busy preparing for a great Conference program in sunny Queensland, on the Gold Coast, which will also host the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games. A new web page has been established and a call for papers is released. 

  • Deadline for Conference submission: 12th June 2017
  • Notifiation of acceptance: (ongoing until) 30th July 2017
  • Deadline for Conference Awards/Grants: 30th July 2017
  • Deadline for early bird registration: 30th September 2017

Call for Papers

We invite the submission of a variety of abstract types, including empirical, methodological, conceptual, and teaching. Completed research or research in progress is welcomed.

If you have any Conference specific enquiries, please contact Dr Brad Hill at for more information.

Fact Sheet: Benchmarking Switzerland with SPLISS 2.0 Nations 

Top Line Findings of the evaluation of Swiss elite sport policy

  • Improving funding: Athletes, coaches and heads of elite sport believe that the funding is insufficient to ensure lasting success. Simply focusing the available resources is not enough.
  • Strengthening careers through elite sport: The better the awareness of elite sport within an individual’s close entourage during adolescence, the more sustainable the talent development. Only 30% of the athletes interviewed are full-time sports people. Relating to an athlete’s whole life, however, it is crucial for professional athletes to be able to recognize their own vocational skills.
  • Making elite sport a more attractive career option: For athletes to reach a competitive level and achieve Olympic success, they need multi-faceted knowledge and ability. They not only require good coaches and other expert advisors, but also good equipment and outstanding management. A career in the working field of elite sport is not attractive enough for many highly qualified specialists.
  • Creating added value through synergies: Combining different sports can create added value. In high-performance training centers, this knowledge can be pooled.
Strengths of Swiss elite sport policy
  • Talent ID and development
Room for growth in Swiss elite sport policy
  • Financial support
  • Sport mega events
  • Elite sports science and innovation
See the figure below for an overview of the Swiss scores on the nine SPLISS Pillars.
What has Switzerland done with SPLISS-results?
  • Several workshops with national decision-makers and international stakeholders to benchmark the national supporting system.
  • SPLISS-data was used to underline the arguments put in place when developing a new concept for elite sport in Switzerland.
  • 2013 a new concept for elite sport was implemented, which helped to increase financial support for elite sport and sport in general.
  • 2016 a new action plan to develop sport was proposed to the parliament.
Political Impact
  • Swiss Concept for Elite Sport (2013): SPLISS-CH 2011 was the base for developing the new concept for elite sport 2013. Several groups of experts developed and discussed recommendations for action during two hearings. The results of these hearings were given to a steering group which developed the concept. 
  • Swiss Action Plan to develop Sport (2016): Additional to the concept for elite sport the federal council of Switzerland engaged the Federal Office for Sport FOSPO to develop an action plan to develop sport. The action plan came into action 2016.The document consists of three concepts:
    1. concept for elite sport
    2. concept for grassroot sports
    3. concept for sport infrastructure
  • National Report on Financial and Provision Assurance for Swiss Athletes: SPLISS-CH 2011 data was used to develop a report for the Swiss Federal Council evaluating the financial situation of elite athletes in Switzerland. Beginning with a view of the situation, the report then showed the differences to employed people in Switzerland. It included also a comparison with selected countries
The Swiss Federal Institute of Sport Magglingen SFISM conducted the 2.0 SPLISS in Switzerland. The SFISM is part of the Federal Office of Sport FOSPO in Switzerland. 
Welcome to the 25th EASM Conference 2017 in Bern and Magglingen, Switzerland
Registration for the 25th EASM conference and details of the programme are published on the official website
  • Different packages for Students, PhDs and Conference Participants available
  • Early Bird registrations closes on the 30th of June 2017

SPLISS Symposium on Management of High Performance

The Sporting Arms Race between nations investing more money in their elite sport system continues. Nations aim at increasing or at least securing their success at the Olympic Games in this competitive environment. The symposia focuses on the following questions:
  • Which strategies do nations apply to increase their success at the Olympic Games?
  • Which role plays the National Sport Agency in the elite sport system?
  • How can you National Sport Agencies imply their strategies in their national system - Challenges and Best Practice

Maarten Van Bottenburg (Utrecht University) and one of the SPLISS founders received the Francqui Chair at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

Maarten van Bottenburg has finished his first out of four lectures of the Francqui Chair

Maarten has deliver his inaugural lecture on March 30th, 2017, from 4 to 6 in the afternoon in the Auditorium of the VUB. The title of his lecture is: Homo Ludens revisited: on the meaning of sport in contemporary culture. See for more information about the series of lectures that Maarten will give. The next lectures will be on:

  • Tuesday 09th may, 14-16h, 
  • Thursday 19th october, 14-16h
  • Thursday 23th november, 14-16h

The lectures are in dutch (with the possibility of live translation to english - when you register).

The Francqui Chair was established by the Francqui Foundation, which was started in 1932 to promote the further development of higher education and scientific research in Belgium. Annualy, the Francqui Foundation gives out two chairs to every Belgian university. These chairs make it possible to invite professors from other universities and ask them to organise a cycle of classes in their research areas.

An interesting new publication
Measuring competition in the Olympic Winter Games 1992–2014 using economic indices
Andreas Ch. Weber, Hippolyt Kempf, Simon Shibli & Veerle De Bosscher
Managing Sport and Leisure, Vol. 21, No. 6, 399–420, Issue 6, doi:
Download (free copy, max 50)
Since the early 1990s, competition in the Olympic Winter Games has changed notably in terms of events contested and nations taking part. Despite, these changes, which are overseen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the number of medal-winning nations has remained relatively stable. As a first attempt to illustrate this issue on a discipline by discipline basis, economic techniques are used to examine the outcome of competition between 1992 and 2014. The purpose of this paper is to measure: market size; the number of competing nations; and the balance between competitive nations in six disciplines. Focusing on competitive balance, the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index is applied to measure the concentration of domination; while the Przeworski Index is used to quantify instability over time. Important changes are identified in biathlon (2010) and short track (2014). While the change in the former is consistent with the IOC’s substantial increase in biathlon events, the latter can be attributed to athletes changing their nationality. IOC policy-makers can benefit from this research as it provides a method by which to monitor competition in a discipline. This method provides the potential for evaluating the likely effects of governing the Olympic Games by increasing the number of events.
Did you use SPLISS in your research and do you have a peer reviewed publication...?
...let us know, then we can disseminate your work!
Do you have a project where you use SPLISS, or do you know a researcher who uses SPLISS…?
...let us know, then we can get in touch!
A selection of SPLISS publications 2016
A Mixed Methods Approach to Compare Elite Sport Policies of Nations. A Critical Reflection on the Use of Composit Indicators in the SPLISS Study. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. Special issue: Research Methodologies and Sports Scholarship, editors James Skinner & Terry Engelberg, Griffith University.
Veerle De Bosscher
Journal of Global Sport Management, 1(3-4), 70-89. doi:10.1080/24704067.2016.1237203
Download (free copy, max 50):
This paper discusses the utility of mixed methods research in international comparative studies on elite sport policies and (quantitative) composite indicators (CIs) in particular. It illustrates how complex and large amounts of data in 15 nations have been objectified into easily understood formats, CIs. Using a nine Pillar model, data were collected through a research inventory and surveys completed by 3142 elite athletes, 1376 coaches and 241 performance directors. Ninety-six critical success factors and 750 sub-factors were aggregated into a CI. The paper shows how CIs are helpful in identifying a possible (non) relationship between elite sport policies and success, in facilitating interpretation and comparison, and in understanding differences and convergences in elite sport systems. However, there are a number of drawbacks, for example, understanding elite sport policies as part of a broader social, cultural and political context. Complementary qualitative analysis is necessary and has been used to interpret elite sport policies of nations.

An Analysis of Countries’ Organizational Resources, Capacities and Resource Configurations in Athletics.
Jasper Truyens, Veerle  De Bosscher, Popi Sotiriadou, Bruno Heyndels,
Journal of Sport Management.: 1-52, 30, 5 , 566-585.doi:
Research on elite sport policy tends to focus on the policy factors that can influence success. Even though policies drive the management of organizational resources, the organizational capacity of countries in specific sports to allocate resources remains unclear. This paper identifies and evaluates the organizational capacity of five sport systems in athletics (Belgium [separated into Flanders and Wallonia], Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands). Organizational capacity was evaluated using the organizational resources and first-order capabilities framework (Truyens, De Bosscher, Heyndels, & Westerbeek, 2014). Composite indicators and a configuration analysis were used to collect and analyze data from a questionnaire and documents. The participating sport systems demonstrate diverse resource configurations, especially in relation to program centralization, athlete development, and funding prioritization. The findings have implications for high performance managers’ and policy makers’ approach to strategic management and planning for organizational resources in elite sport.

Competitive Balance in Athletics
Truyens,J., De Bosscher, V., Heyndels, B. (2016)
Managing Sport and Leisure, ISNN: 2375-0472. 21(1), 23-43. doi:10.1080/23750472.2016.1169213
Download (free copy, max 50):
While most research on elite sport success focuses on sport policy factors or the explanatory powers of macro-level factors such as wealth and population, sporting success of countries is also determined by the competitive environment of a sport. This paper identified trends in competitive balance in athletics at world championships and Olympic Games between 2000 and 2015. Using Spearman rank correlations between multiple indicators of competitive balance and the passage of time, a systematic decrease in competitive balance was found for athletics in general, men’s and women’s competition. At discipline-specific level, divergent trends in competitive balance were identified. Based on top-8 point market shares, women’s sprint/hurdles, long-distance running and race walking became systematically more unbalanced, while the medal competition in men’s long-distance running became significantly more balanced. This study informs policy-makers on shifting opportunities for success caused by dynamic changes in the competition and the systematic reduction of competitive balance in specific disciplines.

Convergence and Divergence of Elite Sport Policies: Is There a One-Size-Fits-All Model to Develop International Sporting Success?
Veerle De Bosscher, Simon Shibli, Hans Westerbeek & Maarten van Bottenburg
Journal of Global Sport Management, 1-20. doi:10.1080/24704067.2016.1237203
Download (free copy, max 50)
This study is based on a detailed international comparison of the elite sport policies of 15 nations as part of the SPLISS (Sports Policy Factors Leading to International Sporting Success) study. It aims to provide deeper insights into the phenomena of convergence and divergence of elite sport policies. The research uses a mixed methods approach based on document reviews, interviews with high performance directors and surveys of 3142 athletes, 1376 coaches and 246 performance directors. There appears to be no generic blueprint for achieving international sporting success. Nations that perform well in international competition show varying patterns of relative strengths and weaknesses across nine pillars, 96 critical success factors, and 750 sub-factors. While the basic raw ingredients of the recipe might be common in broad terms, the combinations in which they are mixed are diverse. Much of this diversity appears to be driven by social, cultural and political factors.
KEYWORDS: Elite sport policyconvergencedivergencesuccessfactorsSPLISS

The role of inter-organizational relationships on elite athlete development: The case of tennis in Flanders.
Popi Sotiriadou, Jessie Brouwers, Veerle De Bosscher, Graham Cuskelly
Journal of Sport Management, 2016,
Previous studies acknowledge the importance of sporting organizations developing partnerships with clubs for athlete development purposes. However, there are no studies that address the way partnerships influence athlete progression and pathways. This study explores inter-organizational relationships (IORs) between a tennis federation and tennis clubs in their efforts to improve player development processes. Document analysis and semi-structured interviews with representatives from clubs and the Flemish federation were used. The findings show that the federation and the clubs engaged in IORs to achieve reciprocity and efficiency. The federation anticipated gaining legitimacy and asymmetry, and clubs expected to develop stability. Formal and informal control mechanisms facilitated IOR management. The conceptual model discussed in this study shows the types of IOR motives, management and control mechanisms that drive and influence the attraction, retention/transition, and nurturing (ARTN) processes of athlete development.

A multidimensional approach to evaluate the policy effectiveness of elite sport schools in Flanders.
Veerle Bosscher, Paul De Knop, Jikkemien Vertonghen
Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics, p 1596-1621
The increasing demands of elite sports make it difficult for talented young athletes to balance school and sport. This paper investigates the multi-dimensional policy effectiveness of elite sport schools (ESSs) in secondary education in Flanders. Four hundred and eight elite athletes who graduated from an ESS, and 341 from mainstream schools, completed an online survey. The data showed no clear evidence of more effective outputs (performance), or more positive evaluation of throughputs (processes) by athletes who attended an ESS. Athletes who did not attend an ESS received less support services, but those who did receive such services were generally more satisfied. They were equally satisfied about their coaches’ expertise. Only training facilities were rated generally better in an ESS. The study concluded that evaluating effectiveness of ESS (at input-throughput-output level) requires a tailor-made, sport-specific approach. Furthermore, as ESS is only a small part of a total career, many other factors influence long-term success.
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