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The Gap Between Formalised Children’s Rights and Children’s Real Lives in Sport

The purpose of this paper is to use the theoretical standpoint of sociology of childhood to enhance understanding about how children’s rights, as outlined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, are experienced by child athletes and adult coaches in the context of sport clubs in Sweden. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews with children and coaches in floorball and equestrian sports during the years 2011 and 2012. The results showed that neither child athletes nor adult coaches were aware that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has been incorporated into Swedish sport policy; they also lack knowledge of the convention’s content. After interviews about selected rights were conducted, it was evident that children and adults both considered the themes of those rights to be of utmost importance. However, they did not find the convention meaningful as a policy document, and no systematic, deliberate or preventive work with regard to the rights of the child was experienced in the sport clubs. This paper discusses some challenges in the children’s sport context, including children’s rights, the social ordering of children and adults and the goal of making children’s sport a safe activity for children.