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It is worth noting that the problems of diversity and intolerance in sport can be approached in different ways. Eric Anderson’s new book, which is reviewed elsewhere in this update, is a sociologically based, critical analysis of sport, while George B. Cunningham’s Diversity in Sport Organizations (Holcomb Hathaway), recently published in a second edition, is a traditional textbook that describes the problems and gives instructions on how to deal with them. The first edition was reviewed at in September 2008 by David Cardell. The task of reviewing the updated second edition fell on Sine Agergaard, who concludes that this is an excellent book on how to deal with diversity issues in sport organizations; however, it is problematic in some respects, particularly in terms of its usefulness in other social and organizational contexts than the North American.

Works best in the U.S.

Sine Agergaard
Institute of Exercise and Sport Sciences, University of Copenhagen

George B. Cunningham
Diversity in Sport Organizations: Second Edition
386 sidor, hft.
Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathaway 2011
ISBN 978-1-934432-09-9

George B. Cunningham, who is a professor in the Division of Sport Management at Texas A&M University, and a director for the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport, has authored this impressive textbook about diversity management in sport organizations. The newly published second edition of the textbook now includes chapters on various forms of diversity issues ranging from race, sex, age, mental and physical ability, appearance, religious beliefs, and sexual orientation to social class.

The book is organized in three parts. The first part lays the foundation for the book. Here the concepts of diversity and diversity management are defined. Further you find reflections on the current emphasis on working with diversity issues, discussing among other things the business bottom line argument (that managing diversity will help improve your product) in relation to the social responsibility argument. The first part also includes a theoretical chapter presenting managerial, sociological and social psychological approaches to understanding diversity issues, followed by a chapter with theoretical explanations about prejudice and discrimination.

The second part of the book deals with the various forms of diversity. Here we find eight chapters on race, sex, age, mental and physical ability, appearance, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and social class. Each chapter includes statistics of the representation of different races, sexes, ages etc. in the workplace followed by information and discussion about the diversity issue in relation to sportstakes

The third part of the book moves us into the management of diversity. Here we get an introduction to legal aspects of the various forms of diversity based on information about US laws. In a chapter about managing diverse organizations, we get a presentation of different diversity management strategies, and possible sports industry support to these strategies, as well as diversity management processes. Referring to the fact that most sports organizations are not characterized by diversity and inclusion, Cunningham discusses possible ways in which changes of sports organizations may occur. The last two chapters move further in this direction dealing with diversity and leadership, and diversity training.

All in all this book is an accomplished endeavor covering various forms of diversity and arguing for better diversity management in sports organizations. There are two issues that I find worthwhile discussing, however. First of all, some notes will follow on the usability of this textbook for teaching, and secondly the appropriateness of using the textbook in a Scandinavian context will be discussed.

The textbook provides a high level of service for students and teachers alike. Each chapter opens with a diversity challenge, a real-life example from the field, and in sidebars you have professional perspectives (from interviews with people working professionally with diversity management), and alternative perspectives (providing the readers with alternative sides of a discussion). Each chapter concludes with a summary, questions for discussion, suggestions for learning activities, references to supplementary readings, and useful web resources. As ancillary to the book you can find an instructor’s manual available to the teacher that would like to use this book as textbook. At the publishers’ webpage the book is presented as the textbook where all is included. In other words, there is no need for students (or teachers) to search for literature elsewhere. The textbook seems to be a neat and tidy package, and there is little promotion of the critical sense of students and teachers.

Another point of discussion is the appropriateness of the textbook in the Scandinavian context. In Scandinavia following the civil society model of sport most sports organizations are still run by volunteers usually without professional management training. In other words the suggestions for developing diversity management strategies and promoting diversity training are very far from the daily reality of most Scandinavian sports clubs. Diversity issues are as important for sports organizations in Scandinavia as well elsewhere, but they cannot be seen isolated from the historical and social context. For instance issues related to race and multiculturalism in the US are very different from majority and minority issues in Scandinavia. In other words the book seems to me a wonderful textbook particularly for the American student and teacher, whereas the Scandinavian diversity management book is still to be written.

© Sine Agergaard 2011.

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