Discourses of Social Exclusion in British Tennis: Historical Changes and Continuities

By Robert Lake.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 20, 2014 $US5.00

Contemporary broader government policy surrounding “social exclusion” has tended to characterise it in largely negative terms. Contemporary sport policy in British tennis is no different. Every player excluded from grass-roots participation represents a wasted opportunity to develop talent. Thus, “inclusion” and “accessibility” feature today, and have for some time, at the core of contemporary policy from the Lawn Tennis Association, which as an organisation has come to judge itself based on broad participation figures and elite level success, which are often considered incompatible. Such measurements of an association’s performance reflect broader political concerns and objectives, and also ignore the sport’s elitist past, which actually celebrated the exclusion of particular societal groups as a major positive factor in its rapidly growing popularity among the socially aspirational British middle classes. This paper will take a historical perspective with regard to discourses of social exclusion in British tennis, and consider the ways in which exclusive features of the sport have been both celebrated as a means of enhancing its prestige and criticised for contributing to declining British performances. Such discourses will be positioned within broader historical contexts of shifting class relations, Empire decline, burgeoning commercialism in sport, and the increasing accountability among sport governing bodies.

Keywords: Britain, Tennis, Social Exclusion

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, June 2014, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 20, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 276.979KB)).

Dr. Robert Lake

Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada