Classification in sport: A question of fairness
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEuropean Journal of Sport Science. 2021, Artikkel 1923816. 10.1080/17461391.2021.1923816
Competitor classification schemes have been a part of sport since its origins. Eligibility criteria have developed towards inclusion and increasing diversity. The pool of competitors has expanded from the ancient Olympic Games, eligible only to free Greek men, via nineteenth-century English sport favouring primarily the upper class of so-called gentlemen amateurs, to the current global and diverse pool of men, women, children, and able-bodied as well as disabled persons. Hence, the challenge of sound classification schemes has increased. This article examines the principles of fair classification of athletes. With the help of normative theory as well as practical examples, a fair equality of opportunity principle for sport (FEOPs) is formulated. It is demonstrated how sound classification schemes combine the normative backing from FEOPs with relevant scientific insights. Current classification challenges and possibilities for change are discussed. It is suggested that in several sports, biological sex classes can be abandoned, and that in some sports, sex classes can be replaced by body size classes. It is argued, too, that sports in which body height exerts a significant and systematic impact on performance should classify accordingly. In the final part, classification is discussed in light of new techno-scientific possibilities, among them the possibility of innovative performance-enhancing prosthetics.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.