School Sport is the Answer – What is the Problem?

Since the late 1980s, the Swedish education system has undergone major changes that resulted in the school system being decentralized, market adjusted, and privatized. This has resulted in the creation of local school markets where there is a constant struggle for pupils. During the same period, the presence of school sport has increased significantly, and sport’s function within the school system has been diversified. This article aims to elucidate the needs school sport fills in Swedish secondary schools, and what kind of problems school sport is supposed to solve. The article is empirical, and is based on official statistics and official website information from 854 schools and telephone interviews with principals at 50 selected schools offering school sport. The results show that principals value the school sport by itself, its pupils and teachers, since they bring different forms of important and necessary capital to the schools. Furthermore, the principals’ experience increased competition on the local school market, and school sport can be a possible survival strategy for schools. To conclude this article shows that a side effect of the market adaptation of the Swedish school system is that school sport has evolved into a marketing product for recruiting pupils.