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MA57 Consulting

Life is not a sport for spectators


I have always been involved and committed in sport – as an athlete, coach, volunteer, researcher, communicator and spectator. My educational background is a master degree in Political Science and Physical Education and I have five chapters of my work life with different perspectives of sport. I have extensive theoretical knowledge and many practical experiences about the value of sport. My knowledge and experiences are obtained from youth education, higher education and research institutions, and the daily life of Danish and international elite sport.

For more than three decades I have worked with top athletes, coaches, high performance managers and researchers. In addition, I have worked with many municipalities, clubs, federations and organizations as well as some of Denmark’s largest private companies. Finally, I have many experiences as chairman and member of boards, voluntary organizations, federations, associations and public institutions. Today I have a number of collaborators whom I appreciate and which I solve different types of tasks for and along with. Because – Life is not a sport for spectators!

Blogs

Putin, State-run doping and a new (inter)national Act

September 2, 2020

Will be published soon ….

 

 

 

 

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Should Danish Elite sport be supervised?

August 8, 2020

Elite sports have a very low priority by the politicians of the Danish Parlament (Folketing) and the government ministers, except when they are guests at the Confederation of Danish Sports (DIF) during the Olympic Games or prizes are to be awarded at annual TV galla shows where Denmark’s best athletes are honored. During the coming autumn, however, the parliamentary parties will, for only the third time in four decades, discuss Danish elite sports in an international perspective. The background for the additions to the Act on Elite Sports is primarily the so-called “swimming case”, which stems from DR’s documentary broadcast: “Swimming stars – below the surface” (April 21, 2019) and the Chamber Advocate’s subsequent report: “Investigation of conditions for elite swimmers in the Danish Swimming Federation” was published on February 7, 2020. On the basis of the “swimming case” – and similar cases in e.g. Badminton Denmark and the Danish Orienteering Federation – on non-well-being, violations and unacceptable behavior, the Minister of Culture decided a few weeks ago that “… there is a need to change the rules regarding, the composition of the Team Denmark board to emphasize Team Danmark’s supervisory obligation, strengthen the athletes’ voice and minimize potential conflicts of interest/incapacity in Team Danmark’s board ”(Press release from the Ministry of Culture, July 2, 2020).

Elite sports at the international level are a selective and exclusive system

This is not a thorough revision of the existing Act on Elite Sport, but only additions. It is, in my opinion, both inappropriate and annoying. There is more than ever a need for politicians to put words to and direction for the most important purpose(s) of Danish elite sports in an international context. The first section of the Act on Elite Sport states that “… Team Denmark is a public, self-governing institution that aims to develop Danish elite sports in a  socially manner” – but develop Danish elite sports for what? Today, there is an unfortunate mix of targets or means in relation to the overall aim of the Act. Sporting results are e.g. not specifically mentioned, neither in the main clause of the Act nor in the 12 tasks described by the Act. However, it is pointless not to view Team Denmark’s work from an international results perspective, ie. good sporting results at international events such as the Olympic Games, the World Championships and the European Championships – but certainly not at any price. Sexual offenses, dispensing of medicine without medical approval or the like do not (nor) belong in the world of sports, but examples of e.g. non-well-being and eating disorders will always occur in certain training environments. Likewise, it is my opinion that “… elite sports at the international level is a selective and exclusive system where athletes can and must be deselected. Far from everyone thrives in such a system. Yes – maybe it’s really the fewest. There will always be a power relationship between athlete and coach, as the coach’s task is to deselect and prioritize among the athletes. For that reason, it is also pointless to compare elite sports environments with, for example, workplaces and educational institutions, where inclusion and social care are core values ​​”(” Will all that talk of well-being force Danish athletes down from the medal podium “, Jyllands-Posten,  July 8, 2020 ).

Will the additions to the Act on Elite Sports have consequences for Team Denmark’s next support programme or and the contract with the Ministry of Culture?

If the Minister of Culture and the parties in the Parlament (Folketing) fail to discuss and take a position on the most essential issue in the discussion of Danish elite sports in an international perspective – the overall aim(s) and direction of development of Danish elite sports – it will be exciting to follow the consequences. partly for Team Denmark’s support programme 2021-2024 and partly for the contract between Team Denmark and the Ministry of Culture in the same period. The latest 4 support programme (2005-2020), which define who, what and how Team Denmark can support athletes, teams and federations and the latest three contracts between Team Denmark and the Ministry of Culture (2009-2020) have emphasized that the most important aim has been to ” … Team Denmark-supported federations must perform at the highest international level and win medals at the European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games. At the same time, Denmark as a nation must place in the Top-5 among nations under 10 million inhabitants and in the Top-25 among all nations measured on international rankings ”(Contract between Team Denmark and the Ministry of Culture 2017-2020, February 2017). Will objective, measurable sporting results have the same value and significance when the additions to the Act on Elite Sports enter into force on 1 January 2021 or will other objectives achieve higher priority at the request of Team Denmark and/or the Minister of Culture?

An “independent” function can be a completely wrong solution

With the additions to the Act on Elite Sports, as mentioned earlier, the Minister of Culture wishes to strengthen Team Denmark’s supervisory obligation, so that the institution “… is obliged to supervise that the rules and guidelines that apply to Team Denmark and that Team Denmark lays down are complied with, and that the work of the federations and similar partners with whom Team Danmark collaborates takes place in accordance with Team Danmark’s ethical and social guidelines”and“… Team Danmark establishes an independent function with a specially appointed person that athletes, coaches and others can contact them if they experience unacceptable behavior in the training and competition environments that Team Denmark collaborates with. The independent function refers directly to Team Denmark’s board ”. The most interesting thing about the above addition, however, is that “… Team Denmark is responsible for establishing and preparing a detailed description of the independent function after discussion with the athletes’ representatives and the involvement of the Danish Data Protection Agency. The description of the function must appear in Team Denmark’s articles of association ”(Proposal for the Act on Elite Sports, the Act on the Promotion of Integrity in Sport and the Act on the Distribution of Profits from the Lottery, July 2020). However, it will be paramount to the value and quality of an “independent” function that the general legal principles of separation between a legislative, executive and judicial power apply. If Team Denmark’s Board of Directors is to be both a legislative and judicial institution with a “specially appointed person” with reference to Team Denmark’s Board of Directors as executive institution, this will be a very unfortunate construction. I have always been very concerned when sports organizations – or others – have established and developed “parallel systems” for the general courts. And precisely in relation to elite sports, where the “work”  by training and competitions rests on a legal basis, conflicts, disputes and serious disagreements should be decided in general courts when a party – athlete, coach, sports director, federation or others – experiences an offense by a counterparty. The greatest strengths in ordinary courts are that all actors have the right and duty to testify and that all statements are made under the responsibility of witnesses. Media and public debate are absolutely central in any democratic legal society, but interpretation, punishment and sanctions in relation to society’s laws and rules – including the Act on Elite Sports – must be handled by the courts and not by other bodies.

Capacity applies to everyone – except the members of the Confederation of Danish Sport’s (DIF) board members

The additions to the Act on Elite Sports also contain some positive changes, not least in relation to the capacity of board members. The Minister of Culture proposes that “… members of Team Denmark’s board may not at the same time be employed in the Confederation of Danish Sports or federation under the Confederation of Danish Sports or be a member of the board of a federation under the Confederation of Danish Sports (DIF)”. In my opinion, Team Denmark should be an independent, professional knowledge institution without board members with narrow sports policy and financial self-interests. It is very positive that the Minister of Culture – after the grotesque mixing of interests with the CEO of the Danish Swimming Federation, who was nominated by DIF to Team Denmark’s board – now proposes that this can not take place in the future. But it is still extremely unfortunate that board members of the Confederation of Danish Sports (DIF) can still – also – be board members of Team Denmark. Over the years, there have been a number of cases, including The Danish Volleyball Federation’s lawsuit against Team Denmark (2010-2011) and the case  regarding the location of a national elite sports center (2011-2014), where several of Team Denmark’s board members nominated by DIF had more than difficulty finding out which interests they represented: Team Denmark or the Confederation of Danish Sports. In my opinion, there are no reasons for the special status of DIF’s board members – in relation to DIF’s members: Board members and employees in the federations – when it comes to membership of Team Denmark’s board.

You can read about my views and attitudes regarding Act on Elite sports and the “swimming case” in the following blogs:

  • In deep water – Act on elite sports, incapacity and power relations (25 April 2019) – https://ma57.dk/paa-dybt-vand-lov-om-eliteidraet-inhabilitet-og-magt-relationer/
    Continued in deep water – A lifebuoy was thrown, but without land in sight (May 10, 2019) –
    https://ma57.dk/fortsat-paa-dybt-vand-en-redningskrans-blev-kastet-men-uden-land-i-sigte/
  • The dream that was shattered by power politics and a foolish lease agreement (November 18, 2019) – https://ma57.dk/droemmen-som-blev-knust-af-magtpolitik-og-en-taabelig-lejeaftale/
    “Study of the conditions for elite swimmers in the Danish Swimming Union” – Personal comments (9 February 2020) – https://ma57.dk/undersoegelse-af-forholdene-for-elitesvoemmere-i-dansk-svoemmeunion/

 

 

 

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With the body into the culture – Gleam of light in Sport history

July 24, 2020

Did you know that love affairs between young athletes and between them and older men who took care of their upbringing were part of daily life in ancient schools, that gladiatorial battles in the Roman Empire between armed men and against animals were extremely bloody and often fatal, that the Danish health apostle and sportsman JP Müller at the beginning of the last century published a book on gymnastics: “My system”, which was sold in more than 1 million copies both in and outside Europe, that Niels Bukh – the founder of the Academy of Physical Education in Ollerup – and Ragnhild Hveger – The Danish female athlete of the century was extremely closely associated with and admired by Nazi Germany before and during World War II, that the GDR – with only 17 million inhabitants during the Cold War – became the second best nation at the 1976 Olympic Games, the 1980 Olympic Games and the 1988 Olympic Games using a systematic state doping system, that China spent $ 40 billion on hosting the 2008 Olympic Games to gain political, economic and sporting superpower status, and that Russia and Putin’s biggest sporting prestige project until now – the 2014 Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games – had a total cost of $ 55 billion, or more than all previous Olympic Winter Games combined. This knowledge and much, much more you can get in the book “With the body into the culture – Gleam of light in Sports history” (Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2020), which has just been published. The book is written by Hans Bonde, dr.phil. in history and professor at the Department of Physical Education and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen with the participation of sports historian Stanis Elsborg, who is an analyst at the Danish Sports Studies (IDAN) and Play the Game.

Much more than a textbook

The book’s primary target group is high school students and teachers, but it is also aimed at students and teachers at seminars, university colleges and universities as well as people who are interested in the body as a historical, cultural, political and identity phenomenon. Primarly, the book is a textbook, which i.a. illustrated by the many tasks, analyzes, tour guides and questions contained in the book’s six chapters. The book consists of an impressive historical source material, both in texts and pictures, which gives rise to and the opportunity for learning and immersion in the reader. And the two historians demonstrate throughout the book that they possess “knowledge of human beings and the world”, which is crucial to be able to ask and answer questions in a qualified way. In addition, the book is supplemented by a number of podcasts on the channel “Mediano Sport & Perspektiv”, where Bonde and Elsborg elaborate and discuss the book’s main topics. The new channel, which also contains a number of current broadcasts on sports and politics, has become a collaboration between the Danish Sports Studies (IDAN) and the dissemination portal Idrætshistorie.dk.

It is a difficult and complicated task to review and analyze the body as a phenomenon from ancient Greece to today’s Olympic Games. For this reason, the authors have also been forced to make a number of opt-outs and instead focus on selected main body and sports history topics: Sports in Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire (500 BCE – 480 BCE), the Danish gymnastics pioneer J.P. Müller and the modern breakthrough (1870-1890), the Danish-German sports cooperation before and during World War II (1933-1945), sport as a means of power politics during the Cold War (1948-1991) and the super power nations China and Russia’s use of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi as national political propaganda.

Source criticism and methodological insight are very importent tools among students and teachers

Unfortunately, in my opinion, there are fewer and fewer high school students, students and teachers who have secure and strong methodological insight and knowledge in relation to source criticism and methodological key concepts. Therefore, the first chapter of the book: “Historical method and theory” is a really good starting point for the following five chapters. Through the use of pictures, films, symbols and sources, the reader is introduced to concepts such as historical awareness and use, credibility and tendency, primary and secondary sources, first- and second-hand witnesses, communication model, visual analysis, “soft” and “hard power” and imaginative national communities. This is a compulsory curriculum if the readers’ skills in sports history is to be expanded and nuanced.

Sports, body culture and politics – from ancient Greece to Putin’s 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi

Many books on sports and body culture in ancient Greece have been published, both in Denmark and abroad. The reason for this is the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937), who wanted to improve the upbringing and education of children and adolencents through sport. Coubertin was very inspired by the Olympic Games of ancient and not least that adolencents through sports and fair competitions can learn to behave according to certain rules and acquire certain values. In addition, Coubertin also had a vision that sport can be a means to make the world better and more peaceful, i.a. by meeting youth from all over the world every four years to create peace and understanding between people. And in 1896, Coubertin succeeded in reviving the Olympic Games, albeit in a form and content that is far from the form and content we know today.

There is a connection between the ancient and the modern sports culture, but Bonde and Elsborg also succeed in a distinguished way in pointing out some significant breaks between the role of sport in ancient Greece and the modern Olympic Games, which we have experienced them in recent decades. Slightly simplified, one can say that the ancient sport was completely intertwined with the culture of society in the form of religion, democracy, politics, war, art and sexuality. Today, in my opinion, the Olympics are completely intertwined with gigantic commercial interests between super power nations, multinational sponsors and international TV companies, which strive for an entertainment show without too much disruption. That conclusion was only confirmed after having personally experienced the 2008 Olympic Games and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games up close and partly having read the book’s chapter on “Today’s Olympic Games: Beijing 2008 and Sochi 2014”.

New knowledge abounds in the chapter on the Danish gymnastics pioneer J.P. Müller, which is based on Bonde’s latest research: “The Health Apostle J.P. Müller, volume 1: The bodily modern breakthrough ”(Syddansk Universitetsforlag, 2020). The modern breakthrough is most often associated with a spiritual, democratic and literary break-up, but Bonde adds a new dimension to the break-up: a sensuous-erotic break-up, which the health educator J.P. Müller became a pioneer for. Müller’s individual, holistic gymnastics also focuses on nutrition, smoking, sleep, underwear, room temperature, sex and the care of teeth, mouth, throat, hair and feet – and the liberated. naked body thus became a violent revolt against Victorian contemporaries at the end of the last century.

There is also plenty of new knowledge in the chapter on “The Cold War in the Arena”, where sports in the 1970’s and 1980’s became a very useful means in the battle between the Eastern Bloc with the USSR in front and the Western Bloc with the United States in front. Not least the battle between the two Germany: GDR and BRD in the sports arenas and not least in the doping laboratories during the Cold War is at the same time both fascinating and frightening reading. The break of the Wall and the reunification of Germany is in my opinion one of the greatest and best events in world history, where sport – and not least the “new” Germany’s World Cup triumph in football in 1990 – gained incredible importance for the Germans’ self-understanding and identity.

We do not understand the present or the future – without knowing the past

The French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) has stated that “nothing changes as often as the past. Each generation creates its own historical picture”. The book “With the body into the culture – Gleam of light in Sports history” can help to give our generation a really good frame of reference to understand and explain our historical picture(s) about the body in the culture… for better or worse. Enjoy reading – MA

You can get more information about the book here:

Idrætshistorie.dk – http://idraetshistorie.dk/med-kroppen-ind-i-kulturen/
Mediano – Sport & Perspektiv – https://www.mediano.nu

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  • “Michael Andersen is one of Denmark’s most experienced and competent CEO’s with a lot of knowledges and experiencies from the international world of sports. In the period as CEO of Team Denmark, Michael renewed the organization, which gave our top-athletes, teams and federations the opportunity to achieve outstanding results in international topsport”
    Finn Lund AndersenCEO of AS3 – Public Sector (2013 -), Director of Human Ressources and Communication at Salling Group A/S (2007 – 2013) and Director of Human Ressources at TDC (1997 – 2007).
  • “Throughout recent years, Danish School Sports has undergone an exciting development as an organization. In this connection, we have made use of Michael Andersen’s extensive professional competencies and knowledge within school sports, strategy and organization. His work has given us new perspectives, both on our self-understanding and future potentials. We have greatly appreciated our collaboration and, not least, the way he has shown respect to us. I have always appreciated Michael’s honesty and his direct behavior”. 
    Finn Kristensen, Chairman of the Danish School Sports (2012 -) and Principal at at Hellebjerg Idrætsefterskole (2019 – ).
  • ”I know Michael Andersen from his time as CEO of Team Denmark. Michael was an incredibly skillfull manager who also had focus at the individual athlete. He took the time to going into the individual topics and challenges of the athlete and he was also very solution-oriented. Moreover, he is a down-to-earth person who is comfortable with being around ”.
    Maja Alm, orienteering – Denmark’s most winning orienteering runner with a total of 16 World Championship medals, including 4 WC gold medals in the sprint distance (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) and 3 World Championships in relay (2015 and 2016)
  • “Michael Andersen is an excellent manager. His human and professional skills enable him to quickly analyze the situation of human beings and teams, thus giving them the optimal coaching, which is the foundation of good performance. I have had the pleasure of the coaching both in the competitive situation and in a negotiating situation, and in both cases Michael’s analytical skills contributed to good results”.
    Kasper Hvidt, handball – European Championship (2008), 4 Danish Championships and 2 Spanish Championships. Today sports manager of “Astralis” – One of the world’s best Counter-Strike teams (E-sports).
  • “Michael Andersen has some unique skills in coaching and to advicing the individual athlete, teams and the federation. He is always very passioned and incredibly well informed. With considerered decisions and clear communication, Michael is able to manage even the most complex negotiations and difficult situations ”.
    Thomas Jacobsen, sailing – High Performance Manager at Dansk Sailing Federation (2009 -) and Olympic gold medalist (2000).
  • “Michael Andersen is one of the best managers I have experienced and been lucky to work with. He was a very active person in relation to optimizing relationships for me and my teammates, so that we were able to win medals at international championships such as the Olympics, the World Championships and the European Championships. In addition, he was a crucial factor when resolving conflicts – and exceptionally good at finding good solutions for both parts in conflicts. As CEO of Team Denmark, Michael has always been aware of our demands, wishes and needs as world-class athletes.
    Christinna Pedersen, badminton – Olympic bronze medal (2012) and Olympic silver (2016), World Championship silver medal (2015) and World Championship bronze medals (2013, 2014 and 2017).  
  • “Michael Andersen has a very high level of professional knowledge and a unique network of elite sports in the Nordic countries, both in relation to research institutions, elite sports organizations, federations and clubs. As editor of “Idrott & Kunskap”, Michael has been a great inspiration for developing the journal – from a Swedish journal to a Nordic journal and in the longer term an international journal with English as language. Michael is also a really talented writer with a great overview and insight into many different topics in international elite sports and research. It is also characteristic of Michael that he always prioritize the dissemination of knowledge from researchers to coaches to benefit of the athletes”.

    Christian Carlsson, editor – “Idrott & Kunskap” (2004 – )