SPORTS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN HUNGARY: THE POSITION OF SPORT IN LOCAL COUNCIL COMMITTEES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

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1 Serbian Journal of Sports Sciences ISSN Original article 2012, 6(2): ID Received: 20 Dec 2011 UDC 352:796/799(439) Accepted: 8 May 2012 SPORTS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN HUNGARY: THE POSITION OF SPORT IN LOCAL COUNCIL COMMITTEES OF LOCAL GOVERNMENTS Gábor Kozma, Zsolt Radics & Károly Teperics Department of Social Geography and Regional Development Planning, University of Debrecen, HUNGARY. Abstract As a result of the increasing significance of sports observable in the past decade, the leaders of Hungarian communities have also begun to pay more attention to this area. An important role in community management is played by local councils, whose decisions are prepared by various sectoral committees. Despite the fact that the scope of the committees work is often wider than can be deduced from their names, we think it stands to reason to examine to what extent sport is present in the names of local council committees. This paper emphasises the following questions with respect to Hungarian settlements with a population of 5000 and districts of Budapest: To what extent is sport present in the committee structures of the local councils?; Which factors influence the presence of sport in the committee structure? The findings of the paper can be summarised in the following: Local governments consider the presence of sport in the committee structure as important, but they primarily deal with this area in combination with other sectors; The number of councillors and the size of the settlement influence the presence of sport in the committee structure. INTRODUCTION Key words: Local council, committee, sports, Hungary As a result of the growing importance of sports noticeable in the past decade, local governments both in Europe and in the United States of America pay increasing attention to this area. Fundamentally, in the background of these processes is the fact that local governments have recognised that sport can play, among other things, a very important role in giving a boost to the local economy and renewing the cities [2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 13]. Research also pointed out that an important factor of success is setting up the appropriate organisational background [4, 9, 10]. In accordance with international trends, since the late 1990s Hungary has also shown evidence of growing awareness by the local governments toward sport [5, 8]. In addition to the reasons outlined above, this process is also justified by the fact that, due to the reductions in central resources, local governments have been forced into supporting the maintenance and development of sports using their own financial resources (Table 1). Hungarian provisions of law related to sport (including, in particular, Act I of 2004 on sport Sárközy [12] put local governments in charge of some very important tasks. Among other things, local governments: determine the local concept of sports development and ensure its implementation; maintain and operate the sports facilities in their ownership; and create the conditions for physical education and sports activities in schools maintained by them. Within local governments in Hungary, one of the most important bodies is the local council elected by the population, the scope of competence of which to make decisions covers all important areas in the given community, including sports-related issues. However, in organising the work of local councils, their various committees (which partly consist of local councillors and partly of outside experts) play a very important role [1]; for example, they prepare decisions and elaborate on development concepts. Despite the fact that the scope of the committees work is often wider than can be deduced from their names, we think it stands to reason to examine to what extent sport is present in the names of local council committees. 71

2 Table 1. The absolute value (Million of Hungarian forints /HUF/) and the distribution (%) of expenses related to sports* among the sub-systems of public finances between 2006 and 2009 * These figures are the amounts allocated in the appropriation accounts acts for each year under F08.a: Sports and leisure time activities and services, which is a broader category than sports alone; however, the figures are indicative of certain tendencies. Source: the appropriation accounts bills for the individual years In this light, the aim of the present paper was to answer the following question with respect to Hungarian settlements with a population of 5000 and districts of Budapest: To what extent is sport present in the committee structures of the councils in case of the local governments examined? Which factors influence the presence of sport in the committee structure of local governments? MATERIALS AND METHODS Public finances (MHUF) Central government budget (%) Local government budget (%) SUBJECTS AND PROCEDURES The source of data was provided by the websites of the communities concerned (277 settlements with a population of 5000 and 23 districts of Budapest), which either directly included information on the committee structure of the local council, or it was contained in the Rules of Organisation and Operations, available among the downloadable materials. For the purposes of analysing the official data according to size of the community, several groups were established (in case of Budapest, such analyses could not be carried out due to the low number of elements). The basis for the categories was the relevant provisions of law (Act L of 2010 on the election of local councillors and mayors [1]), which specifically defined the number of local councillors who can be elected in settlements (Table 2) /Due to their small number, the group of settlements with populations above was not further subdivided/. Table 2. The number of councillors that can be elected in settlements of different sizes settlements residents residents residents residents minimum 17 Source: Act L of 2010 on the election of local councillors and mayors STATISTICAL ANALYSIS All the obtained results were statistically evaluated by the method of descriptive statistics (%). The data were statistically analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences 14.0 (SPSS 14.0.). RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Out of the 277 local governments of the communities examined, 152 had a committee structure in which the word sport was used, and the percentage of 54.9% meant the 8 th position from among the 37 sectors referenced in the names of the committees. In case of local governments in the capital city, the situation was somewhat worse: from among the 23 district local governments, there was such a committee in 9, and the value of 39.1% meant the 10 th to the 12 th place in the list of 29 sectors. The importance of an individual sector within local councils was also reflected to some extent in whether it was the charge of a separate committee or encompassed among several areas under the committee s scope of competence. In the case of settlements an analysis of the situation irrespective of the sectors showed balance (Table 3), as the number of committees dealing with one, two and three or more sectors varied between 30% and 40%. By contrast, the number of committees dealing with three or more sectors was very low in case of district local governments in the capital city. 72

3 Table 3. The most important analysed elements of the committee structures of local councils in the settlements and districts of Budapest examined the number and percentage of committees dealing with a single sector/area the number and percentage of committees dealing with two sectors/areas the number and percentage of committees dealing with three or more sectors/areas settlements districts of Budapest 339 (30.9%) 45 (37.2%) 417 (38.0%) 52 (43.0%) 341 (31.1%) 24 (19.8%) The positive image established by the previous data is significantly deteriorated by the fact that among the settlements and districts of Budapest examined, the number of committees dealing exclusively with sports was below average (Table 4): in the case of other communities there were only two and in the case of districts of Budapest, there were none. In this light, it is hardly surprising that the word sport was only primarily used in the name of committees that had three or more areas of responsibility (Table 5). From among the factors determining the role of sport within the local council, it is primarily the size of the settlement that should be emphasised, which as mentioned above also determines the number of councillors. This is because larger local councils strive to ensure that their committee structure should cover as many areas as possible, which is also reflected in the committee names (Table 6 column A), and consequently, even if shared, sport would typically be one of the areas with which a committee is charged. A direct relationship between the size of the community and the presence of sport in the committee structure was only absent in case of settlements with a population between and (Table 6 columns B and C), but the fact that these were related nevertheless is shown in Table 6, columns D and E. The data indicate that in case of communities with smaller local councils, the proportion of committees dealing with at least two other areas in combination with sport was higher than the average. Table 4. The number of committees dealing exclusively with a single sector in the settlements (A) and in the districts of Budapest (B) examined financial 95 (1st) 13 (1st) procedural 55 (2nd) 5 (3rd) human 46 (3rd) 6 (2nd) social sphere 32 (4th) 2 (7-9th) urban development 25 (5th) 1 (10-12th) economic development 22 (6th) 4 (4-5th) public procurement 19 (7th) 2 (7-9th) education 6 (8th) 2 (7-9th) wealth-declaration 5 (9-10th) 1 (10-12th) asset management 5 (9-10th) 4 (4-5th) culture 4 (11-12th) 1 (10-12th) tourism 4 (11-12th) - health 3 (13-14th) - sport 3 (13-14th) - environmental protection 2 (15-16th) 3 (6th) public safety 2 (15-16th) - international relations 1 (17-18th) - agriculture 1 (17-18th) - A B 73

4 Table 5. The presence of sport in the committee structures of local councils in the settlements (A) and in the districts of Budapest (B) examined 74 the number and percentage of committees dealing exclusively with sport 3 (2.0) 0 (0.0) the number and percentage of committees dealing with one sector/area in addition to sport 11 (7.2) 2 (22.2) the number and percentage of committees dealing with two or more sectors/areas in addition to sport 138 (90.8) 7 (78.2) A more detailed analysis of the committees responsible for other sectors in combination with sport reveals that in settlements with populations of 5000 or higher, sport was combined with 16 different areas in the period examined (Table 7). At the same time, significant differences can be observed among the local councils with respect to whether the committees concerned were in charge of one or more other areas in addition to sport. In the former case, sport was most frequently combined with the issues related to youth and culture. By contrast, in case of committees that combined sport with two or more other sectors, a much more important role was played by culture and education, and youth was only the third in terms of frequency (with health care and social services being the other two areas of considerable weight). In case of the districts of Budapest, it follows from the low number of elements that sport was in a committee with not as many other areas; at the same time, in case of committees involved in at least three sectors, it was the role of education and culture that can be highlighted, similarly as in other communities. Table 6. The role of sport in the committee structures in settlements of different sizes A B C D E residents residents residents residents A the average number of areas covered by a local council as indicated in the names of the committees (piece), B the percentage of a local councils in the given bracket according to size that feature sport in their committee structures (%), C the percentage of local councils in the given bracket according to size that have a committee exclusively dedicated to sport (%), D the percentage of local councils in the given bracket according to size which have a committee in charge of sport combined with another area (%), E the percentage of local councils in the given bracket according to size which have a committee in charge of sport combined with one or two other areas (%) Table 7. The distribution of areas/sectors in case of settlements and districts of Budapest (%) local councils of settlements combining sport with one other sector local councils of settlements combining sport with two or more other sectors A B local councils of districts of Budapest combining sport with two or more other sectors civil family health equal opportunity tourism youth informatics minority environmental protection public safety culture international education social sphere procedural urban development

5 Table 8. The distribution of sectors/areas combined with sport in settlements where the given committee is in charge of at least two other areas in addition to sport (in %; only those areas were examined where the average is at least 5% - Table 7) A B C D average health tourism youth public safety culture education social sphere A settlements with 5001 to residents B settlements with to residents, C settlements with to residents, D settlements with more than residents At the same time, significant differences can be observed between local councils of different sizes in terms of what other areas sport was combined with in the committee structure (Table 8). In case of settlements with populations between 5001 and these were culture and education, with populations between and it was healthcare, with populations between to residents it was youth, while in communities with more than residents it was tourism that had occurrences significantly above the average values. CONCLUSION AND PRACTICAL APPLICATION The findings of the present paper can be summarised in the following major statements: Local councils consider the presence of sport in the committee structure as important, but they primarily deal with this area in combination with other sectors. Local councils other than the district local governments of Budapest pay more attention to ensuring that sport should be reflected in the committee structure. The number of local councillors influences the presence of sport in the committee structure: local councils of larger settlements more frequently establish committees whose names also include sport, but there are no strong relations in this field. Sport is most frequently dealt within the same committee along with the areas of education, culture and youth; at the same time, the size of the local council is also an important factor in this respect. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This paper was supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. REFERENCES 1. Belányi, M., Csalló K.,Feik Cs., Fogarasi J., & Tábi R. (2010). Local Governments. Budapest: HVG-ORAC (in Hungarian). 2. Chalkley, B. & Essex, S. (1999). Urban development through hosting international events: a history of the Olympic Games. Planning Perspective, 14(4), Daniels, N. J., Norman, W. C. & Henry, M. S. (2005). Estimating income effects of a sport tourism event? Annals of Tourism Research, 31(1), Emery, P. (2010). Past, present, future major sport event management practice: The practitioner perspective. Sport Management Review, 13(2), Gémesi, Gy. (2008). The role undertaken by local governments in the area of sports. No sports without local governments: Proceedings of the 9 th International Sports Professional Conference. Budapest, Hungary: The Mayor s Office (in Hungarian). 6. Gold, J. R. & Gold M. M. (2008). Olympic cities: regeneration, city rebranding and changing urban Agendas. Geography Compass, (2)1, Gratton, C., Shibli, S., & Coleman, R. (2005). Sport and Economic Regeneration in Cities. Urban Studies, 42(5-6), Hajdú, P. (2000). Sports under the supervision of local governments after the political transformation, and the opportunities for further development. Hungarian Public Administration, 50(2), (in Hungarian). 75

6 9. King, N. (2009). Sport policy and governance. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. 10. Kluka, D., Stier, W. Jr., & Schilling, G. (2005). Aspects of sport governance. Meyer & Meyer Sport, Oxford, p Maenning, W., & du Plessis, S. (2009). Sport stadia, sporting events and urban development: International experience and the ambitions of Durban. Urban Forum, 20(1), Sárközy, T. (2004). Sport law: explanation of Act I of 2004 on sports. Budapest: HVG-ORAC (in Hungarian). 13. Smith, A. (2005). Reimaging the city: the value of sports initiatives. Annals of Tourism Research, 32(1), Yuen, B. (2008). Sport and urban development in Singapore. Cities, 25(1), Address for correspondence: Gábor Kozma Department of Social Geography and Regional Development Planning, University of Debrecen, H-4032, Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1. HUNGARY 76

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