III. Teaching Approaches

This section provides examples for teaching methods and learning-objectives, including more detailed questions that can be raised to trigger in-class discussions, for group work, or for individual assignments.

a. Suggested Learning Objectives

Sport and human rights is a multidisciplinary topic with a vast number of learning objectives that can be covered depending on the field and level of studies, and depending on the cognitive level that is pursued...

Some general learning objectives for students from any sport - or human rights - related field may include: 

  • Understanding the links between sport and human rights and explaining, with concrete examples, the human rights harms and opportunities that can occur within the context of sport.
  • Understanding the diverse actors involved in sport business and/or governance and their human rights responsibilities and obligations.
  • Understanding different mechanisms to pursue (legal) remedies for human rights violations in the context of sport.
  • Understanding the opportunities of sport to promote and protect human rights.
  • Understanding the autonomy of sport in relation to international human rights law.
  • Applying the principal sources of international human rights standards to the human rights risks posed by sport and the involved actors.
  • Analysing the accountability gap for sport-related human rights harms and being able to explain the difficulties in establishing responsibility and accountability for sport-related human rights abuses.
  • Analysing the relevance of, and evaluating human rights policies in sport and human rights provisions in other sport-related regulation, such as event contracts or bidding requirements.
  • Analysing key actors involved in sport events and their potential human rights challenges and dilemmas.
  • Evaluating the potential of sport to promote human rights, including sport as a business and sport events.

b. Suggested teaching methods

There are multiple ways to teach sport and human rights and any of the related sub-themes...

The UN Declaration on Human Rights Education & Training provides a framework of education ‘about human rights’, education ‘through human rights’, and education ‘for human rights’. These three approaches work well in the sport context: sport can be used to educate students about human rights principles, values and instruments, by looking at how in the sport context human rights become relevant and can be violated. Sport can also help to teach through human rights, by following human rights values with the teaching, through creating a participatory climate, organising field trips to create first hand experiences, or including those whose rights have been harmed or protected by sports in the teaching, for instance as guest speakers. Finally, sport can be a useful tool to teach for human rights, as it can help to empower students and make them aware of their rights and the need to respect rights of others, as well as to teach critical citizenship skills and solidarity to create relationships beyond the classroom.

The chosen teaching method depends to a great extent on the learning objectives. For some a lecture and instructor-focused way of teaching might be adequate, for others a more student-centred approach could lead to better results. In general, the topic of sport and human rights offers itself to all kinds of teaching methods and formats, from problem-based to project-based learning, from practical case studies to more theoretical big picture studies, from entire courses to single guest-lectures.

A good way to teach the key challenges connected to the human rights impact of sport is through open discussions or group work that gives students the opportunity to figure out these challenges on their own. Discussions can be triggered by presenting a case of sport-related human rights infringements, by showing a video for example, and letting students discuss, in pairs or larger groups, the human rights issues connected to these cases and how to address them. To prompt the discussion, teachers can ask students how human rights abuses come about and which actors contributed to them, and what are possible ways to deal with these cases.

MSEs and their human rights risks is a topic within sport and human rights that can be integrated in many different sport- and human rights-related programs and it also provides a good example for the various teaching methods available. It can be integrated as a case study within a broader course or seminar on business and human rights. It can also be used to give sport law students a long- or medium-term group work project that asks them to develop the legal framework for bidding for an event, including adequate human rights provisions. There could also be a lecture in a sport sociology program on the differences in terms of media representation of female athletes versus male athletes. Sport event and management programs could assign students to develop a human rights strategy as part of the bidding criteria for a certain event. Each of these options provides opportunities for integrating more in-depth knowledge lectures or seminars that provide theory and context of the issue.

c. Key questions to study

General; for business students; for human rights and law students; for policy students; for sports and physical education students; for management students; for sociology students...


  • Which actors are involved in the sport ecosystem and what is the relationship between them?
  • What roles do different actors play in protecting and promoting human rights in the context of sport?
  • What standards, guidelines and international treaties are in place and applicable to cases of sport-related human rights violations?

For business students

  • What human rights risks do corporate actors in the world of sport (sponsors, broadcasters, contractors) face? What human rights risk might they pose through their actions?
  • What standards, tools, or guidelines exist to help companies operate responsibly and be human rights-compliant in the sport business?
  • To what extent do the UN Guiding Principles apply to sport?
  • What are the incentives for companies to apply the UNGPs to their sport-related operations, such as sponsorship, marketing, broadcasting, or procurement? What evidence is there that companies are doing this?
  • How are international sport associations similar to, and different from, private corporations?
  • How can a company involved in the sport business implement human rights standards and make sure that its sub-contractors follow the same standards?

For human rights and law students

  • What kinds of human rights violations have been linked to sport?
  • Which international and regional human rights standards are relevant in the sporting context? To what extent are the different actors involved bound by human rights obligations?
  • What are the legal relationships between the different actors involved in sport?
  • How can international law and international human rights law be used to address cases of sport-related human rights violations?
  • What are the shortcomings of international human rights law and national legal frameworks that create an accountability gap for sport-related human rights violations? How can this gap be addressed?
  • What mechanisms are in place to provide remedies to victims of human rights abuse? What challenges do rights holders face?
  • How can host countries incorporate human rights standards in sport-related policies and legislation?
  • How has local and national legislation, in particular human rights-related or -relevant legislation been impacted by the hosting of major sporting events in different jurisdictions?

For policy students

  • What roles do government actors play in sport and which tasks do they have?
  • What is the relationship of government actors with other stakeholders involved in sport? How can public authorities collaborate with civil society and local communities to ensure a sustainable and responsible delivery of a sport event?
  • How can local communities be engaged when governments adopt sport-related policies and legislation?
  • How can women and men be equally included in participatory (sport policy creation) processes?
  • What is the potential of MSEs to bring human-rights-friendly policy changes to host countries? Could such a policy be reflected in the standards imposed on companies involved in the MSE business?
  • What are the human rights standards for MSE-related procurement? How can procurement processes be made more human rights-friendly?
  • What can host governments do to fight human rights risks related to corruption within the sport business?

For sports and physical education students

  • What role can and do athletes play in the protection and promotion of human rights through sport?
  • What mechanisms do athletes have to claim their rights in case these have been violated in the sporting context?
  • What is the relationship between athletes and sport governing bodies? Do they have voice or are represented in these organisations?
  • What human rights can be potentially violated with respect to athletes? How can athletes’ human rights violations be related to their gender?
  • To what extent should athletes enjoy special protection regarding human rights? Can they be considered a vulnerable group?

For management students

  • How can day-to-day sports, including elite and grassroots sport, best be managed to minimise human rights risks and prevent human rights abuses?
  • How can MSEs best be managed to minimise human rights risks and prevent human rights abuses?
  • What human rights risks are related to managing sports clubs and leagues?
  • What are the different human rights risks across the different sport disciplines?
  • What are human rights risks in relationships with business partners of sport clubs or sport bodies?

For sociology students

  • What is the relationship between sport as social phenomenon, culture, and human rights?
  • What are the societal implications of how women sports are represented in the media?
  • What impact can growing awareness on sport-related human rights risks have on participation in sport?
  • What are the opportunities for promoting human rights through disability sports?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the complex actor network in the world of sport in promoting human rights?
  • What (human rights) challenges do the current gender categories of sport bring with it?