Following urban riots that were extensively covered by the media, the number of sports associations promoting positive youth development grew in France in the 1980s. Despite their social benefit, frequently praised locally and nationally, these associations have had trouble over time because of low numbers of volunteers and lack of funding. An ethnographic study of one such association, in suburban Nantes, sought to understand how the associations work. The description of the career and commitment of the head of this association emphasizes that he acts as much to secure his own future as to help the children he supervises. Professional insecurity has led him to ensure not only the durability of the association, but also his being indispensable to its functioning. He aims to increase the acknowledged legitimacy of the association, developing its program in order to get more subventions. A certain amount of competition among different associations in the same neighborhood is admitted to and accepted, which can work against these associations in reaching their stated goals.
By Tristan Crosnier