Although the wider public would think that sport is one of the most democratic subsystems in the society, in the last quarter of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st century substantive empirical research has shown that social inequalities are reflected in sporting practices and more generally in cultural consumption; furthermore, these tendencies may be even stronger. The aim of this study is to analyze social equality or inequality in a special field: in consideration of the new generation of competitive sports. The Hungarian state has started a Sport Talent Care Program (named Heracles Program) to nurture those 14-23 year-old talented young sportsmen, who are to be the future hopes of the country. The purpose of the research was, therefore, to analyze the social background of these young athletes and to discover the existing social inequalities in this population. In addition, the authors examined these sportsmen's affinity for their sport, and whether youngsters perceive sport as a professional activity or just as a beneficial recreational pastime. The results showed that the talented young athletes participating in the state-financed programs come from the middle or upper classes, as they did in 1976. Their parents' qualification level is high; they have good profession and excellent jobs. The number of the lower class-youngsters is almost negligible. From the results, it can also be concluded that sport as a profession is non-appealing for the young. They would like to follow the way of their parents: a good qualification and a decent job in everyday life. Nowadays competitive sports - already at a young age - demands hard work all day. These young people invest the bulk of their time and substantial energy into competitive success, thus there are permanent conflicts between them and their environment (parents, coaches, leaders of the club), and even within the athletes themselves.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.