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Declining sports participation?: The problematics of measuring, definitions and satisfactory levels
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2016 (English)In: Book of Abstracts EASS 2016: Sport in the City – Mobility, Urbanity and Social Change / [ed] Adam B. Evans, Glen Nielsen, Lone Friis Thing and Laila Ottesen, Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sport 2016 , 2016, 49-49 p.Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Declining sports participation rates among children and adolescent is a growing concern in Sweden (Centrum för idrottsforskning, 2014), a country which traditionally have had very high activity levels (Breuer et al., 2015). Following on this development a fear of increased incidence of sedentary lifestyles and social exclusion is put forward in several alarm reports. Drawing on sport participation data from four Swedish municipalities, this abstract discusses three problems connected to the measurement of participation which affect the interpretations made, the conclusions drawn and perhaps most importantly – the policy interventions launched to counter the observed trends. While data, at a first glance, show similar participation patterns as those reported in the international literature so far (cf. Breuer et al., 2015; Gratton et al., 2011; Riksidrottsförbundet, 2014) – team sports attracts most participants, participation is higher among boys, participation declines with age – a more fine-grained analysis reveals a slightly different picture. First, it shows that measuring participation by counting the number of participants, which is the measure traditionally used, renders different results than when counting the number of occasions these participants exercise sport. The former measurement is the one causing alarm reports, while the latter shows how participation is actually increasing. Second, it shows that participation in sport is defined as participation in voluntary and membership-based sport club activities. Including also non-traditional activities (gyms, health clubs, dance, etc.), renders different results. The former is causing alarm reports while the latter again shows how participation is actually increasing. Third, and perhaps most importantly when devising policy interventions, the high participation rates revealed by the more fine-grained analysis spurs the question of what rates are acceptable. What rates, other than just declining ones, are needed to avoid alarm reports and expensive interventions?

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Copenhagen: University of Copenhagen, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sport 2016 , 2016. 49-49 p.
Keyword [en]
sports participation; measurement; non-traditional activities; occasions
National Category
Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-120491ISBN: 978 87 9177 164 4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-120491DiVA: diva2:929002
Conference
13th European Sport Sociology Congress. 4-7 May 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Available from: 2016-05-17 Created: 2016-05-17 Last updated: 2016-09-01Bibliographically approved

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