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Comment: Hosting sport events, elite sport success and elite sport role models have no positive effects on sport participation

By Mogens Kirkeby, ISCA President

The image above is an elite sport organiser's dream when it comes to predicting how much their events and athletes will "inspire" members of the general public to get active. But conclusions made by the the recently published research report titled ‘Effect of Elite Sport on Physical Activity Practice in the General Population: A Systematic Review’ paint a very different picture: “There is no evidence supporting the effect of elite sport in increasing physical activity or sport participation in the general population. Decision makers and policymakers should be aware of this and invest in strategies such as those recommended by the World Health Organization.”

ISCA promotes participation in grassroots sport and recreational physical activity. However, myths such as the claim that hosting sport events and elite sport success have the power to increase sport participation are high hurdles to overcome and strong barriers for our mission. That is a pity, because we need – more than ever – to utilise the cheapest single recipe for healthier lives: being physically active.

For decades, strong commercial interests and the interests of sport organisations have produced and promoted the myth that elite sport events and success increases participation at the grassroots. And they have had ‘success’ with communicating this message, despite the wealth of knowledge and evidence that shows there is no effect.

This new research should dismantle the myths and assist decision-makers to invest in sports participation with actions that are based on reality and facts. This will save both money and lives.

Read the report here

Photo: Mark Spiske/unsplash

Posted on 01/02/2023 by Mogens Kirkeby, ISCA President


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