BIG EVENTS DO NOT BOOST PARTICIPATION
The argument that big sport events boost participation is used frequently. Indeed it often comes in relation to the bidding as well as the political process of legitimising the often huge costs of staging big events.
In fact the assertion is incorrect. I could even add that repeating it again and again will not make it any more accurate. Big events do not boost participation!
Research and experience have already shown that participation is not boosted by hosting big events. Fortunately, such research is getting more and more media exposure.
From a grassroots sport point of view these incorrect assertions create a false picture of the reality. They disturbs the understanding of causality in sport and physical activity while painting an incorrect picture of the relationship between participative sport and top level performance sport.
Furthermore it contributes to lowering the profile of the sport sector which then seems to operate on assumptions rather than evidence. Such labels and reputations are very harmful at a time when the demand for facts and evidence is increasing. This especially proves to be true for public authorities and donors. If we want to secure the future of sport, it is therefore of paramount importance that we make sure that we all confront this argument with evidence from the real world – where big events do not boost participation!
Big events do not boost participation – links to facts and comments:
The Health Legacy of the Olympic Games? /by Denis Campbell, British Medical Journal (see also video)
Australia should be demanding and achieving better / by Bonita Mersiades, Strategy and Communications Consultant
Turning Canadas Olympic success into more participation / by Peter Donnelly, University of Toronto
Olympics in London Is it worth the price? / by Stefan Szymanski, University of Michigan and Mogens Kirkeby, International Sport and Culture Association