ISCA Secretariat: Vester Voldgade 100, 2, DK-1552 Copenhagen, Denmark - CVR 29 50 05 41 Tel: +45 29 48 55 51 / [email protected]


Creating Moving People – building blocks and angles of attack

Comment by ISCA President Mogens Kirkeby.

I have the opportunity to give presentations about sport participation in a variety of international and national contexts. All situations are different but one illustration is useful when trying to frame the common challenge. In settings where the aim is to promote physical activity and recreational sport – even though the cultural, political, social and economic situations may be different – we all have the same ‘building blocks’ at hand and some angles of attack.


Well, not all building blocks are always at hand in the right size, but as a model for understanding it works.

Basically, I see four main building blocks. That is: ‘Hardware’, ‘Software’, ‘Orgware’* and ‘Behaviour Design’. And roughly two ways to address the development and change, namely: ‘Top Down’ and ‘Bottom Up’.


‘Hardware’ is understood as facilities, equipment, gadgets; ‘Software’ primarily as the immaterial programmes, courses and human instruction, and motivation; ‘Orgware’ as the organisational setup that should govern, structure and support sport participation. Organisation can, from this perspective, be any type – private, public, non-profit, etc.


And last the new kid on the block is ‘Behaviour Design’, which in this case is the right mix of ‘hardware’, ‘software’ and ‘orgware’ that can trigger and motivate human beings to act differently – in our case to become more physically active.


With these building blocks we can ‘attack’ the challenge from either the ‘Top Down’ or ‘Bottom Up’.

Top Down is understood as overall decisions and initiatives taken far away from the human beings/citizens that we would like to motivate to move more. That could be national or even international policies and actions plans, such as the ‘Australia Sport 2030’ plan with the aim that Australia should be the most sportive nation by 2030, or when the Mayor of Paris announces that Paris should be the best running city in the world.


A Bottom Up approach is, on the other hand, where we address and enter into dialogues, planning phases, and so on directly with the citizens we would like to encourage to be more active.


It is all about creating the right mix, at the right time to the right target groups. For example, the vision to make Paris the best running city in the world will probably take some ‘Hardware’ such as new infrastructure and adaptations of existing spaces for running. It will probably also take a lot of ‘Software’, ‘Orgware’ and Behaviour Design to influence the motivation and actions of runners.


One of the latest examples of a Top Down initiative is the World Health Organisation’s new Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030. It is a Top Down initiative composed of policy recommendations within four areas. Some of the suggested policies are directed at the ‘Hardware’, some aim at the ‘Software’ and ‘Behaviour Design’ – and for sure all of them need an amount of mobilisation of organisations and institutions to make the paper more than just a report. To Walk the Talk in other words!


*The three elements of Hardware, Software and Orgware in a sport participation context are introduced by Remco Hoekman. I have added the new kid on the block ‘Behaviour Design’. Therefore, at this moment it is also suitable to refer to Remco Hoekman’s new book “Sport policy, sport facilities and sport participation” where he examines how sport policies at national and municipal levels in the Netherlands do influence sport participation. The book is hereby recommended.

Comment originally published on LinkedIn