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Sport participation 'super-tanker' turning wrong way

Far from being inspired by the Olympics to take up sport, as predicted by Tessa Jowell back in 2007, people are showing less inclination to participate the closer we get to 2012. The most recent survey by Sport England, released in June, which measured participation between April 2010 and April 2011 showed a decline among women, disabled people, white adults and the poorest Britons. The rate of participation also fell among those under 35 and over 55. The only region to show an improvement was the North-West, while in the South-East, which is where most events are happening, and the East Midlands levels of participation declined.

Overall fewer people are now participating in moderately intense sport for thirty minutes three times a week than two years ago.

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport, tried to comfort himself saying: “Trying to turn sports participation around is like turning a super-tanker. You are trying to change people’s behaviour which is a major challenge.”

The problem is the super-tanker seems to be turning in the wrong direction. While there had been an increase up to 2009/10, albeit one which was getting slower every year, since then the move has been backwards at a time when participation was expected to accelerate as the Olympic effect kicked in.

Robertson then aimed a boot at the miscreants saying: 'We are telling all the sports that we are going to be much tougher and we are going to invest in sports that shift their participation figures. The trick is to get sports focused on participation in the way that the better Olympic sports have focused on delivering medals.'

So inspiration isn't going to work then?

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