Skip to main content

THE OSS took part in a discussion on BBC Scotland’s Drivetime where presenter John Beattie posed the questions of how sport participation in Scotland was changing and how new Olympic sports were viewed.

This followed the popularity of surfing, skateboarding, sport climbing and karate as new sports in the Tokyo Olympic Games. OSS Chief Executive David Ferguson and Ambassador Ali Hay, Scotland’s leading Ninja Warrior and an enthusiastic skateboarder, took part in the discussion with surfer Scott Mitchell from the Scottish Surfing Federation. Listen here:

Hay explained the fast growing sport of ‘Ninja’, where youngsters are literally flying through obstacle courses and testing their strength and daring, which has become a leading TV show and global franchise attracting children and young people.

Ferguson explained: “There has been quite a shift going on globally for some time, from traditional, club-orientated to that wider variety of sport, and more casual sport for various reasons. When we look particularly at children, we have lost that old street playground environment, and playing until dark, and many traditional sports have moved into nice, safer facilities, and no matter how hard those facilities work to attract people they are out of reach of many, particularly in deprived communities because they cost and need parents often to take children to them, so youngsters inevitably migrate to fun activities that don’t cost or require parental help.

“The world has also changed and teenagers have lots more options, so they don’t have to put up with poor or even abusive coaching on muddy parks anymore because they have a lot more options. Research shows that children still want to play sports, and be out there doing things with their friends, but if it’s not fun they don’t have to stick at it any longer because they have many more options.”

Mitchell praised the inclusion of surfing in the Olympic Games, adding: “It’s amazing to see surfung included [in the Olympics] as well as all the other sports. For many people it’s not what you would call an in your face choice of sport so it needs that social highlight through the Olympics for people to realise it’s a sport. I didn’t realiseas a kid I could go surfing in Scotland because I didn’t see any f it on TV, so it’s great to see it and what it can give the Scottish Siurfing Federation and British surfing, to help push individuals who surf to a higher level just because of the Olympics.”

Ferguson added: “We have seen traditional sports losing players, but those who are changing and adapting are finding ways to bring children in to sport. We have as many children playing sport to the age of ten as we’ve ever had, but they start to drop off significantly from 11 and 12, and we have to do something about it because it’s having an effect on health, education and wider society. But as you’ve heard from Ali, a great ambassador for the OSS, who we’ve brought in to learn from, if we listen to these people we will have kids involved and traditional sport is still as important as it has always been.”