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More intelligent data needed to inform and improve Scottish sport

By 6 February 2020October 22nd, 2020No Comments

PEOPLE working across different areas of sport in Scotland have told the OSS that there is a need for improved use and availability of data and analysis.

The OSS is working in partnership with University of Stirling to help improve understanding of community sport and policy decision-making. John Taylor, Lecturer in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport at the University of Stirling, has led a small research study to better understand the research needs of organisations who support and deliver community sport in Scotland.

National governing bodies, councils, leisure trusts, third sector bodies, and sport coaches and administrators contributed to the snap-shot survey in 2019. Preliminary findings suggest that many organisations are active in undertaking research and analysis to inform their decision-making, but there is scope for more to be done to strengthen access to robust data and intelligence. Over half (56%) of respondents indicated their organisations had undertaken internal research/analysis in the last three years, but only one-quarter (25%) indicated they had commissioned external research/analysis. Around half indicated their organisation’s ability to gather, process, analyse or report data was ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, but around one-fifth thought their organisation’s ability to work with data was ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Respondents provided details of the research questions, topics or issues they felt they needed more information on to enhance decision-making. The topic areas on which more evidence/data is desired concerns participation, provision/delivery, benefits of sport/PA, finance/funding, facilities, management and education. More detailed participation data on individual sports is needed along with data that can allow a more detailed understanding of participation at a local level. With regard to provision/delivery this included a desire for up-to-date databases containing information on clubs, coaches and volunteers. There is also a desire for a greater understanding on the positive benefits of sport and physical activity in order to demonstrate the benefits to broader audiences.

The OSS is committed to helping stakeholders to change the culture of declining sport participation over the life cycle in Scotland that starts from the age of 12 years – and is steeper among girls and women – and contrasts with other European countries, by producing more valuable data.

Further analysis and reporting of the survey data is being undertaken and will be shared with stakeholders and the academic/research community to encourage greater collaboration between community sport organisations and universities.