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Does sport really benefit people in different communities in Scotland? And if it does what are the benefits? Who benefits and who doesn’t, and what is the evidence?

As part of a series of short research papers commissioned by OSS to stimulate debate, Dr Larissa Davies of Sheffield Hallam University and the Sport Industry Research Centre explored these questions. Below is her easy-to-read paper which tells us some things many of us probably already knew, but also presents fascinating insight and conclusions.

The paper is divided into three sections. The first two draw together and review current evidence on the economic and social impacts of sport and identify the range of benefits that have been measured and valued, both internationally and within Scotland. They include discussion of literature relating to sport participation and volunteering, which are integral to community sport, but exclude literature relating to the quantification of major spectator events, researched in detail elsewhere.

Section three examines the feasibility of using a Social Return on Investment (SROI) framework to value (in monetary terms) the wider social benefits of sport in Scotland. The data requirements of the SROI model are outlined together with sources that could be used for modelling current trends and future scenarios in Scotland. The paper concludes by suggesting ways to improve the quantification of sport participation in Scotland and strengthen the case for public investment in sport.

The OSS is not purely about producing new research. Researchers, students and other university staff have told us that we lack platforms for widespread dissemination, discussion and debate of a huge amount of existing research, much of which is left to gather dust on shelves. So, a key role for OSS is to shine the spotlight on what already exists in Scotland, work with partners to identify gaps in research across sport in its widest sense, recreation, and physical and mental health and wellbeing, and bring stakeholders together to identify sustainable solutions to the problems.

We would like to thank Dr Larissa Davies, Sheffield Hallam University and the Sport Industry Research Centre, for this work. Anyone who would like to work with OSS on other research, get in touch here.

Sport in Scotland :quantifying the benefits. Dr Larissa Davies