Sport Participation in Scotland: Trends and Future Prospects
The Observatory for Sport in Scotland has published new research which suggests Scotland is becoming a “divided nation” of the sporting ‘haves’ and ’have-nots’.
The research, produced by Nick Rowe, the former Head of Research Strategy at Sport England, supported by Sheffield Hallam University, studied data going back ten years in Scotland and warns of a growing ‘inactive class’.
Nick Rowe stated: “Viewed through the lenses of gender and social class Scotland is a dividing sporting nation. The structural inequalities of gender and class in sport participation appear entrenched in Scottish society with little change over the last ten years despite public policy prioritising these groups, and … there is little reason to believe this pattern will not persist over the next 10 years and beyond.
“There are worrying signs that young people’s participation in sport is starting to decline … and the evidence points to the next generation of Scots being more inactive and less sporty than their parents and grandparents were at the same age with the consequences of deteriorating health and wellbeing.
“The current picture of a nation that is too inactive for its own good is stark, as are the consequences. Scotland is currently near the top of the world’s league table of countries that are overweight and obese.”
The OSS was launched in 2016 by Charlie Raeburn, with support from former athlete and MP Sir Menzies Campbell and Martin Gilbert, chairman of Aberdeen Standard Investments, and the ‘Sport Participation in Scotland: Trends and Future Prospects’ is its first major piece of research.
The independent think-tank is supporting national and local government, sportscotland, sport bodies and communities to commission and analyse research with the aim of shaping policy to improve access to and participation levels in sport, recreation and physical activity for all ages in all life stages, and, ultimately, help to turn around declining levels of health and wellbeing.
Physical Activity –
- Despite a series of interventions by government and health agencies aimed at improving physical activity, the overall levels have remained largely unchanged in Scotland since 2007 (a rise from 62% to 65% is noted with the inclusion of walking).
- Recreational walking and people attending fitness gyms and classes are showing increases while sport participation has fallen.
- The decline in teenagers meeting physical activity guidelines is continuing (only 11% of 13-15-year-old girls and 24% of boys are now achieving the health guidelines).
Sport Participation –
- Sport participation has reduced for adult and child, males and females, in last 10 yrs – one of largest drop-outs witnessed in football among 16-34-yr-olds
- The drop-off and ‘gender gap’ in sport participation in Scotland starts at 13yrs with more girls from this age not participating (55%) than are (45%)
- More women than men participate in walking, dance, aerobic-type classes and swimming while men significantly dominate ‘traditional’ sports such as football, golf and bowls
- People living in the most deprived areas are much less likely to participate in sport (42%) compared with those living in the least deprived areas (65%), with an even greater disparity noticed in areas of fitness, gym and running.
- People with a degree qualification had a participation rate of 68% compared with 26% for those who left school with no qualification