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Factors influencing sport participation

The level of demand for participation in any sport is influenced by a variety of societal, economic, technologic, and demographic factors. Some of these factors are explained below:

Sport Businesses

The supply of sport services by profit motivated businesses has significantly increased the range of opportunities for people to participate in fitness, sport and recreation. As an example, the activity called "Crossfit" is a recent phenomenon that has seen Crossfit affiliate entities spring up across the nation, even in small towns for less than 20,000 population.

An increasing number of small business operators can also be found in Sport Coaching (e.g. Football Academies), Outdoor Recreation, Swim Schools and Personal Training.

As a result of the increased number of profit motivated businesses there is an increased amount of marketing and promotion, and this has an effect on demand.

Government Policy

Government policy plays a major role in ensuring access to a wide variety of sport and recreation activities by distributing funding (tax payer's money) to sport and recreation organisations. Government funding tends to be a pendulum that swings back and forth between elite sport and grass roots sport. Government funding on grass roots sport has implications the health of the population and productivity of the workforce. Money spent on grass roots sport tends to save money on health care an arguably increases the nations productivity. However, funding on elite sport tends to be far more effective in achieving publicity and thereby winning votes for politicians.

Without the support of government funding, many sports would cease to have an organised national and state structure and would be at risk of disappearing.

Involvement of Media

Some sports have, by their very nature, great commercial value. Media organisations, excepting the national broadcaster (the ABC in Australia), can only exist if they can derive revenue from advertising. The dollar value of any television or radio commercial, or newspaper advert, is determined by the number of viewers (or readers). Some sports have inherently more entertainment value and command a large and dedicated band of followers. Broadcasting these sports on a regular basis enables the media organisation to connect advertisers with consumers. Furthermore, the emotions felt by consumers as they watch/listen to their favourite sport enables the advertiser's message to have a more powerful effect.

While some sports constantly yearn for more media exposure, the reality is media organisations are driven by the profit motive far more than their social conscience. As a result, children are attracted to play sport and emulate the sports stars they see on television.

Economic Factors

The population of Australia enjoys a prosperity and ease of living that has earned the nation the name of "the lucky country". Participation in most sports is not expensive and costs around 1-2% of income per capita. Nevertheless the affordability of involvement in sport and recreation is influenced by the level of employment / unemployment, interest rates and fiscal (tax) policy. At times when the economy suffers a slow down or contraction, there is less spending by the population in general, and consequently less spending on sport and recreation.

Changing Demographics

Australia is continually subject to demographic changes. These changes include:

The effect of demographic change on a year to year basis is too small to be noticeable. Equally, the affect of demographic change on sport is very slow. Nevertheless, over 1-2 decades, the fortune of some sport and recreation activities may prosper or perish dependant upon demographic change. New sports are borne and traditional sports begin to disappear. This effect can be masked to some extent by the continual growth of the population. Although the numbers of participants in some sports may be static, the actual proportion of the population may have fallen.

Technological factors

Technological innovation is perhaps the most significant factor that has influenced the demand for sport and recreation. Whereas be confined to a single room for many hours a day would have been viewed as a punishment decades ago, the situation now exists where a very significant proportion of the population voluntarily put themselves in this situation. The rise of computer games and social media provide for an addictive and sedentary past-time. While such time involvement has some beneficial effect on the development of technology skills for employment, it undoubtedly has a detrimental effect on health and fitness, and participation in sport and recreation.



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