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26 June 2012

Sporting events ‘don’t make us more sporty’

Sporting events ‘don’t make us more sporty’

Big sporting events don't have a significant impact on the numbers of people playing sport, according to new research by Theos and the Sports Think Tank.

Give us our Ball Back: Reclaiming Sport for the Common Good reveals that the big claims made for the Olympics, and sport more generally, don't stack up.

A poll by ComRes supported the report's claim that big sporting events don't have a significant impact on participation. Just four per cent of people agreed strongly with the statement: 'I'm inspired to play more sport at the moment because of the London 2012 Olympics', and 80 per cent disagreed or disagreed strongly.

The report argues politicians' assertions about how far sport can deliver on health, values and morality, economic benefits and even peace are misleading, and are ruining the fun of it.

While the polling shows most people think that the Olympics will be good for the British economy, as often claimed, the report reveals that 'no recent Olympic Games has produced proven significant economic benefits to the host country or city', and the balance between private and public investment is often misrepresented. For London 2012, private investment is likely to contribute only a quarter of total costs.

Most people are clear about the cost to the public purse. Sixty-four per cent say the taxpayer has contributed too much, and in London, where taxpayers have contributed more, it is even higher (70 per cent).

The report takes a good look at the evidence for the claims being made on behalf of sport and argues that sport is being set up to fail. It reveals that sport can't be shown to make us better people, contribute to reconciliation, develop our economies or even directly make us healthy. In our desire to justify it, we over-claim on its behalf. It concludes that sport shouldn't be a tool, used for other objectives, but valued for itself.

Andy Reed OBE, director of Sports Think Tank, said: "Those of us who love sport need to remember to be cautious about placing unrealistic political, economic and social demands on it and relearn how to value it for its own sake."