The purpose of the study was to investigate if non-profit sports clubs are affected by the growth of the commercial market and, if so, which clubs are affected and why.
The authors employed a mixed-method design, collecting quantitative data from a sample of 4456 non-profit sports clubs in Germany and then conducting a follow-up qualitative study including semi-structured interviews with 6 sports clubs.
Descriptive results showed that 35.3% of clubs perceived competition from commercial sports providers as a problem. The logistic regression analysis revealed that clubs offering sports for health and fitness, rehabilitation sports, martial arts, and dancing are more likely to perceive competition as a problem. Clubs aiming at social integration are also more likely to report a problem, while clubs following a strategic management approach are less likely to be affected by competition. The interviews unveiled that the reasons for competition are the different types of sports offered, financial aspects, characteristics of clubs, and markets. The findings suggest that organizational characteristics and types of sports offered are better suited as strategic group variables in the sports market than organizational strategies. Measures to counteract competition include the use of strategic management principles, cooperative relationships with commercial providers, and quality and specialization of services.