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The value of sport and active recreation to New Zealanders (2017)

This report presents the findings of a programme of research undertaken to confirm the value of sport and active recreation to New Zealand and New Zealanders. 

This research was commissioned by Sport NZ and undertaken over three stages: a literature review, in-depth qualitative research with a substantial sample of n=42 members of the general public and more than n=60 other sport and recreation sector stakeholders, and comprehensive quantitative research. The latter involved a representative sample of the general public (n=1516), a sample of people working in the sport and recreation sector (n=346), representatives of n=121 organisations operating in the sport and recreation sector, and n=178 other organisations (including some of New Zealand’s largest corporates and many small and medium enterprises).

The findings are therefore based on a mix of evidence and opinion concerning the benefits that accrue from participation and other forms of engagement in sport and active recreation: benefits that define how sport is valued.

The Value of Sport study commenced with a comprehensive review of national and international literature concerning the benefits of physical activity for sport, exercise and recreation. From this body of literature was distilled the ways in which sport and active recreation are said to deliver economic, social and cultural benefit, and the evidence available to substantiate the benefits identified. This evidence was further evaluated based on its strength, and a standard of evidence applied: Gold (strong or significant evidence of effect), Silver (moderate or probable evidence of effect) and Bronze (some or limited evidence of effect).

The literature review uncovered evidence of benefits derived from participation in sport and other forms of physical activity for exercise and recreation: benefits relating to physical health, mental health, social cohesion, educational outcomes and economic value. There was strong (Gold-standard) evidence that participation in sport and physical activity can have a positive impact on physical health, on social cohesion and educational outcomes. Gold-standard evidence also exists to substantiate economic benefits resulting from improvements in health outcomes and related effects (such as increased life expectancy and productivity), consumer expenditure on sporting goods and events, and employment opportunities.

Outside of these areas, there is moderate or limited evidence of effect. This does not mean that sport and other forms of physical activity do not deliver benefits but simply that no conclusive evidence was identified.

While high performance sport is often thought to impact positively on individuals and communities, research assessing the nature and value of these impacts is limited and, where it has been undertaken, results are often inconclusive. Again, this does not mean that high performance sport doesn’t deliver benefits but simply that no conclusive evidence was identified.

In the expectation that empirical evidence might be difficult to source, especially in a New Zealand context, the research also sought opinions on the value of sport via in-depth qualitative research and a subsequent large-scale survey of members of the general public, people working in paid employment in the sport and recreation sector, and representatives of a wide crosssection of organisations with and without involvement in the sport and recreation sector.

The qualitative research suggested that most New Zealanders see value in sport and active recreation. Indeed, sport and an active (outdoor) lifestyle are seen to define who we are and how we relate to each other, and to set us apart from other nations. In this sense, sport and active recreation are said to be “in our DNA”: the result of a geography that lends itself to a lifestyle of activities on and in the ocean, beaches, mountains, rivers, forests and lakes; a benign climate; a population that values physical strength and agility, and the resulting accessibility of opportunities to participate.

Literatuurverwijzing: (2017). The value of sport and active recreation to New Zealanders. Angus & associates.