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The impact of sport events on sport participation in local communities

Marijke Taks -SRG 2010
Misener, L., Chalp, L.,



This study represents phase 1 of a larger study on the leveraging of sport events for sport participation. To identify leveraging tactics and techniques it is necessary to first evaluate potential impacts of sport events on sport participation since there is little evidence to date to support this claim (Coalter, 2004). There are two reasons why we purposefully opted to focus on small and medium sized events. First, previous research on the so called ‘trickle-down effect’ has primarily focused on major sporting events (e.g., Bauman , Ford, & Armstrong , 2001; Hindson et al., 1994; SportScotland, 2004) and little is known about the relationship between non-hallmark events and sport participation. Second, small and medium sized sport events are organized more frequently in different parts of the country; therefore, they may be more relevant to communities as possible sources of leverage to increase sport participation. Two small/medium sized sport events are being evaluated: the 2005 Pan American Junior Athletic Championships and the 2005 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. Document analysis and interviews with key stakeholders of the Pan American Championships revealed that the event enhanced the local human and physical infrastructure, through which athletes, coaches and officials experienced personal growth, which exceeded their expectations. It was expected that the event would be a driving force to foster sport participation, but leveraging was not initiated. This was reinforced by exigencies of hosting a quality event. Upon reflection, all interviewees recognized the potential value of event leveraging and identified several missed opportunities. In the absence of specific leveraging tactics it became apparent that those already involved in sport were the primary beneficiaries. Thus, the event stimulated sport development rather than initiating participation in sport. In order for leveraging to succeed, organizational leadership and ownership over leveraging is necessary. At this stage, no obvious candidate can be revealed.

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