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4156.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Sport, Oct 2008  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/10/2008  First Issue
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FEATURE ARTICLE 1: WHAT MOTIVATES AUSTRALIANS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORT?


Introduction

This article presents information on reasons for participation and non-participation in sports and physical recreation collected in the 2005-06 Multi-Purpose Household Survey (MPHS). The survey collected data about the characteristics of persons aged 15 years and over who participated in sports and physical recreation activities. The MPHS was conducted each month during 2005-06 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Labour Force Survey.

The survey sought information on the reasons why people participated (motivators) and why they did not participate in sports or physical recreation. Motives broadly included health reasons and enjoyment. Reasons for non-participation broadly included being too busy or lack of time; age or health related reasons; and 'not interested'.

Further information can be found in the ABS publication Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 4177.0) and the report 'Motivators and Constraints to Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation', prepared for the Standing Committee on Recreation and Sports (SCORS) Research Group (ABS 2007b).


What is a sports participant?

In the survey, a sport participant is defined as a player, competitor or person who physically undertakes the activity. Persons involved solely as a coach, teacher, instructor, referee, umpire, administrator or club committee member are excluded from the data.


Regularity of participation

Respondents were asked questions about the frequency of their participation and the months in the previous year in which they participated in all activities. The data recorded from these questions were used to derive a measure of the regularity of participation.

People who participated in sports and physical recreation 13 times or more in the 12 month period prior to interview were asked the reasons why they participated (motivators). Occasional participants (ie less than 12 times per year) and people who did not participate at all were asked the reasons why they did not participate.

A detailed explanation can be found in the ABS publication Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 4177.0).


How many Australians participate in sport?

Nearly two-thirds (66% or 10.5 million people) of the Australian population aged 15 years and over had participated in sports and physical recreation activities at least once during the 12 month period prior to interview (2005-06). Similar proportions of males and females (both approximately 66%) participated at least once during this period. The highest participation rates were reported by residents of the Australian Capital Territory (80%) and Western Australia (71%), while those in the Northern Territory had the lowest rate of participation (58%).

Regular participation in sports and physical recreation activities was defined as participation undertaken more than twice a week in the 12 months prior to interview. Almost one in three (29% or 4.7 million people) of the population aged 15 years and over regularly participated in sports and physical recreation activities. This represented almost half (45%) of all participants.

More females (32% or 2.6 million) than males (27% or 2.1 million) were regular participants. There were 1.3 million people (8% of the population) who participated once or twice a week throughout the year.

Participants, Sports and physical recreation - Regularity of participation
Graph: Participants, Sports and physical recreation—Regularity of participation


Occasional and infrequent participants numbered 3.7 million and represented over a third (35%) of total participants (23% of the population aged 15 years and over). For infrequent participants, part-year participation was a feature of those in the younger age groups, with 16% of those aged 15-17 and 12% of those aged 18-24 and 25-34 years reporting this level of participation.


Motivators for participation

For all those who participated, health and fitness (33% or 7.8 million persons) was the most common motivator followed by enjoyment (21% or 5.2 million persons), well-being (16% or 3.9 million persons) and social or family reasons (14% or 3.2 million persons).

The two main motivators for all participants were health and fitness (54%) and enjoyment (22%). More females than males reported health and fitness (59% and 50% respectively) and well-being (9% and 6% respectively) as being important, whereas more males than females indicated enjoyment (27% and 16% respectively) and social or family reasons (8% and 6% respectively) as the main reasons for participating.

PARTICIPANTS(a), Sports and physical recreation-Motivators to participation-By sex - 2005-06

Males
Females
Persons
'000
%
'000
%
'000
%

All motivators
Health/Fitness
3 641.4
31.2
4 173.8
33.7
7 815.2
32.5
Well-being
1 799.9
15.4
2 113.6
17.1
3 913.5
16.3
Enjoyment
2 713.1
23.2
2 438.1
19.7
5 151.3
21.4
Social/Family
1 745.0
14.9
1 490.1
12.0
3 235.2
13.5
Weight loss
562.9
4.8
1 051.4
8.5
1 614.3
6.7
Competition/Challenge
746.9
6.4
376.3
3.0
1 123.2
4.7
Transport
166.8
1.4
173.4
1.4
340.2
1.4
Walk the dog
238.8
2.0
491.6
4.0
730.3
3.0
Other
60.8
0.5
59.8
0.5
120.5
0.5
Total responses(b)
11 675.6
100.0
12 368.1
100.0
24 043.7
100.0
Main motivators
Health/Fitness
2 305.9
49.6
2 862.1
58.6
5 168.0
54.2
Well-being
279.2
6.0
431.5
8.8
710.8
7.5
Enjoyment
1 272.4
27.4
783.9
16.1
2 056.3
21.6
Social/Family
391.4
8.4
268.7
5.5
660.1
6.9
Weight loss
94.8
2.0
257.8
5.3
352.7
3.7
Competition/Challenge
117.4
2.5
39.9
0.8
157.3
1.7
Transport
26.5
0.6
39.7
0.8
66.3
0.7
Walk the dog
71.7
1.5
122.0
2.5
193.8
2.0
Other
85.1
1.8
77.1
1.6
162.2
1.7
Total persons(a)
4 644.6
100.0
4 882.8
100.0
9 527.4
100.0

(a) Total number of persons who participated in all activities for 13 or more times in the 12 months prior to interview.
(b) Each person can give more than one response.
Source: Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2005-06 (cat. no. 4177.0).


Health and fitness was more commonly indicated as the main reason for participating by those who participated regularly compared with those who participated on a less regular basis (60% and 44% respectively). Conversely, enjoyment as the main motivator was more commonly reported by infrequent participants (28%) compared with those who participated regularly (18%).

Health and fitness as a motivator for participants also increased with age, from just one quarter (26%) of those aged 15-17 years to more than half of those aged 25-34 years (54%) and approaching 60% of each age group from 35-44 to 65 years and over. Conversely, enjoyment, whilst being the second most common motivator overall, declined as being the main motivator for almost half (45%) of participants aged 15-17 years to 30% for those aged 18-24 years and fell further to almost one in five for all other age groups.

Participants (for 13 times or more), Sports and physical recreation - By main motivators and age
Graph: Participants (for 13 times or more), Sports and physical recreation—By main motivators and age



Reasons for non-participation

Reasons for non-participation were asked of those who did not participate or were occasional participants in sports and physical recreation. A total of 6.5 million persons did not participate or were occasional participants. Of these, 84% reported no participation, while the remaining 16% were occasional participants.

The most commonly reported reasons for non-participation were insufficient time due to work or study; 'not interested'; and age/too old. For the occasional participants, insufficient time due to work or study (45%) was the main reason for not participating. Reasons of 'not interested' and insufficient time due to family reasons were the next most common reasons and accounted for 18% and 17% respectively.

Similar reasons were provided by respondents when asked about their main reason for non-participation. About one-fifth of respondents reported 'not interested', insufficient time due to work or study and age/too old as their main reasons for non-participation. The most common reason reported by those who participated on an occasional basis was insufficient time due to work or study (38%). This was followed by injury or illness (13%) and 'not interested' (12%).

Non-participants and occasional participants, Sports and physical recreation - By constraints
Graph: Non–participants and occasional participants, Sports and physical recreation – By constraints


Sex

Similar proportions of males and females reported age/too old, injury or illness, and 'not interested' as the main reason for not participating (all about 19%). More males (27%) than females (18%) reported insufficient time due to work or study as the main reason for occasional participation or non-participation in sports and physical recreation activities. In comparison, more than twice the number of females than males (435,400 or 14% and 171,200 or 5% respectively) indicated insufficient time due to family as the main reason for occasional participation or non-participation.

Non-Participants and occasional participants, Sports and physical recreation - By main constraints and sex
Graph: Non–Participants and occasional participants, Sports and physical recreation – By main constraints and sex


Age

Participation declined with increasing age with the rate declining from a high of around 75% for persons aged 15-17 years and 25-34 years to 49% for those aged 65 years and over.

Participants, Sports and physical recreation - By age and sex
Graph: Participants, Sports and physical recreation—By age and sex


For those aged 55-64 years, injury or illness (29%) was the most commonly reported reason for non-participation, followed by age/too old (20%). Age/too old (56%) replaced injury or illness (24%) as the main reason reported for those aged 65 years and over.

For the rest of the population (those aged 15-54 years), the most common reason reported was insufficient time due to work or study. This reason was prevalent for persons aged 18-24 years (40%) and decreased for persons aged 25-34 years and 35-44 years (both 31%) and persons aged 45-54 years (27%).

Employment status

Almost three in four employed people participated in sports and physical recreation (72%) compared to those who were unemployed (66%) or not in the labour force (55%). Sixty-eight percent of employed persons also participated occasionally in sports and physical recreation while 51% of employed persons did not participate at all. Employed non-participants and occasional participants were more likely to report insufficient time due to work or study as a reason (37%) which was almost double the proportion who indicated 'not interested' (20%) as the main reason. Other main reasons associated with this demographic included insufficient time due to family (10%), injury or illness (9%) and age/too old (7%).

For those who were unemployed, 'not interested' was the most common reason for non-participation (38%), followed by injury or illness (18%), insufficient time due to work or study (14%) and insufficient time due to family (11%). Age/too old and injury or illness (both 31%) were the reasons most commonly reported by those not in the labour force.


References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2007a, Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, cat. no. 4177.0, ABS, Canberra.

ABS 2007b, Motivators and Constraints to Participation in Sports and Physical Recreation, accessed 27 March, 2008, <http://www.ausport.gov.au/information/scors/other_related_reports>.


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