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SPORT'S UNSUNG HEROES INVOLVEMENT IN NON-PLAYING ROLES
People aged 35 to 44 years were most likely to have been involved in non-playing roles (15%), while people aged 65 years and over (4%) were least likely. Over time, there has been a significant decrease in participation in non-playing roles by people aged 25 to 34 years (10% in 2001 to 7% in 2010), while the participation rates of people in all other age groups have remained steady.
The proportions of people who participated as committee members or administrators increased with age, with only 10% of those aged 15 to 24 years involved in these roles, compared with 49% of people who were aged 55 to 64 years, and 62% of people who were aged 65 years and over.
Conversely, involvement as a referee or umpire decreased with age, with 38% of people aged 15 to 24 years in these roles compared with only 11% of people who were aged 65 years and over. This decrease in participation with age was also true for those involved as coaches, instructors or teachers. Across all age groups, similar proportions of people were involved as scorers or timekeepers, and as providers of medical support.
Area of usual residence
The participation rate in non-playing roles of people whose area of usual residence was one of the state capital cities (8%) was lower than the participation rate of those in the balance of state or territory (11%) which includes the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory and the rest of the six states. Men and women living in the different areas had similar rates of participation in non-playing roles for those residing in state capital cities (9% for men and 7% for women) and balance of state or territory (11% for both men and women).
Labour force status
People's labour force status did not have a noticeable influence on the likelihood of them participating in non-playing roles. The 2010 IOSPA found no significant difference between the rates of participation by people who were employed full-time (11%), people who were employed part-time (also 11%) and people who were unemployed (9%).
The rate of participation by people who were not in the labour force (5%) was significantly lower than the participation rate of those who were employed (11%). This may be due to the influence of people aged 65 years and over who dominate this category.
NON-PLAYING ROLES OVER TIME
Since 2001, the overall rate of participation in non-playing roles has remained relatively unchanged from 10% of the total population in 2001, to 9% in 2010. Over time the rate of participation in non-playing roles by men has decreased from 11% in 2001, to 10% in 2010, while the rate of participation by women has remained the same at 8%.
During the same period, the proportions of people involved in some non-playing roles have decreased, with the most noticeable change being the proportion of people who were involved as a committee member or administrator, which decreased from 42% in 2001 to 34% in 2010. The proportion of people in the roles of referee or umpire also decreased slightly from 24% to 20%.
The proportions of people who were involved as a coach or instructor (39% in 2001 and 41% in 2010) or as a scorer or timekeeper (32% in 2001 and 31% in 2010) remained about the same.
NUMBER OF WEEKS INVOLVED
Due to the seasonal nature of some sports, such as Australian Rules football which is commonly played in winter, and cricket which is commonly played in summer, it is not surprising that the number of weeks that people were involved in non-playing roles varied depending on the type of role they were involved in.
People who were involved in roles that are mainly required during a match or game, such as referee or umpire, scorer or timekeeper and providing medical support, were more likely to be involved for 1 to 13 weeks (which may equate to a season) than they were to be involved for 40 to 52 weeks (which may equate to involvement over a whole year). The highest proportions of people who were involved for 1 to 13 weeks were those who were in the role of referee or umpire (52%) and those who were scorers or timekeepers (56%).
The administration of a sporting club which has teams playing only during summer or winter still continues throughout the year with activities such as recruitment, fundraising, coaching and pre-season training. It follows then that the highest proportions of people who were involved for 40 to 52 weeks were those who were involved in the roles of committee member or administrator (33%), or as a coach, instructor or teacher (25%).
NUMBER OF NON-PLAYING ROLES
The time commitment required of volunteers and other people in non-playing roles who are involved in sporting clubs can be significant, with training sessions occurring once or twice during the week and matches sometimes taking place on weekends, requiring some travel to attend. For committee members there is also the additional requirement of attending meetings and keeping on top of the club's financial obligations and governance requirements. Understandably, the majority of people who were involved in non-playing roles had only one non-playing role (71%) with considerably less having two (18%) and only 7% having three.
People who were involved in the roles of coach, instructor or teacher, or as a committee member or administrator were also the most likely to be involved in only one non-playing role (57% and 55% respectively). Interestingly, most people who were involved providing medical support were likely to be involved in more than one role, with 34% of people having two non-playing roles, and 25% having three roles.
The 2010 IOSPA found that most people who were involved in organised sport as a participant, player or competitor were not involved in any non-playing roles (77%). Fifteen percent were involved as a participant, player or competitor and also had one non-playing role. It is sometimes the case in community-based sporting clubs that players will also be on the committee or might volunteer their time to undertake fundraising activities or help to coach the junior teams.
USUAL NUMBER OF HOURS IN WEEK(S) INVOLVED
Type of role
People who were in the non-playing roles of coach, instructor or teacher were the most likely to have spent 10 hours or more during the weeks they were involved (12%).
People who were involved as scorers or timekeepers, or referees or umpires were the most likely to have spent less than 3 hours during the weeks they were involved (75% and 62% respectively). This could be due to the nature of their roles which are undertaken mainly while a match or game is being played.
A higher proportion of people who were involved as a committee member or administrator spent less than 3 hours (52%) compared with those who spent 3 to 9 hours (37%).
PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By usual number of hours during week(s) involved - 2010
Less than half (41%) of the people who were involved in non-playing roles held a relevant qualification. Nearly all of the people involved in providing medical support, somewhat reassuringly, had a qualification (96%). Similarly, around half of those who were involved as coaches, instructors or teachers and as referees or umpires also reported having a qualification (56% and 50% respectively) in 2010.
Those involved as committee members or administrators, or scorers or timekeepers were the least likely to have a qualification (16% and 10% respectively).
SCHOOL OR JUNIOR SPORT
Around two thirds (60%) of people who were involved in non-playing roles reported that they were also involved in school or junior sport. Of the people who were involved as coaches, instructors or teachers, 71% were involved in school or junior sport, while 67% of people who were involved as referees or umpires also reported that they were involved in school or junior sport.
Women (65%) were more likely than men (55%) to have been involved in non-playing roles for school or junior sport. A higher proportion of women than men (56% compared with 37%) were involved as committee members or administrators, or as scorers or timekeepers (67% compared with 55%).
Most interesting is the high proportion of women (71%) involved in other roles, which includes activities such as canteen worker, fundraising and providing transport, who were also involved in school or junior sport. This gives some weight to the 'soccer mom' stereotype which is 'a woman who devotes much of her spare time to her children's activities, typically driving them to and from sports events'. (Endnote 2).
People in the non-playing roles of coach, instructor or teacher were the most likely to have received some monetary payment, or received goods and services as payment (27%). This may relate to the relative level of skill needed to perform the role, and the amount of time that people must devote to being involved in them.
Only 13% of people who were involved as referees or umpires, scorers or timekeepers, or providers of medical support received some payment. The least likely to have been paid for their involvement (6%) were those in other non-playing roles (including committee members or administrators).
It would seem that given the time commitment and the specialist knowledge required for many of the non-playing roles undertaken by sporting club members, it is an inherent love of the game that compels many of the people involved to do what they do. It must be acknowledged that without them, there is every possibility that the viability of many community sporting clubs would be questionable and the opportunity for players to excel and enjoy their sport would also be limited.
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1. Australian Sports Commission 2009, Ten tips for boosting club membership, Accessed 15 April 2011, <http://www.ausport.gov.au/supporting/news/ten_tips_for_boosting_club_membership>
2. American Psychological Association (APA): soccer mom. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved April 20, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/soccer mom>
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