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4156.0.55.001 - Perspectives on Sport, June 2011  
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SPORT'S UNSUNG HEROES INVOLVEMENT IN NON-PLAYING ROLES


INTRODUCTION

It is not just the players who are essential to the success of a sporting team, it is also the people on the sidelines; the coaches, the referees, the committee members, the groundskeepers and the people standing behind the counter in the canteen providing vital refreshment. Many local sporting clubs rely on volunteers to fill these roles, while some larger clubs may be able to offer some form of payment. Regardless, the time commitment involved, and in some cases, the need for specialised skills and knowledge makes the people who occupy these non-playing roles a valuable commodity.

The most recent ABS survey of Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity (IOSPA) (cat. no. 6285.0) was conducted in April 2010 and found that an estimated 1.6 million people (9% of people aged 15 years and over) were involved in a non-playing role in the previous 12 months. Five percent were involved in both a playing and non-playing role while 4% were involved in a non-playing role only.

This article will look at those people who were involved in a non-playing role regardless of whether they were also a player. The main non-playing roles in 2010 were coach, instructor or teacher, referee or umpire, committee member or administrator, scorer or timekeeper, and medical support. Other non-playing roles included activities such as canteen worker, fundraising and providing transport. Further information about roles and other terms used in this article can be found in the Glossary.

Further information about the survey can be found in the ABS 2010 publication Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity, Australia (cat. no. 6285.0). The survey was previously conducted in 2007, 2004 and 2001. For information about the differences between the surveys please refer to paragraphs 14 and 15 in the Explanatory Notes.

Differences between the data items highlighted in this article are statistically significant. For further information about statistical significance please refer to paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Technical Note: Data Quality.


CHARACTERISTICS OF PEOPLE IN NON-PLAYING ROLES

The Australian Sports Commission, in their article 'Ten tips for boosting club membership' explain some of the reasons why it's important that sporting clubs have a good membership base:

'With more people joining in, it becomes easier to find committee members and volunteers to help with special projects. There is also less pressure on members to be involved in too many activities and a broader range of skills becomes available, which better equips a club to respond to societal changes. These changes can include decreasing numbers of children, increasing numbers of older people, the competition between clubs and commercial providers, and the rise of new activities for health and wellbeing.' (Endnote 1).

The 2010 IOSPA offers us some current insights into the types of people involved in non-playing roles in sporting clubs around Australia.


Sex

The results of the 2010 IOSPA show that out of the total population of Australians aged 15 years and over, a higher proportion of men (10%) compared with women (8%) were involved in non-playing roles in organised sport.

Of the people who were involved in non-playing roles, there were similar proportions of men and women who were committee members or administrators (33% and 35% respectively) and providers of medical support (7% and 8%).

More men than women were involved as coaches, instructors or teachers (45% compared with 37%) and as referees or umpires (24% compared with 16%). A higher proportion of women (36%) were scorers or timekeepers compared with men (26%).

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By sex and type of role - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By sex and type of role—2010



Age

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.

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By age - 2001 and 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By age—2001 and 2010


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.

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By age - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By age—2010


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).

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By area of usual residence and sex - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By area of usual residence and sex—2010



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%).

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By labour force status - 2001 to 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By labour force status—2001 to 2010


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%.

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By type of role - 2001 to 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By type of role—2001 to 2010


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%).

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By number of weeks involved and type of role - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By number of weeks involved and type of role—2010


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.

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By number of roles and type of role - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), By number of roles and type of role—2010


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
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), By usual number of hours during week(s) involved—2010



QUALIFICATION

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).

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), With a qualification - By sex - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S) (a), With a qualification—By sex—2010



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.

PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), School or junior sport - By sex - 2010
Graph: PERSONS INVOLVED IN NON-PLAYING ROLE(S), School or junior sport—By sex—2010


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).


PAYMENT STATUS

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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ENDNOTES

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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