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FEATURE ARTICLE 1: WHAT MOTIVATES AUSTRALIANS TO PARTICIPATE IN SPORT?
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.
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.
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%).
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
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.
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%).
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.
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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