Where there are well-functioning social networks the positive effects of social connections may include increased happiness, health and longevity (ABS 2006). Playing sport and taking part in other forms of physical recreation is often a social activity in which energies are focused on a common goal. It can provide participants with an opportunity to make and/or maintain friendships, develop extended networks and keep in touch with family or friends. Even doing physical exercise or recreation activities alone in public places may create opportunities for meeting like-minded people, while attending sporting events also provides opportunities for being with others or making new contacts (ABS 2006).
Data from the 2010 GSS indicate that sport participants generally had more frequent contact with their family and friends, a greater number of friends to confide in and a greater ability to obtain support in times of crisis than non-participants.