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The Social Benefits of Sport

Key Message

Sport improves physical and mental health and reduces health care costs. It also reduces anti-social behaviour.


Coalter, Fred. (2013). The social benefits of sport. Sport Scotland. Glasgow, Scotland: Doges, Templeton on the Green.


This study reviews the research into the potential contributions of sport in the following areas: Fitness and health; Young people and education; Anti-social behaviour and crime; Community cohesion and development; and, Economic impact.


Benefits in fitness and health are demonstrated in many areas, including not only improved physical and mental health, but in reduction of various diseases.

Regarding young people, there are clear indications that sport and physical education does not have a negative effect, it might have a positive effect and it has the potential to confer independent physical and emotional health benefits. The importance of sport in many young people’s lives can be used to attract educationally under-achieving young people to educational programmes (although outcomes will depend on the nature and quality of the learning environment).

In looking at anti-social behaviour and crime, most evidence suggests that sport’s potential is maximised by working in partnership with other agencies, understanding the complex causes of crime and recognising that the process of delivery and the social relationships within this are vitally important.

There are potential beneifts to community cohesion and development, although there is a distinction between developing sport in communities and developing communities through sport. One research finding concludes that sports programmes need to be complemented by other measures and connected to relevant agencies in order to stimulate social regeneration.

There are clear economic benefits to sport, including reduced health care costs, sport-related consumer expenditure, sport-related consumer employment, sport tourism, and economic impact of sport events, including minor and spectator events.


Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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