A government sport strategy document reveals that Sport England’s role is to be broadened to cover a number of new activities, including cycling to work, walking and dance classes. The decision to broaden the definition of “sport” comes as the government looks to focus more on groups that are currently less active.
The FT reports that the current Active People survey is to be replaced by another survey, which will be called Active Lives. As well as including other sorts of activity, this will cover sport played by children aged five and over – whereas only children older than 14 had previously been included.
The document – the first comprehensive sport strategy for 13 years – states: “Our thinking about sport and physical activity has tended in the past to focus too heavily on traditional outdoor sports like football or rugby and indoor sports like swimming and badminton.”
“The active people survey is out of date and there are lots of flaws around it,” said sports minister, Tracey Crouch. “This is not reclassifying walking and dancing as sport — it is about making a proper reflection.”
The number of people aged over 16 playing sport once a week has fallen in the last three years. Crouch said numbers were still higher than before the 2012 London Olympics, but that with things starting to ‘stagnate’ it was time to look at the strategy and deliver something new.
“We will make most progress by focusing on particular sections of society that face common barriers to taking part,” says the strategy document. Crouch said that funding could therefore move away from traditional sports bodies and towards new groups that are able to demonstrate they can reach these communities.
The strategy document goes on to say that every primary school child will be taught how to swim and that there will be funding for more cycling lessons.