Irish Sports Monitor Half-Year Report

Sport Ireland has published its half-year Irish Sports Monitor (ISM) Report for the months January to June in 2017.

Sport Ireland’s Irish Sports Monitor is the largest ongoing instrument for tracking active and social participation in sport by Irish people aged 16 and over. There have been seven annual waves of the survey in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017.

The ISM involves telephone-based[1] interviews of over 8,000 adults annually, asking detailed questions about their active participation in sport and recreational walking; their volunteering, club membership and attendance at sporting events; and their active commuting habits. It has provided insight on trends in participation in sport and physical activity at a population level as well as by age, gender, social class, disability and region. It has also provided insight on policy-related issues around gender and sport, transitions into and out of sports participation; motivations for, and barriers to, participation in sport; and perceptions around the role of Government in sport.    

Having commenced around the same time as Ireland’s recent economic woes, the ISM has acted as something of a barometer for the social and economic turmoil which the country has seen during the last 10 years. Indeed, one of the key messages from the ISM has been the importance of these social and economic forces in shaping participation in sport and physical activity over the last 10 years. Rises and falls in participation in sport and physical activity (Including active commuting) have been closely linked to key changes in the country’s social and economic circumstances during this period.

The latest report from the ISM, a half year report for the first 6 months of 2017, again reflects the influence of social and economic circumstances on people’s behaviour around sport and physical activity. In terms of the type of outcomes desired by Sport Ireland and partners involved in promoting sport and physical activity it presents varied results. Active and social participation in sport are slightly down on the previous 2015 results, while the numbers participating in recreational walking and active commuting have slightly increased. The proportion of those meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines through taking part in sport or recreation walking has also slightly increased while the numbers who are effectively inactive[2] have remained static.

The report is showing that the changes in participation in all activities covered by the ISM are not universal throughout the population but instead are focussed on specific cohorts most likely to be affected by changes in economic circumstances. For example, the decline in sports participation is most pronounced among younger males even if these are still the group most likely to participate in sport overall.   

Sport Ireland is addressing challenges through working strategically with National Governing Bodies for Sport and Local Sports Partnerships to provide as many opportunities as possible for people to engage in physical activity.

Among the programmes currently being rolled out nationwide are those funded through the Dormant Accounts Fund. This investment is aligned with the National Physical Activity Plan, with a particular emphasis on implementing programmes to promote physical activity and develop programmes to address transitions and drop out from physical activity. This fund has also seen the establishment of Community Physical Activity Hubs around the country, which aim to increase the number of people of all ages participating in sport and physical activity in their communities.

See the Sport Ireland Irish Sports Monitor Half-Year Report Here.

[1]              From 2015 onwards it covered mobile as well as landline respondents

[2]              Don’t participate in sport or recreational walking for at least 20 minutes in a week or walk or cycle for transport