Traditional sports fight for youth
Sport and recreation are worth $545m to Waikato's economy, research suggests.DANIEL ADAMS
Do you think traditional sports in New Zealand are losing relevance with the younger generation?
Traditional sports are facing an increasing challenge to draw in the country's young people as many are turning their backs on team activities in favour of individual and social sports.
Sports administrators expect new research by Sport New Zealand, due for release next month, to confirm a trend which is already challenging sports clubs to stay relevant.
The Sport New Zealand research focuses on intermediate and secondary school pupils' sporting preferences, with key stakeholders briefed already on high-level results.
The work builds on research last year which showed sports participants in general are overwhelmingly favouring individual and social sports over club or organised play.
First-year Waikato University engineering student Daniel Krippner is an example of the trend, having climbed to the top of his chosen sport during his secondary schooling.
In 2010 he came first in the New Zealand and Oceania U18 and open male speed climbing champs, and in 2011 in the NZ National Cup Series placed first in the U20 and open male speed climbing and U20 lead climbing and second in the open section.
"Although it's an individual sport, the person holding the end of the rope is keeping you alive. I like sports where you don't have fixed training times, being able to go when I want to. I played soccer and tennis, and was pretty bad at both of them.
"Pretty much all I do is climb now, a little bit of waterskiing. Most of my mates are quite into cricket and rugby, stuff like that, but that wasn't really my game. Definitely, more and more people I know are getting involved in individual sports," he said, "things that would be considered quite extreme.
"One of my mates I climb with has just started white-water kayaking, slack-lining is another one quite a few of the climbers have been doing, sort of like walking a tight-rope but it's more like a trampoline.'
Former All Black and Sport Waikato chief executive Matthew Cooper is unequivocal about sports' increasing challenge to draw young people's interest, time and money.
He said research had already shown a trend, including for young people, towards participation in individual and social sport, which was a challenge for "traditionals".
"There's quite an amazing spike now of people wanting to participate socially – people still enjoy playing sport, but they don't want to be confined. It's about individual choice and it's also about saying `when the time is right, I will play'," said Mr Cooper.
"I can't give you a quantifiable answer, but I'd suggest some of the traditionals are having to be a lot more creative. The challenge is on sport to adapt to those trends. It's about adapting your sport, creating alternatives, time of the week, frequency, how long the event goes for ... traditional can still be a big player if it is creative," he said.
"The experience has to be good, too. The modern teenager won't commit too much longer if the experience isn't great, that goes back to quality of coaching."
But other research shows that sports are not the only activity competing for young people's time: the Gemba Sports and Entertainment report published in September last year showed sports' increasing battle to compete for 16 to 24-year-olds' interest.
Nationally movies, live music, theme parks, electronic games and live comedy all beat out sport for their time – and money – with sport not even in the top five.
SPORT BOOSTS ECONOMY
Sport and recreation are worth $545m to Waikato's economy, research suggests.
The estimate shows the sector contributes 3.6 per cent of Waikato's gross domestic product – the market value of all the goods and services produced here each year.
The data is drawn from Lincoln University research commissioned by Sport New Zealand – formerly Sparc – assessing the economic value of sport and recreation.
It quantifies the sector's contribution to national and regional economies by measuring its contributions through employment, education, local government and volunteers.
Researchers' assessment included 17 industries significantly reliant on the sector, such as facilities, equipment, racing animals and physiotherapy; teacher's time spent delivering related parts of the curriculum; and new facilities built by local councils.
The report, presented to Hamilton councillors this week, notes Waikato participants are backed by more than 76,000 volunteers and 4000 people employed in the sector.
Those volunteer hours had an estimated market value to the region of $60.2 million.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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