Sport for All Ages? Weighing the Evidence

  • Rylee A. Dionigi
  • Michael Gard


This chapter introduces the scope, focus and content of our edited book. Our book critically examines Sport for All in the context of life stages and intersecting factor/s, such as gender, class, race and ability by discussing the implications of this policy agenda for individuals and society. While it is recognised that grass-roots sport participation has many benefits for individuals and society, in reality:
  • • sport is not accessible to everyone (and never will be) for many reasons, which vary according to age;

  • • sport is not the interest of many people who have access to it; they choose to do other things at various life points;

  • • current attempts to promote mass sport participation and increase physical activity levels across the lifespan have not proven to be successful, at any age;

  • • the “Sport for All across the lifespan” ideal is being exploited and taken up by different groups in different ways.

The authors of each chapter handle this critique of Sport for All in different ways, as articulated below:
  • Argument 1: "Sport for All ages" is a laudable goal because of the benefits it can offer individuals and society, but systemic changes are necessary to make sport more accessible and inclusive to all.

  • Argument 2: "Sport for All ages" is being used as a strategy for marketing and/or regulating certain groups of the population, such as at-risk youth, inactive children and active, financially comfortable retirees.

  • Argument 3: Regardless of sport’s benefits and how sport is promoted, it is often a place where like-minded, middle-class, already-active people gather.

  • Argument 4: Sport is not a desire for all, so why should sport be positioned as an imperative for all age groups? For example, some people and groups actively resist the Sport for All ideal.

Therefore, as a whole, this collection asks readers to weigh the evidence and consider: What kinds of other ideas does Sport for All allow us to entertain and think in relation to age groups? What kinds of questionable practices does the presumption of Sport for All across the lifespan help to facilitate? What are some unintended and perhaps unforeseen consequences of Sport for All?


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rylee A. Dionigi
    • 1
  • Michael Gard
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Exercise Science, Sport and HealthCharles Sturt UniversityPort MacquarieAustralia
  2. 2.School of Human Movement and Nutrition SciencesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia

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