5. Local impact generated by the outdoor sport activities.

//5. Local impact generated by the outdoor sport activities.
5. Local impact generated by the outdoor sport activities. 2018-11-08T16:26:00+00:00

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  • Mihaela Onofras
    Keymaster
    Post count: 13

     OUTDOOR SPORT ACTIVITIES: WHAT KIND OF IMPACT? 

    The role of physical activity in having a qualitative and health life has been largely acknowledged at international level (EU physical activities guidelines, 2008; Physical activity and health in Europe: evidence for action, 2006, WHO; Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2008; White Paper on a Strategy for Europe on nutrition, overweight and obesity related health issues, 2007; etc). 

    According to WHO, annually 35 million people die of diseases associated to physical inactivity. Besides the human costs, this implies also a huge financial cost caused as an increase in the rates of heart diseases, stroke, diabetes puts pressure on the health systems and consequently on health expenditure. 

    Even though sport and physical activity are key components of a healthy life style, nowadays living conditions have changed and a shift towards a more sedentary lifestyle linked to the use of PCs, smartphones and TVs has emerged. The 2017 Eurobarometer Survey evidences that 46% of Europeans are physically inactive, meaning that they never engage in physical activity. According to the survey, women, and in particular young ones are more probable not to practice any kind of physical activity: 52% of women never practice sport or physical activity compared to 40% of men; 33% of young women never engage in sports or physical activities compared to 15% of men1. 

    Furthermore, the EU Communication “Developing the European Dimension in sport” (2011) recognizes that sport has a positive impact not only on the micro (individual) and macro (system) health, but also on social inclusion, education and training. Indeed, the literature acknowledges that sport/physical activity produce impacts in several areas of human life: individual well-being, education/work attainment, social relations, community cohesion. 

    According to Taylor et. al (2015), the participation in sports/physical activity has immediate results in terms of improved cognitive skills, increased trust in the others and strengthening of social relations, higher engagement in community life and quest for a higher peer status. 

     These outcomes impact not only on individuals, but also on their social networks (e.g. families, friends) and wider community networks (community as a whole) and produce intermediate social outcomes at all levels: increase in participation in social life (pro-social behaviour) and consequently increase in community networking and relations and better cognitive functioning. 

    A strengthening of pro-social behaviour, cognitive and motor functioning of individuals practicing sport/physical activity and community networking lead to wider social benefits in several related areas: health, crime, education and social cohesion. In particular, in the health area the prevention or reduction of physical and mental health problems contribute to reducing costs especially considering the continuous ageing population. By an increase in pro-social behaviour sport/physical activity and strengthening of relations at community level, sport contributes to reducing anti-social behaviour and to preventing increase in crime rates. By improving cognitive functioning sport/physical activity contributes to increasing education or work attainments. 

    It’s worth pointing out that the literature debate on the positive social impacts of sport/physical activity suggests that the possibility of these impacts to occur depends on the type, frequency, duration and intensity of sport/physical activity. 

    Furthermore, it is important to underline that such effects may occur in tandem. For instance Schwarzenegger et al. (2005) suggests that a recreation programme aimed at fighting youth obesity can produce aggregated social impacts, by increasing self-esteem, reducing the use of alcohol, building family relations, promoting volunteering, etc. According to Sport England (2008), the positive effects of sport on young people’s resilience, confidence level, health and education achievement contributes later to their life outcomes. 

    From a gender perspective….. 

    sport exemplifies a societal and cultural process in which the social construction of femininity and masculinity plays a key role in influencing behaviors and approaches. 

    Sport is traditionally associated with ‘masculine’ characteristics, such as physical strength and resilience, speed and a highly competitive, sometimes confrontational spirit. In many societies, women who engage in sports are perceived as ‘masculine’, while men who are not interested in sports are considered ‘unmanly’. 

    Traditionally, sport has been dominated by men, both in terms of participation and governance. Worldwide, women’s participation rates in sporting activities are lower than men’s. Yet over the last 20 years’ significant changes have occurred and the difference in involvement between the genders is becoming narrower. Indeed, a large body of academic and professional literature underlines the relevance of both the physical (safety, accessibility, layout, facilities for specific categories of women as mothers, elderly, disabled, etc) and the social (social norms and culture) environment for women’s participation into sports. 

    However, sport can also be used as a means to achieve gender equality through the establishment of general values such as fair play, non-discrimination and teamwork. It can also be used to increase opportunities for girls, if local contexts and gender relations are taken into account and addressed. Sport can give women and girls access to public spaces where they can gather, develop new skills, gain support from others and enjoy freedom of expression and movement. It can promote education, communication, negotiation skills and leadership, all of which are essential to women’s empowerment. Sport can also increase women’s and girls’ self-esteem and enable them to make choices about their lives. Moreover, sport can provide a channel to inform girls and women about reproductive health and other health issues. 

    QUESTIONS FOR THE DEBATE 

    In your opinion: 

    1. How local impact generated by outdoor sport activities can be identified and evaluated? 

    2. To which main questions an analysis of the local impact of outdoor sport activities can provide an answer? 

    3. Which are the areas of social life you believe social impacts or potential changes are much more deployed? 

    4. Which are the main impacts of outdoor sport activities at individual level? 

    5. Which are the main impacts of outdoor sport activities at community level? 

     

    Caterina Dada
    Member
    Post count: 42

    1) How local impact generated by outdoor sport activities can be identified and evaluated?
    In order to make a participatory and at the same time agile impact evaluation, it is proposed to engage individuals practicing sport in 3 out of the7 phases of the evaluative process. Priority should be given to those individuals practicing sports that are willing to participate to all the 3 participatory steps of the research. Secondly, both individuals that are very passioned by sport and people that are milder on the issue should be selected in order to have a variety of insights.

    A short description of the phases of the evaluative process follows:
    a. Define the target population: the category of sport practitioners for which we want to analyse the impact should be identified. It could be teenagers, or adults, or women, or people with disabilities, etc. This choice can be taken also according to the category with whom the organization has more contacts and dialogue.
    b. Define the scope – as described in the instruction sheet, practicing sport has a wide variety of impact. In order to increase the quality and the timeliness of the evaluation, it is suggested to choose a clearly defined set of impacts. This choice can be done by means of a literature research and by means of 1 focus group with the selected group of sport practitioners that belong to the selected category. The workshop’s aim is to explore what are according to them the impacts of practicing outdoor sport activities and in which of the impacts they are interested in knowing more.
    c. Define the indicators and thresholds – this step can be taken in the same workshop organized to identify the scope. Once the scope has been identified, participants are invited to express which aspects of the reality bear witness of the selected impacts, and the value that they expect this aspect to be. For example, if they chose as an indicator the number of social connections that an individual has gained because of playing sport, it is important that they also express how many connections the expect the individual to gain by applying sport.
    d. Identify the investigative tools to gather the desired information – will it be a survey? Or qualitative interviews? Or focus group? This should be decided according to the characteristics of the target population and the tools and time at the disposal of the organization.
    e. Data collection. If among the participants to the workshop there are particularly interested individuals, the organization can imagine to set up groups to collect the data. It will allow to save energies while at the same time increasing the research skills of the participants.
    f. Data analysis: Collected data are aggregated in easy-to-understand numbers and layout and discussed with the participants. In order to understand for who and under which condition there is a certain impact (realistic approach), it is important to verify the correlation between effects: is the reduction of crime always present in individuals playing sport or only when sport lead to higher social relations? Or is it related only with individual of a certain age range?
    g. Report writing and dissemination.
    h. If there are some very interested participants, the research can encourage them in building up a group for furtherly explore the topic or take some actions to amplify or maximize the identified impacts (according to the research action principles).

    Caterina Dada
    Member
    Post count: 42

    2) To which main questions an analysis of the local impact of outdoor sport activities can provide an answer?

    Is sport increasing wellbeing of those who practice it?
    Are people playing sport benefiting of better social capital than those who don’t play any sport?
    Are people playing sport more engaged in the local community?
    Do people practising sport play a greater role in the social/political life of the neighbourhood/ city?
    Are people playing a sport less likely to commit crime?
    Do the neighbourhood with a higher rate of individuals practicing sport report less crime rate?
    Are people playing sport performing a better cognitive activity?
    Have women playing sport a higher self-esteem, negotiation ability and agency that those not playing?

    Caterina Dada
    Member
    Post count: 42

    3) Which are the areas of social life you believe social impacts or potential changes are much more deployed?

    Social relations are one of the areas that I believe can be most impacted by playing sport. Playing outdoor sport activities increases the number of connections and acquaintance, it gives access to a social network, that one’s can refer to in case of need or when organizing activities. Being more in contact with other people, with clothes that differs from work or public life, and usually with common challenges to face also increases the level of empathy among people and it develops their social skills and a more extrovert attitude.
    On the other side, when the social capital established among the members becomes particularly strong, it could lead to an excessive identification with the sport and its members, thus leading to fanaticism and to in-group dynamics that could radicalise its members or disconnect them from reality.
    Another sphere that is remarkably affected by practicing sport is the use of free time, and especially the social implications of the selected leisure activity. Differently from watching television or reading the news, playing an outdoor activity pushes the individual out of his/her home and of his comfort area, it usually gets him/her in contact with other people and it makes him/her face new challenges and a less predictable environment.

    Lastly, playing outdoor activities increases the rootedness and connection of the individual with his/her territory, with its morphological, historical and cultural features. The individual playing outdoor activity is usually confronted with the weather, the type of soil, the difference in altitude, the urban planning of the city, the habits and level of acceptation of inhabitants.

    Caterina Dada
    Member
    Post count: 42

    4) Which are the main impacts of outdoor sport activities at individual level?

    Outdoor activities have a clear established positive impact on physical health: blood circulation, fitness, immune defences, articulation flexibility are just some of the many positive effects. On the other side, especially when there is a lack of sport culture and basic knowledge of body functioning, practising sports can lead to an increase in injuries given by fell, collision, muscular sprains. Nonetheless, in the long run and especially in the old age people that regularly practiced a sport, people practicing regular outdoor sport activities are less likely to incur in accidental falls or rheumatism.
    Outdoor sport activities have also many advantages on mental health: they positively affect individual’s mood, they help to reduce stress, anxiety, loneliness and depression; they help to train perseverance, to build self-esteem, confidence and social integration. They contribute to the management of mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Last but not least, it usually increases the connection of the individual with nature, thus contributing to clearing one’s mind, releasing stress and fostering creativity.
    A general increase in social relations and connectivity with some dimensions of society are also usually experienced by people playing outdoor activities.

    Caterina Dada
    Member
    Post count: 42

    5) Which are the main impacts of outdoor sport activities at community level?

    Playing outdoor sport activities has many positive repercussions at community level.
    First among all, it contributes to reduce national health expenditure. Some outdoor activities also require less energetic provision and less resources in equipment than indoor sports (usually requiring conditioning system, lights, music and electricity to make the machineries work).
    The positive impact of outdoor activities in social relations and network usually leads to positive effects on the level of mutual aid among citizens; on business partnerships; on exchange and diffusion of opinions, ideas and innovative concepts; on the number of activities or events organised; on the reactivity and mobilization in case of natural catastrophes or urgencies.
    In addition, empowered and self-confident citizens are usually better equipped to face challenges, whether in private life, at work or in public life. They are also more likely to mobilize and have more spirit of initiatives.
    Last but not least, outdoor sport activities make public space more lively, thus contributing to the perceived security of inhabitants, appreciation of the urban space and social control in the streets.

    Paula
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    1 – How local impact generated by outdoor sport activities can be identified and evaluated?
    Outdoor activities may be seen by the general population as something very positive, mainly as a vehicle for promoting physical activity and well being.
    It has a mobilizing role among non-practitioners, working as an important marketing tool. Thus, it becomes a dynamic factor of promotion, not only of the sports spaces in the open air, but also of the commerce and the city life itself.
    The (increasingly) presence of people in open air values urban sports spaces and works positively to strengthen the social and economic impact of sports in local community.
    In order to carry out the evaluation and monitoring of activities it should be considered the level of objectives achievement:
    • By the participation rate in the activities (through registration of entries and participation in the different activities that include outdoor sports; in Guimarães we always register the number of participants in our activities such as “Liga Mini”, “Vida Feliz”, “Jogos da Comunidade” and “Férias Desportivas”).
    • Measuring the economic impact, by calculating all the values involved in the sport activity (sports equipment, travel, food, medical exams). We (Tempo Livre) recently published in Guimarães (2018) a book with scientific evidence concerning the (important) economic impact of sport in Guimarães (it represents 67M € per year wich is, from the economic pont of view, something very relevant).
    • Crossing data collected in the registration act in activities that allows us, among other information, to relate the economic level of each participant with his/her regular physical activity or sports practice;
    • Assessing and monitoring anthropometric mesures and levels of physical fitness, wich allow us to evaluate the impact of physical exercise/activity on the health and well-being of practitioners (including application of regular functional fitness tests);
    • Evaluating the continuity of the sports practice (We can start with young ones and try to follow their sports career or physical activity on regular basis)
    • Assessing the extent to which physical activities motivate participants to continue the practice;
    • Evaluating the social impact in outdoor physical activities involving the community. In Guimarães we are studying the implementation of an evaluation instrument so we can understand whether projects such as the “Jogos da Comunidade” result at the local level by creating new activities to stimulate and promote physical activity and outdoor sports.

    Paula
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    2. To which main questions an analysis of the local impact of outdoor sport activities can provide an answer?
    •The main issue is participation rates. The impact will be bigger if participation rates increase (both genders).

    Paula
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    3. Which are the areas of social life you believe social impacts or potential changes are much more deployed?
    • Outdoor sports can conduct to socializing and sharing. They contribute to get people together and to combat loneliness and isolation, especially for the elderly. Outdoor physical activity, by its more comprehensive and less formal character, can attract more people to practice sports.

    Paula
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    4. Which are the main impacts of outdoor sport activities at individual level?
    We can examine this question in two ways. From a less positive point of view, outdoor physical activity can expose people to the gaze of others, possible harassment and insecurity situations. On the other hand, it has a very positive characteristic because being informal and free access makes it easier for everyone to participate, regardless of their condition (physical, economic or social).

    Paula
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    5. Which are the main impacts of outdoor sport activities at community level?
    It provides the construction of a collective identity and the sense of belonging to a group. Physical outdoor activities strengthen the bonds of friendship and companionship that can extend to other domains of the social life (of the individual and the community in which he lives).

    Paula
    Participant
    Post count: 8

    * Dimensios which seem to be more important to evaluate:
    Health and well-being: – monitoring tools that allow us to combat the sedentary lifestyle and the increasing prevalence of diseases associated with physical inactivity
    Values and traditions: – considering bias and stereotypes (namely in relation to women and age groups), it is important to know the reality (collecting information) so that we can find the appropriate tools to combat those prejudice trends. We are talking about segregation and marginalization and discrimination, often associated with the dominant culture or traditional values that need to be tackled. Segregated and marginalized people belong to the group of those who largely are away from sport or physical activity. It would be important to assess the impact that outdoor/physical activity has on eliminating gender and age inequalities.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 11 months ago by  Paula.
    gaiagiombelli
    Member
    Post count: 5

    1. How local impact generated by outdoor sport activities can be identified and evaluated?
    Local impact can be identified and measured through the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) process; the process is made up by different steps that aim at analysing, monitoring and managing the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, of planned interventions. This methodology is based on a proactive stance to development and better development outcomes; the aim is not just the identification or amelioration of negative or unintended outcomes but rather assisting communities and other stakeholders to identify development goals, and ensuring that positive outcomes are maximized. Furthermore, this methodology builds on local knowledge and utilises participatory processes to analyse the concerns of interested and affected parties. The evaluation develops following four main steps; however, for the analysis of direct and indirect social impacts we can focus mainly on the second and third steps namely:
    Understand the issue: Understand proposed project; clarify roles and responsibilities; social area of influence; community profiling; inform communities; inclusive preparatory processes; scope issue; assemble baseline data.
    Predict, analyse and assess the likely impact pathways: social changes and impacts; indirect impacts; cumulative impacts; affected party responses; significance of changes; projects alternatives.
    Develop and implement strategies: address negative impacts; enhance benefit and opportunities; support communities with change; establish a grievance mechanism; negotiate impacts and benefit agreement; develop social impact management plan; establish partnership to implement social impact management plan; implement ongoing social performance plan.
    Design and implement monitoring programs: indicators to monitor change; participatory monitoring plan; implement adaptive management; evaluation and periodic review.

    gaiagiombelli
    Member
    Post count: 5

    2. To which main questions an analysis of the local impact of outdoor sport activities can provide an answer?
    This analysis of the local impacts of outdoor activities can address the following issues:
    • Do outdoor sports increase people’s health, wellbeing and cognitive capacities?
    • Do outdoor sports contribute to foster bonding and bridging within the community?
    • Are people who play outdoor sports more involved in the community?
    • Do outdoor sports foster the reduction of social tensions within the community?

    gaiagiombelli
    Member
    Post count: 5

    3. Which are the areas of social life you believe social impacts or potential changes are much more deployed?
    The areas of social life where social impacts or potential changes are much more deployed include:
    • Lifestyles (how they live, how they play or interact daily)
    • Health and well-being (physical, social, psychological)
    • Education (development of cognitive skills, educational behavior)
    • Social cohesion (social capital)

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