Legacy by osmosis : investigation of sport development legacies resulting from the conduct of a major sport event

This post is my PhD thesis.

The post contains the abstract and link to the full PDF.

Hodgetts, D. (2011). Legacy by Osmosis? Investigation of sport development legacies resulting from the conduct of a major sport event.Unpublished doctoral thesis, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, QLD, Australia.

Well finally! Here’s my thesis in full. After two years, I have finally taken the leap and made it available online, through the CQUniversity library. It’s also already been indexed by Trove at the National Library of Australia.

It was reading this article So you want people to read your thesis that made me take the leap. It reassured me about some concerns that I had about plagiarism and copyright. The three articles I wanted to publish from my research are all in various stages of writing up for publication, so I’m feeling OK making my work available to the world (it’s a good thing that I am already cringing when I read it back, right?).

Since being made available two days ago, it’s already had 11 visitors, 29 hits and 1 download! However, my fears weren’t been completely allayed. Within twenty four hours of my thesis being online, I received an email from a vanity publishing house. I thought the download may have been them. However,  the constant restructures and changing of department names that we see in universities gives me a timestamp to suggest they got my details from the uni website.

So, if you have been tardy in doing this, I encourage you to take the leap and make your thesis available online.


Thesis abstract

It is becoming a commonly accepted requirement that major sporting events should provide sustainable benefits for host communities. These benefits have previously focussed on economic, tourism and facilities outcomes. However, there is an increasing aspiration to deliver ongoing benefits for sport itself. It was previously thought that merely watching elite sporting events would encourage the general population to participate in sport, although this has not been empirically shown. The literature suggests impacts derived from events are not a passive occurrence; that they need to be leveraged. Yet there is little research examining the sport development benefits that sporting organisations may receive when hosting an event.

To examine measures of development in a sport and determine if they were affected by an event that was not intentionally leveraged, the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships (ASLSC) were profiled. The ASLSC were hosted by Scarborough, Western Australia from 2007-2009, with previous and subsequent events being held in Kurrawa, Queensland. Statistics from Western Australia between 1991 and 2010 were examined in this research. A Sport Development Event Legacy Framework based on the work of Sotiriadou, Shilbury, and Quick (2008) and Cashman (2002) was developed to allow the examination of five dimensions of sport development. The dimensions are player development; coaches, umpires and administration/ management; promotions; stakeholders; and, symbols, memory and history. These were measured in four separate studies that examined membership statistics, newspaper coverage, member surveys and key stakeholder interviews.

Study 1 examined changes in Surf Life Saving Western Australia’s active, junior and total membership rates during the period 1991 to 2010, including when they hosted the ASLSC. Regression analysis allowed for an adjustment to account for changes in the broader membership of Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) observed short term significant increases competitor numbers and performance during the hosting period, but these decreased in 2010. Analysis showed that hosting the event did not contribute to any significant changes to membership, coaching, officiating, or new member awards during the hosting period. These findings suggest there were no sustainable membership legacies created from hosting the ASLSC.

Study 2 was a qualitative content analysis of print media coverage in Western Australia during the period 1997 to 2009. Analysis of 3,378 articles showed an increase in print media coverage between 2007-2009 in the focus areas of the ASLSC, general surf sports and lifesaving. Post event media was not available, so it is difficult to determine if these elevated levels were maintained. Increased organisational awareness, the increased media attention and strengthened media relationships may allow the increased media levels to be sustained.

Study 3 was a survey conducted among 101 patrolling members from Western Australia Metropolitan surf lifesaving clubs. Information about demographics, surf lifesaving background and perceptions of change caused by the ASLSC was collected. The members’ perceptions of changes to membership, competitor numbers, coaching and officiating concurred with the findings of Study 1. Survey responses showed a perceived improvement in relationships with sponsors, government and other community groups. Survey respondents have vibrant, positive memories of the ASLSC and a strong sense of achievement and pride in the organisation resulting from hosting the event. Members reported an unanticipated, but positive, “hard” legacy in the provision of beachfront infrastructure and an amphitheatre by the local government authority. This is the first of its kind for this event, which relies on temporary facilities.

Study 4 was a series of in-depth qualitative interviews conducted with 11 key stakeholders of Surf Life Saving Western Australia. The key stakeholders identified an increase in competitors and competitive opportunities through the duration of the hosting period, better event delivery, increased media and publicity in 2007-2009, enhanced relationships with local and state government and an increased sense of pride in the organisation.

In conclusion, the conduct of an unleveraged major sporting event, the ASLSC from 2007-2009, did not leave any sport development legacies in terms of membership, coaching or officiating. Short term impacts were experienced in competitor numbers, performance and print media exposure, however long term analysis of these was outside the scope of this research. Increased pride in the organisation, stronger external relationships and better facilities were created as a result of the ASLSC. It is recommended that Surf Life Saving Australia undertake leveraging activities to provide long term benefits for ASLSC hosts. The leveraging activities that are chosen will depend on the strategic needs of the local organisation.

Recommendations for future research include: continued observation of the ASLSC’s impact in Western Australia; examining the impact of leveraging strategies on major sport events; and, application of the Sport Development Event Legacy Framework to determine sport development legacies from other major sport events.



Published by

Danya Hodgetts

Dr Danya Hodgetts is a Sport Management consultant, educator and researcher with more than 25 years experience in the sport industry. Danya specialises in developing and implementing innovative education, training and professional development programs for national and state sporting bodies, TAFE and University.

2 thoughts on “Legacy by osmosis : investigation of sport development legacies resulting from the conduct of a major sport event”

  1. Hey Danya,
    well done! I will definitely read this, as it is an area that I am fascinated by and I would love to learn from your work. Congratulations and thanks for sharing!
    Vicki V (ARU)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s