Examining the influence of the London 2012 Olympic Games on physical activity in Australian Queensland adults

This post is my presentation from the Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) 2013 Conference.

The post contains the abstract, presentation video and slides.

Hodgetts, D., & Duncan, M. (2013). Examining the influence of the London 2012 Olympic Games on physical activity in Australian Queensland adults. Paper presented at the Sport Management Association of Australia New Zealand Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand.

PLEASE NOTE: Not my best presentation! This was my first presentation using Ustream and my phone was flashing tweets and notifications while I was talking. VERY distracting!!!

This research aims to empirically determine the impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games on the physical activity levels of Australian (Queensland) Adults. It is commonly reported in the media that merely watching elite sporting events encourages the general population to participate in sport. Much of the discussion about the impact that major sport events have on participation is subjective and is not supported by empirical evidence. There were some anecdotal findings that the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games created a greater interest in sport, but there was no evidence that the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games had any impact on physical activity or sport participation in Australia (Armstrong, Bauman, Ford, & Davies, 2002; Veal & Toohey, 2005).

To the contrary, it has actually been suggested that the Olympic Games has a “discouragement effect” whereby watching elite athletes’ prowess has a negative impact on sport participation (Hindson, Gidlow, & Peebles, 1994). Another report (SportScotland, 2004) suggests that elite sport success may only have an impact on those who are already sufficiently active, with little impact on those who report no activity, or are insufficiently active. This notion is supported by research conducted by Weed (2009).

In October 2012, two months after the London Olympic Games (LOG), 1,256 Queensland, Australia residents aged 18 and over consented to participate in a computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) survey. Participants completed the Active Australia survey to determine physical activity levels. Participants were also asked about their consumption of media during the LOG, whether the LOG influenced their intended or actual physical activity levels, and the motives for their response.

Initial analysis shows that 80% of respondents reported consuming some media regarding the LOG, with 44% reporting an increased amount of media consumption for that period. Eighty three per cent of respondents said that the LOG did not have any effect on their intention to undertake sport or physical activity. Additionally, 85% of respondents reported no actual increases in sport or physical activity levels that they would attribute to LOG.

Preliminary analysis shows the LOG did not have a large impact on sport and physical activity levels in Australian (Queensland) adults. While there may be cultural differences between different countries, this research makes a contribution towards a greater understanding of mass participation legacies from mega events. Full inferential and qualitative analysis will be completed and reported at SMAANZ.

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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.

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