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ActiveVoice - Has the traditional sport structure done its dash?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Having recently re-entered the sport sector, it’s clear that there has been a drastic change in the last five years around how participants engage with sport.

This raises the question of why engagement with sport has changed, but more importantly the test we face to be able to adapt and remain relevant for our participants. Sport in New Zealand is no less valuable today than it used to be. Participation in sport creates happier, healthier people, and better connected communities. Sport has always been part of our make up as Kiwis and always will be. There is, however, a difference between our media driven make up (All Blacks, Black Caps, Silver Ferns to name a few) and community sport participation.

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Community sport faces a significant challenge ahead: Stick with what we know or adapt the traditional to continue to survive? The forward thinkers will be fine, the static ones may struggle.

The notion “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” comes to mind. While traditional sport isn’t broken at high performance level, community sport offerings are in need of a major shakeup if they are to continue to be able to promote and deliver all the benefits we know come from participating in sport. The challenge is in continuing to provide pathways that lead back to traditional sport structures for those who show potential at a high performance level.

So we now fall into the category of having struggling regional and national sports organisations who are desperately trying to service a wider range of needs and wants from their consumers, and all at the risk of falling participation numbers and against funding pressures. It’s a tough job and requires some significant change from the organisers of sport, and we all know just how hard change can be.

Consider that next time you head out for a game of touch, 3 on 3 basketball or similar, there’s always a lot of participants driven by only a small number of organisers and administrators – so take it easy on them. Remember in a world loaded with rapid change, sport continues to be driven by a group of passionate volunteers trying to adapt as best they can to fulfil your needs

One thing that’s not broken, though, is the benefits of participating in sport. The benefits will always be there. It’s just how we get people participating that might need to change.

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