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The role of research in sport and development


The role of research in sport and development

A key point raised at the recent Brunel University 2 July conference on 'Leveraging the Olympic Games for building sport organisations’ capacity' was the need for evidence based policy. Katerina Girginova interviewed speakers and attendees on this issue.

  • Sir Craig Reedie – vice president, International Olympic Committee & President of the World Anti-Doping Agency
  • Stewart Kellett – director of recreation and partnerships for British Cycling
  • Tim Hollingsworth – chief executive of the British Paralympic Association
  • Emma Boggis – chief executive, Sport & Recreation Alliance (The umbrella body of sports in the UK for 320 national governing bodies of sport)

  • What is the connection between academia, research and sports organisations?

    Sir Craig Reedie

    – If you speak to a scientist they will tell you that research is absolutely essential to everybody’s way of life – the world can’t operate without research. But I’m delighted that there has been an increase over the past couple of years in social sciences research – particularly in Britain – and I suspect it’s because of the bid for and winning of the Games. I think that’s extremely good news. Host cities do things differently so the more good information there is out there, the better the chance the host cities have of getting it right.

    Stewart Kellett – I think it’s crucial. Our lesson at British cycling is if you go through a market-led approach with the right research and develop the right analysis you have a whole different view… if you treat them (people) as customers or consumers and you tap into their motivations better, you tap into the barriers that they have for a sport and you change the way you market that sport and the way you put on your activities. So, it’s absolutely essential that academia supports sport and works with practitioners to make it happen.

    I think British cycling was the first governing body to appoint a research and development team. I don’t think other governing bodies had that and we had people who were experts – that was January 2009 – there was a view that we need the insight before we make big decisions, we need to read on the Olympics and how it can work for us.

    Tim Hollingsworth - I think there is (a connection)… we are very conscious of the ways that narratives develop, often through the thought leadership that’s created in academia. One of the things from a Paralympic perspective is it’s not just about traditional legacy points around sport, and around community participation. It’s actually around a bigger picture – it’s about how a society views itself, it’s around perceptions of disability, it’s particularly about how the role-modeling of Paralympic athletes can challenge people’s perceptions of what a disability is… and that for me, is absolutely worthy of further study.

    Emma Boggis – I think it (academia) definitely should play a role. We know there’s lots of research going on around sport but my concern slightly is that it’s all happening but it doesn’t actually translate into practice. As an example, we’ve just developed a relationship with the European Sports Development network, which is a group of academics looking at sports development. Exactly because of that we want to know what they’re researching… and think about what sport in this country can learn from this.

    [This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Katerina Girginova


Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 23:00