Sport ‘letting down’ BAME people according to Sport England report

Sport England has published Sport for All, a new report into BAME participation in sport across the country.

The report’s findings are drawn from the responses of more than 100,000 people who contributed to the body’s Active Lives Adult and Children Surveys, and show that people from BAME backgrounds are far more likely to be physically inactive than those who are white.

The report also finds that people from minority ethnic backgrounds are also far less likely to volunteer in sport, as well as enjoying the health and mental wellbeing benefits associated with it.

According to Sport England, 62% of adults meet the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of 150 minutes of physical activity a week, but that number drops to just 56% among black people and 55.1% among Asian people (excluding Chinese people). 

Chris Grant, a member of the Sport England Board, the Chair of the Sport Industry Awards Judging Panel and a Sport Industry NextGen Coach, said he was concerned that sport isn’t leading the way on this issue, and is letting down the BAME community.

“I’m convinced that sport must be a leader, and not a follower,” he said. “That’s why I want to invite and challenge the whole of sport to come with us on this journey, and in doing so to be clear-sighted and honest about the ways in which we’re currently excluding and letting down whole swathes of our population.

“When it suits us, we’re happy to talk about the leadership role that sport can play; its capacity to inspire a nation or to transform lives. No other aspect of national life has so many column inches and broadcast hours devoted to it.

“But there’s an elevated level of discomfort when talking about race and culture in sport and we need to get beyond this if we are genuinely going to do something about the ethnicity gap.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO, Sport England, meanwhile, added: “Sport For All is more than a snappy event title, it’s a sentiment that cuts right to the heart of Sport England’s vision and ambition. But we must recognise that as a sector and as a system there just hasn’t been the concerted joined up effort to understand and critically address the ethnicity gap in participation.

“We all have a huge opportunity to create innovative new ways of designing sport and physical activity so that many more people can see it as something for them, for people who look like them, for people from their communities.

“We absolutely recognise that there are complex, interconnected mixture of issues at play here and it would be wrong and reductive to think that there is one simple answer.

“And we also recognise there are many others who hold the expertise needed to create real change and we are committed to learning from those experts.”

First published 27.01.20:

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