Sport participation from sport events: why it doesn’t happen?

Marijke Taks, B. Chris Green, Laura Misener, Laurence Chalip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present and use an event leveraging framework (ELF) to examine processes and challenges when seeking to leverage a sport event to build sport participation. Design/methodology/approach: The study used an action research approach for which the researchers served as consultants and facilitators for local sports in the context of the International Children’s Games. Initially three sports were selected, and two sports were guided through the full leveraging process. Prior to the event, actions were planned and refined, while researchers kept field notes. Challenges and barriers to implementation were examined through observation immediately prior to and during the event, and through a workshop with stakeholders six weeks after the event, and interviews a year later. Findings: With the exception of a flyer posted on a few cars during the track and field competition, none of the planned action steps was implemented. Barriers included competition and distrust among local sport clubs, exigencies associated with organizing event competitions, the event organizers’ focus on promoting the city rather than its sports, and each club’s insufficient human and physical resources for the task. These barriers were not addressed by local clubs because they expected the event to inspire participation despite their lack of marketing leverage. The lack of action resulted in no discernible impact of the event on sport participation. Research limitations/implications: Results demonstrate that there are multiple barriers to undertaking the necessary steps to capitalize on an event to build sport participation, even when a well-developed framework is used. Specific steps to overcome the barriers need to be implemented, particularly through partnerships and building capacity for leverage among local sport organizations. Originality/value: This study presents the ELF, and identifies reasons why sport events fail to live up to their promise to build sport participation. Necessary steps are suggested to redress that failing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-198
Number of pages14
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 13 2018


  • Evaluation
  • Event leverage
  • Organizational capacity
  • Outcomes
  • Sport clubs
  • Sport organizations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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