The Theory of HPSC
Why is the health promoting sports clubs’ approach important?
The role that sport plays in society is important, but often underestimated and underexploited by sports actors, as underlined by the White Paper on Sport from the European Comission or by the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030 of the World Health Organisation. With a membership of 12% of the European adult population, approximately 615 120 000 individuals, and 6% as volunteers (Sport Eurobarometer 2018), the sport sector and especially national sports federations and their affiliated clubs make an important contribution to people’s lives.
While the benefits of physical activity are well demonstrated benefits (Eime, Young, Harvey, Charity, & Payne, 2013; Oja et al., 2015), sports can be damaging for some individuals (e.g. harassment, abuse, injuries). Unfortunately, sports participation is not automatically healthy, with some research suggesting that sports clubs promote active lifestyles but unhealthy diets (Kelly, Chapman, King, Hardy, & Farrell, 2008). Evidence has also highlighted increased risk of injury and/or burnout in sports participants, increased alcohol consumption and violence, due to practices within specific sport settings (DiFiori et al., 2014; Sønderlund et al., 2014), while sponsorship and advertising of unhealthy products in sport settings has been observed to have negative influences on health (Giles-Corti et al., 2001).
Research has also demonstrated that sports clubs can achieve improvements in health in the standard of sport practices and sporting environments (Van Hoye, Sarrazin, Heuzé, & Kokko, 2015), by tapping into the educational nature of sport and organisational strategies (Wolfenden et al., 2015). Nevertheless, multiple barriers, such as their voluntary base, staff turnover, the lack of knowledge, the absence of written policies and a focus on resourcing for performance rather than health have been identified (Casey, Harvey, Eime, & Payne, 2012; Kingsland et al., 2015).