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).

Through a concept mapping study in France among 45 sports and health promotion stakeholders, 10 priorities actions have been identified among 5 main areas (Johnson et al., 2020):

Stakeholders training Systematically integrate training designed for coaches on how the club can influence health individually, collectively and in relation to the environment

Offer the actors from the sports world content on health promotion to integrate into their training courses

Provide training programs/modules for educators in sports-health (take into account persons with pathologies and/or risk factors)

Awarness and mobilisation Offer management and coaches a discovery day of health promotion giving keys to success to encourage them to implement it for their members
Advocacy Advocate for support from federations for health promotion within the clubs
Sharing and Networking Set up a national resource site to promote health within sports clubs

Host a regional network of health promotion advisors within sports clubs (share expertise)

Rely on experiences from other sports clubs to implement health promotion actions

Tools for Health Promotion Create tools so that clubs can integrate health into their health promotion project

Rely on existing proven tools for health promotion