The role of the sports infrastructure is very important to understand how the people of a nation get inspired to participate in different kinds of sports activities. The sports in the United Kingdom are managed by U.K. Sport. It is known to encourage its people to participate in different kinds of sports such as Football, Tennis, Rugby, Golf and many other activities. There is a strong connection between various integral factors including the involvement of the key governmental and non-governmental sports-related bodies, the relationship between politics, policies and practices that are shared among the people, etc. The nation is known to encourage people to take part in sports at the individual level as well as at the community level (Facts, 2018). The fundamental intention here is to assess the sports infrastructure of the country and identify the key factors that come into play and influence the varied levels of sports participation and sports leadership in the UK, about gender (Facts, 2018).
In the United Kingdom, a wide range of social classes exists that influence the sports participation scenario. Sports acts as a major getaway that allows people to strengthen their overall societal engagement.
According to the paper titled “Sports participation in England” by Luke Audickas, the participation of men is more than that of women in England. As per the findings of the ‘Active Lives Survey’, 63 per cent of men participated in sports as compared to only 58 per cent of women for the ‘year ending May 2017’ (Cotton & Fontana, 2018). The same trend was observed in Wales as well.
As per the data that was presented by Statista, about 40.7 per cent of the males and about 31.7 per cent of the females in the United Kingdom participate in different kinds of sports activities every week (Facts, 2018). The further breakdown of the participants shows that in England it reaches 70 per cent, in Scotland the participation is 19 per cent, in Wales it comes to 6 per cent and in Northern Ireland, the sports participation is 5 per cent (Facts, 2018). Thus as per the details that have been captured, it can be stated that the presence and participation of men in U.K. sports settings are stronger as compared to their female counterparts. But women are sincerely trying to strengthen their participation and bridge the gap that currently exists relating to sports participation (Facts, 2018).
As per the study titled “Gender equality in sport leadership” by Johanna A Adriaanse, the gender factor about sports leadership is constructed fundamentally on the key dimensions of ‘production and power relations’ and ‘symbolic relations’ (Adriaanse & Claringbould, 2016). The former model emphasizes more women in the sports leadership position and the latter model tries to create a robust sporting culture that values the participation of women at different levels.
As per the publication on ‘The Conversation’, in the 21st century, women are making their presence felt in different fields including science, technology, space and research. But the presence of women in the sports leadership context is somewhat negligible. (The Conversation, 2018) The U.K. government and the sports bodies are making a sincere attempt to encourage more women to take up a leadership position in the sports-based setting. In the global scenario also the facts are not very encouraging. It is a shame to state that the FIFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the football’s international governing organization have not been led by women leaders. The
Source: (The Conversation, 2018)
As per the study that was carried out by ‘Women on Boards’ in 2014, no real progress has been seen relating to the presence of women in the sports leadership scenario. The National Football Association has a long way to go. As per the findings, there are no women on the ‘Scotland Football Association’s mainboard and there is only one female member in both the Football Association and Football Association of Wales board (BBC Sport, 2018).
Gender is an important basis of classification that influences the sports participation and sports leadership setting in the United Kingdom. As per recent studies, it has been observed that in England, the gender gap in the sports setting has declined in the recent years. The scenario in Scotland also seems to be changing (Facts, 2018). According to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, there is an upward trend in Scotland relating to the increasing participation of young females. Even though the gender gap in the U.K. sports scenario is reducing day by day, it is really necessary to map the inequality in sports participation and in sports leadership (Page, 2018).
Some of the key factors that come into play and influence the varied levels of sports participation and sports leadership in the United Kingdom in relation to the gender include the employment status, social class, disability, age and circumstances, location, etc. By the age of only 14, twice the total numbers of girls drop out of sports activities as compared to the boys. Some of the key factors that have been identified by the Women’s Sports Foundation include the fewer opportunities, poor experience and social stigma (Women’s Sports Foundation, 2018).
Social Status – The women that belong to the deprived social class do not get the opportunity to participate in sports due to the lack of proper guidance and opportunity. According to a publication by “Play for Change”, various latent elements do not allow girls and women to participate in sports-based activities such as the high cost of participating, the limited availability of the relevant childcare options, lack of any influential role models, issues relating to body image, etc. (Page, 2018).
Male-dominated culture – In the olden times, sports were considered to be a male thing so naturally there exist several prejudices about sexuality which acts as a barrier for women in the U.K. sports setting. Due to this attitude, various women do not show interest in sports at all. Due to the orthodox attitude of people, the women that are interested in sports sometimes fear being perceived in a certain way (Funding4sport.co.uk, 2018).
Disability or other medical conditions – On various occasions, the disability of an individual and the lack of government support comes into play and discourage the women to make a change in the sports setting by actively participating and showing interest in the sports leadership positions. As per the Active People Survey, the people with disability involve themselves in sports much less as compared to the people without any kind of disability or medical condition.
The females with disability face several challenges in the sports setting relating to the lack of the presence of inaccessibility facilities and equipment, the lower presence of the coaching and mentoring staff members, and the negative attitude by the other sports members or participants and the lack of role models in the sports setting (Funding4sport.co.uk, 2018).
Age and circumstances – As per research studies, age is an important factor that influences sports participation about gender. When women age their enthusiasm for physical activities and sports seem to decline which limits their involvement in such fun activities. As per the study “Understanding participation in sport: What determines sports participation among 15-19-year-old women”, the gender gap in the sports setting gets intensified with the advancement of age. Similarly, lifestyle changes play a critical role and affect the participation of women in sports (Sportengland.org, 2018).
The invisibility of female sports activities – The media seems to be quite biased when it comes to female sports members. In various sports setting such as participation in the community setting, elite athletics, and sports leadership, women are underrepresented in the sports context. The media does not highlight female participation and sports leadership as much as male sports information. This factor adversely affects the sports participation of women in the U.K. sports setting (Funding4sport.co.uk, 2018).
The presence of women in the United Kingdom sports setting has increased as compared to the recent past but still, there is a difference between the percentage of male participation and the percentage of female participation. The U.K. Sports organization plays an important role to encourage more women to take part in different kinds of sports-based activities. The key factors that come into play and underpin the varied levels of sports participation and sports leadership in the U.K. have been thoroughly assessed here. Some of the key factors that come into play and influence sports participation and sports leadership include the social status of the people, the presence of any kind of a long-term medical ailment or disability, the support of the government, policies relating to sports and political factors. There is still scope for women to strengthen their presence in the sports setting in the U.K. and achieve leadership positions.
Adriaanse, J.A. and Claringbould, I., 2016. Gender equality in sport leadership: From the Brighton Declaration to the Sydney Scoreboard. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 51(5), pp.547-566.
BBC Sport. 2018. Women in sport: ‘No real progress over sport gender gap‘. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/sport/olympics/37371301 [Accessed 9 May 2018].
Cotton, R. and Fontana, C., 2018. Political parties at critical junctures: explaining the decisions to offer referendums on constitutional change in the United Kingdom. Contemporary British History, pp.1-27.
Funding4sport.co.uk. 2018. Barriers to women and girls’ participation in sport and physical activity. [online] Available at: https://funding4sport.co.uk/downloads/women_barriers_participation.pdf [Accessed 9 May 2018].
Facts, S. 2018. Topic: Sports in the United Kingdom (UK). [online] www.statista.com. Available at: https://www.statista.com/topics/3685/sports-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/ [Accessed 9 May 2018].
Page, m. 2018. Understanding the Gender Gap in Sports Participation. [online] Play For Change. Available at: https://www.playforchange.org/latest/2016/7/29/understanding-the-gender-gap-in-sports-participation [Accessed 9 May 2018].
Sportengland.org. 2018. Understanding participation in sport: What determines sports participation among 1 5 – 19-year-old women?. [online] Available at: https://www.sportengland.org/media/3657/15-19-yr-olds-leaflet-final-pdf-1.pdf [Accessed 9 May 2018].
The Conversation. 2018. Women are missing in sport leadership, and it’s time that changed. [online] Available at: http://theconversation.com/women-are-missing-in-sport-leadership-and-its-time-that-changed-69979 [Accessed 9 May 2018].
Women’s Sports Foundation. 2018. Factors Influencing Girls’ Participation in Sports – Women’s Sports Foundation. [online] Available at: https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/support-us/do-you-know-the-factors-influencingOrder Now