Community sport and recreation facilities have an important role in meeting the sport and recreation needs of their residents. The following extract from Tower, McDonald and Stewart (2014) provides some background information about aquatic and recreation centre usage (please note that their work is about aquatic and recreation centres (ARCs):
Recent surveys show that 4.5 million Australians – which accounts for 27% of Australia’s adult population – have participated in some type of gymnasium-based exercise or fitness program (Australian Sports Commission, 2012). As a point of contrast, less than three per cent of Australians play Australian-rules football, while just over four per cent play soccer (Australian Sports Commission, 2012). While many more Australians work out in gyms than play competitive team sports, it is very difficult to ascertain specific details for usage within ARC’s. …
The [Australian Bureau of Statistics] ABS provide a good starting point for estimating ARC usage, and although the 2012 ABS statistics does not subdivide its data into states, the figures for 2010 provide illuminating insights. First and foremost, 78% of participants used facilities for engaging with either organised sport activities or non-organised sport activities. Just over 65% of participants used facilities for organised sport, while 38% of participants used facilities for non-organised sport. When the ‘type;’ of facility used was identified, it was found that 55% of all Victorians undertook some form of sport, exercise or physical recreation activity in a structured facility such as a gym, public pool, or court. (ABS, 2010a)
Local government recreation facilities play a significant role in providing these services to the surrounding community. In 2010, the ABS reported that in Victoria more than 1.5 million people over the age of 15 use recreation facilities in order to pursue a range of leisure activities. The ABS has also reported that over 57% of people that participate in both organised and non-organised sport and physical recreation do so within an indoor sports and fitness centre.
Although the data lacks precision it is clear that ARCs are an important industry sector in the delivery of sport, exercise and physical recreation activities. (p. 16).
We know people are using ARCs but we know very little about the impact of these types of centres or the benefits they provide for their local communities. These fundamental questions were the catalyst for Tower, et al.’s (2014) research about the benefits of ARCs.
What are these types of centres trying to achieve?
The following video will provide you with some insights about what ARCs are trying to achieve:
The full report from Tower, et al (2014) is provided in the resource materials for this week. Have a look at the statements about the Goals / Visions of ARCs in Table 4.8 and the explanation on page 39. Think about your visit to the centre in your local area – can you perceive if they are able to achieve any of these goals.
Leisure community benefits:
Local community sport and recreation centres have a capacity to provide community benefits. They may help to build social capital, be good for the local community and provide opportunities for disadvantaged sectors of the community.
What is social capital? The following video provides a short introduction about social capital and how it can help people make connections in their communities.
Social Capital | 2 mins
Why social capital? The following Ted talk provides an explanation of how social capital can build communities that make everyone more connected and able to welcome people from diverse backgrounds.
Social capital and the power of relationships: Al Condeluci | 19:11
Published on Jun 3, 2014 Al Condeluci, Ph.D. has been an advocate, a catalyst for building community capacities, and leader in understanding social culture since 1970. He is the CEO of Community Living and Support Services (CLASS), a community based support system for folks with all types of disabilities in Pittsburgh, PA. He holds an MSW and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, where he is on faculty in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the School of Social Work. He has also authored 7 books.
Sport, recreation and leisure has great potential for members of a community to build connections and create social capital in their local area. Read the article from Tonts (2005) to see how social capital is developed in a Western Australian rural town.