What's Up: Innovation in sports
40% of young Flemish active people play soccer and tennis is on number two of the most popular sports. What about those who are not practising sports in their spare time? Stimulating this group of young people is often a difficult task. This group is already familiar with the all known, traditional sports like soccer, tennis, basketball… They have all been exposed to the traditional sports in physical education classes, by playing with friends, watching sports on TV and similarly but they never experienced the spark that motivates them to play a sport more often. In order to try to motivate these youngsters it does not suffice to promote (just) these traditional sports.
If we want to activate as many youngsters as possible, it is necessary to offer them a wide range of sports and activities. Innovation in sports could be the key to make people move and avoid sedentary behaviour later on. The wider the range of sports presented, the bigger the odds that someone discovers a sport that suits their abilities and interest. The idea that there is a perfect sport for every person means that everyone should get the opportunity to develop themselves in a physical, mental and social way through enjoying sports.
The responsibility to expose children to a variety of sports lies not only with the parents. On one hand schools should offer less popular sports and more new sports in physical education classes. A big advantage here is that a lot of children are participating and discovering new sports. Unfortunately physical education classes consist of primarily traditional sports. On the other hand new sports can be promoted by sport organizations. Children discover new sports by participating in sport camps, by free initiation lessons, by commercials, gadgets, etc. Unfortunately, newly established sport organizations often do not have the means to promote their sport as much as they would like to. On top of that, small (but often promising) sport organizations do not have a lot of subsidies or funding opportunities.
Motivating the less active segment of the population should not only be done by supporting traditional sports. Innovation could be the key to getting people on the move!
The author Simon Plasschaert from Belgium graduated in physical education and movement science at the University of Ghent and is a Frisbee player.
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