Report examines equality within Scotland’s sport sector

Published: 27 Jan 2016

sportScotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have published a report into equality in Scottish sport. The report looks at who currently participates in sport, the barriers to participation, and suggests potential solutions.

The Equality and Sport research report was commissioned and managed by sportScotland, funded by the EHRC, supported by the Scottish government, and conducted by Research Scotland. This is a resource for people to learn about equality which aims to help organisations across the sport sector drive improvement.

The report found that awareness of equalities in the sporting sector has significantly increased in recent years and also summarises the key challenges facing the sector. Women, people with disabilities, Pakistani adults, and people of Muslim faith are all less likely to take part in sport, while less information was available about sport and sexual orientation, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, and marriage and civil partnerships.

It also identified a number of key themes which can affect participation: negative experiences of PE, concerns about self-esteem and body confidence, the attitudes of others and the influence of family and peers, as well as issues relating to facilities, opportunities, and pathways.

There were also signposts to good examples within the report where organisations in sport have taken action, such as Trust Rugby Club becoming Scotland’s first registered unified rugby club, where disabled players train and play in the same team as non-disabled players, and transgender specific swimming sessions being offered through Glenogle Swim Centre.

Commenting on the report, sportScotland Chief Executive Stewart Harris said:

"It is pleasing the report outlines that significant progress has been made in recent years in Scotland in raising awareness and understanding of equalities.

"Equalities and Inclusion is a priority in sportScotland’s 2015-19 Corporate Plan as part of our mission to develop a world-class sporting system for everyone in Scotland. This report is a powerful resource to help organisations across sport drive improvement in equality and inclusion.

"sportScotland will use this research to refocus and refine our work, provide leadership for the sector, and keep raising awareness of the importance of equality and inclusion. We will continue working in partnership with sports, local authorities and their leisure agencies, clubs, and other sports organisations to achieve better accessibility and inclusion for everyone across Scottish sport."

Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, said:

"I welcome this report from sportScotland, which highlights some of the barriers that stop people from participating in sport, and also some of the excellent work that’s going on around Scotland to encourage sport for all. We will study the recommendations and continue to work with sportScotland, the Equality and Human Rights Commission – who I met with this month - and other partners to reduce inequality and increase participation, in line with our Active Scotland Outcomes Framework.

"There is much work already underway to close inequality gaps in physical activity participation. We are funding projects around the country that focus on some of these hard-to-reach groups where activity levels are lowest. This includes the Legacy 2014 Physical Activity fund, which has seen £800,000 invested in projects targeted in just this way. To provide more and better places to be active, we are working with sportScotland and remain on track to deliver 150 Community Sport Hubs across all local authority areas by next year. To date, 142 are already in place.  In addition, our £10 million Legacy 2014 Active Places fund has benefited 188 projects in every corner of Scotland."

Scotland Director of the EHRC Alastair Pringle said:

"This research shows the importance of listening to people’s needs and the opportunities they actually want. We know that access to physical activity from the playground to the podium differs and some groups benefit more than others, so we are not surprised the research shows more work is needed to further inclusion in sport. There have been great strides made in access, public attitudes have greatly benefited from the recognition that our Paralympians got, and there has been a growth of interest in sports such as women's football, however, there remains much to be done.

"We support the commitments made by sportScotland and the Scottish government to progress equality in sports, but we need to see clear and measurable progress. This research points to some of the barriers and offers a framework for building strong and inclusive foundations from grassroots to sports’ governing bodies."

Notes to editors

The research comprised four main stages: reviewing existing evidence, surveying almost 600 people who work in the sports sector, holding ten discussion groups with employees in the sports sector, and holding nine discussion groups with people with protected characteristics.

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