Discussions Papers

The Sports Think Tank aims to produce a number of high quality pieces of research and analysis each year. All reports are available on our website free of charge.

Turning the rhetoric of Uniting the Movement into Reality

Over coming months Sport England will be announcing further investment in expanding place based working. It continues to advocate for the future of public leisure facilities at a place level. But successful system change will depend on investing in system leadership development to create the capacity, capability and confidence to facilitate the scale of culture change needed. Place working, pivoting public leisure and developing system leadership must be seen through one lens as a single integrated place based change programme.

Proportionate Universalism

Proportionate universalism is the resourcing and delivering of universal services at a scale and intensity proportionate to the degree of need. Services are therefore universally available, not only for the most disadvantaged, and are able to respond to the level of presenting need.

This is a real challenge for our sector. Too often our work has been to look after those predisposed to being active. The gross inequalities in society are reflected in our sector. To tackle health inequalities we need to change the way we work.

Implementing Sport Policy

Collaboration with Marc Keech, Iain Lindsey and John Hayton on the book with Routledge in sport business and Management

"Implementing Sport Policy" - organisational perspectives on the UK sport system.

The Sector in a Post Coronavirus World

The Coronavirus pandemic has turned the sport and physical activity world upside down. From the cancellation of every major sports event, through community clubs and the closure of Gyms we are all affected.

The sector has responded by continually innovating and bodies like Sport England have stepped in to help with the immediate effects on community sport. Plenty of organisations are moving to webinars and Zoom meetings for getting through the crisis.

We are working with partners across the sector to start to think about what the new 'normal' will look like when we return after the current lockdown is slowly lifted.

We need you help and input as we ask this important question!

Sport Integrity Workshop

A debate about sporting integrity between young people and representatives from UNICEF, UK Anti-Doping and the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will take place at Loughborough University next week.

Youngsters from local schools will join, academics, PhD researchers and policymakers from national sporting organisations and international charities at Loughborough University Football Stadium, on Thursday, November 8.

#TheFword - Learning through Failure

Working with Upshot we have launched a piece of work to help the sector to embrace learning through failure.

#TheFWord conference was held at City Hall on the 19th October 2018 and a dedicated website has been launched jointly with Upshot, The Sports Think Tank and our headline partners Sport:80

The Failure Word

A summary report investigating the level of duty of care understanding in community sport settings in the UK

Duty of care

This review follows the Duty of Care in Sport report (April, 2017) led by Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, DL which sets out clear recommendations that aim to look after the people at the very heart of the sector – the people who take part and volunteer.

This research by the Sports Think Tank looks specifically at community sport provision and reviews a broad range of UK sports organisations, including County Sport Partnerships, National Governing Bodies, Associations, Federations, and Charitable Trusts.


An appraisal into the future of County Sport Partnerships

Sports Think Tank Director Andy Reed OBE was asked by the Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP in the Summer of 2016 to carry out an appraisal of the CSPs as outlined in the #SportingFutures strategy.

The Report attached was delivered to the Minister at DCMS on 11th August 2016 and published here and on the Sport England website.

This Report highlights the need for greater consistency of service delivery, accountability and transparency for Sport England investment in the CSP network. It calls for a new 'Core Purpose and specification' for CSPs and for this to be made widely known and available. The CSPs will continue to play an important role alongside other partners in the delivery of the Sport England and DCMS strategies.


Erasmus+ and the UK Sport Sector

Following the referendum in June the concept of Brexit and what it could mean to the UK has been much debated, including in other blogs on this website. As we move towards the triggering of Article 50 and kick starting Brexit negotiations, it is important that the UK sport sector has a clear picture of the level of funding it receives from the EU and can seek to retain that level of funding, either through continued participation in EU programmes or through equivalent funding at the national level.

Today Sports Think Tank publishes a report by EOSE on Erasmus+ funding for UK sport organisations. Erasmus+ is the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport, worth €14.7 billion over seven years from 2014 – 2020. The report lists various projects and the funding attached to them. Although it is difficult to arrive at a definitive figure of financial support to the UK sport sector from Erasmus+ it is a significant source of income to the sector.

We are grateful for Ben Gittus for this excellent report and allowing us to share it with you.

New Players, New Tactics: Views on Sports Policy

The Sports Think Tank have launched New Players, New Tactics: Views on Sports Policy ahead of the launch of a new government strategy on sport - the first since 2002. This report collects views from senior representatives on the risks and challenges for current and future sports policy.

The Sports Think Tank conducted a survey of 100 senior sports industry figures to gauge their opinions on the state of UK sports policy in 2015.

There were three primary objectives of this research:

  • Evaluate the successes and failures of sports policy in the last 10 years
  • Explore the main challenges facing the sports sector in the next 10 years
  • Assess how sports policy will need to adapt now to mitigate the risks and challenges, and embrace new opportunities

Give us our ball back: reclaiming sport for the common good

Give us our ball back: reclaiming sport for the common good

In this report, the Sports Think Tank, in partnership with Theos Think Tank, explore the role of sport in society. It suggests that sport is no longer just a matter of leisure, entertainment or of spectacular international tournaments. We have come to expect it to make us better people, to contribute to world peace, to develop our economies and make us healthy. Clearly, sport can do these things, but the report argues that firstly we need to be clear that sport has now often been reduced to being a tool rather than something with intrinsic worth; and secondly that in using the tool of sport, specific agendas are over-promised and under-delivered due to the very nature of sport itself.

Please also see attached results from a ComRes poll comissioned by Theos and the Sports Think Tank in June 2012 on how sport is currently perceived by the public.

Executive summary

Survey results

Sports bodies should be better sports

Sports bodies should be better sports

In this short report, Sallie Pettipher, Senior Partner at Green and Gold and former architect of the RFU's All Schools Campaign, discusses the important role sporting charitable foundations should play in our society. She explores the role that sport can play in changing society for the better and the success of the Football Foundation and the Cricket Foundation's Chance to Shine initiative. She argues that the national governing bodies of sport should not fear creating independent foundations to deliver philanthropic sport provision that has a strong social impact. In doing so, sport will help make a significant difference in local communities and individual lives as well as supporting an NGBs main 'on field' sporting objectives.

The role of policy: interview with I Sport Connect

Sports Think Tank Director Mark Balcar speaks to iSportconnect with Badminton England Chief Executive Adrian Christie on the crucial impact policy making has on the sports sector, in particular highlighting of the areas where governments have had successes and failures over the past 10 years. Full interview here

Sports Think Tank are always looking for new, exciting opportunities to conduct research and publish our findings for the wider benefit to the sports sector. We like to ensure that these come to life through debate and discussion.