1. A paradox of sport management and physical activity interventions§
Karla A. Henderson *
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Box 8004 Biltmore, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8004
1. Deﬁnitional comparisons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
1.1. Physical activity and health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
1.2. Sports and physical activity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
1.3. Models for getting people more physically active . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
1.4. Physical activity interventions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
2. Conclusions about physical activity and sport management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
Two stories provide a personal context for reviewing physical activity intervention literature and its implications for
sport management practice and research. Almost 20 years ago, I had an opportunity to visit the UK to meet scholars who
were conducting research about women and leisure. Leisure studies as a ﬁeld of scholarly inquiry was relatively new in both
the UK and the U.S. Since the academic areas of recreation and leisure studies had largely emerged from physical education as
the parent ﬁeld, leisure scientists in the U.S. seemingly had distanced themselves from sports as a synonym for leisure. In the
UK, however, less differentiation existed between leisure and sport. For example, the ﬁrst major large-scale research study
on women and leisure had been underwritten by the Sports Council of the UK. I asked a colleague how sport was so well
Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–65
A R T I C L E I N F O
A B S T R A C T
Managers of sports programs, facilities, and organizations can have a role in promoting
health through physical activity participation. From the perspective of a leisure scientist
who has examined various dimensions of leisure-time physical activity, this paper aims to
appraise the status of how sports as potential physical activity interventions have been
examined, particularly in the sport management literature. Although the purpose of many
sport management organizations is to encourage spectatorship, sports have always offered
signiﬁcant opportunities for children and adults to be more physically active. Sports are a
motivator for physical activity because they are enjoyable to participants. Therefore,
research done by academics in sports management could reﬂect more about how mass
participation recreational sports can serve as interventions to promote healthy physical
activity behavior for individuals and within communities.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Note: Thanks are extended to George Cunningham for inviting me to submit this paper and to the reviewers as well as my colleague at North Carolina
State University, Jonathan Casper, for comments that helped to improve the paper.
* Tel.: +919 513 0352; fax: +919 515 3687.
E-mail address: email@example.com.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Sport Management Review
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/smr
1441-3523/$ – see front matter. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
2. integrated into leisure curricula in the UK. My colleague responded that in the U.S., sport was connoted with a capital ‘‘S’’
while in the UK, it was a small ‘‘s.’’ I have reﬂected on that explanation often over the years as it seemed to ring true. My UK
colleague’s perception was that the context of Sports meant elite competition and sports referred to the idea of ‘‘sports for all.’’
A second conversation was with a colleague doing research in the broad ﬁeld of public health and ‘‘active living.’’ This
person was adamant that ‘‘sport management is a deterrent to physical activity’’ because the focus of academic education as
well as research was not about the physical health of the general public. I disagreed with that dogmatic statement but it may
hold true depending on how sports are studied and managed.
In examining the sport management literature from the past 20 years, however, it appears that the focus has been
primarily concerned with topics related to Sports as spectatorship or entertainment and not sports as opportunities to
engage mass participation in active behaviors that can lead to better health. For example, I undertook a quick
examination of the unit of analysis/population studied in the research article abstracts that appeared in Sports
Management Review since its inception in 1998 through 2007 (i.e., 10 years, 22 issues, N = 104 articles). Ten (10%) of the
manuscripts addressed issues related to teaching and research in the ﬁeld of sport management. About 30% (n = 31) of
the articles were focused directly on entertainment and spectators (e.g., fandom, professional team loyalty, ticketing
sales). Only six articles (6%) focused on active participation for youth, older adults, families, or the general population.
The remaining articles (55%; n = 57) dealt with organizational issues such as employee behavior, organizational
structure, supervising volunteers, and other management issues that included primarily professional, collegiate, and
amateur organizations and only a handful of community entities. Some of these organization-focused articles had
implications for sports participation but most were focused on organizational issues rather than speciﬁcally how to get
the general public more active through recreational sports. By deﬁnition, sports management should address
‘‘management,’’ but management for both entertainment and participation may require further examination. Green
(2005) advocated for a normative level of sport development that includes high performance, competitive, and mass
participation sports opportunities. This emphasis on mass participation as the foundation for higher levels of
participation does not appear evident in the sports management literature.
The focus of sport management research from examining SMR as well as a cursory look at similar sports journals (e.g.,
Journal of Sport Management, The Sport Journal, International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing) for this paper seems
to present a paradox between sport as entertainment and active sports participation. Some sports studies journals address
participation issues to a greater extent (e.g., Journal of Sport Sciences, Journal of Sport Behavior, Journal of Sport and Exercise
Psychology) and perhaps these outlets sufﬁce for addressing physical activity in sports. However, I would argue that given the
proportion of concern existing worldwide for the contributions that sports can make to addressing community health and
inactivity (United Nations, 2003), sports managers and sports management researchers may want to consider how sports
can be an opportunity for physical activity interventions.
The purpose of this paper is to appraise the status of sports as potential physical activity interventions. The (false)
dichotomy of the focus on sports management as entertainment or participation is the foundation for suggesting that a
greater balance might be possible in the sports management ﬁeld to include more research about the implications of sport
management for physical activity participation.
1. Deﬁnitional comparisons
The deﬁnition of terms related to sport management and physical activity may be useful to consider. Deﬁnitions are
always arbitrary, and words have nuances that reﬂect different meanings. A term in any standard dictionary usually results
in more than one deﬁnition described. For example, the word personality can be a quality of being a person, a personal
identity, habits and qualities of behavior, the sum of the qualities, or a notable person (Webster, 1966). Similarly, the
deﬁnitions of physical activity, exercise, sport(s), sport management, and leisure (and leisure-time) connote different meanings
within and among the terms.
Many researchers use the classic deﬁnition by Caspersen, Powell, & Christenson (1985) for physical activity as bodily
movement produced by skeletal muscles resulting in energy expenditure. Physical activity can include, but is not limited to
occupational, sports, exercise, household, or other daily and leisure activities. In contrast, exercise is planned and
structured with a speciﬁc purpose to ‘‘improve or maintain one or more components of physical ﬁtness’’ (p. 128). This
distinction between physical activity and exercise is important in promoting health because physical activity is broader
and does not necessarily include moving in a regimented manner as suggested by exercise. Although sports offer the
opportunity for exercise, they offer many other physical as well as mental beneﬁts that can improve an individual or a
community’s quality of life (Dishman, 2003). Most people would rather get their physical activity through something
enjoyable such as sports participation or other leisure activities than through calisthenics. Further, participation used in
the context of this paper refers to ‘‘the performance of activities, which inherently require moderately intense physical
exertion, and are perceived by the individual as relatively freely chosen as well as either beneﬁcial or enjoyable’’ (Beaton &
Funk, 2008, p. 55).
Sports include a range of activities that involve rules, physical exertion, and/or coordination and competition between
individuals. Sports generally require demonstrating physical prowess that determines the outcome of an activity (i.e.,
winning or losing) and are rule-bound (Loy, McPherson, & Kenyon, 1978). However, sports are sometimes used to describe
any type of competition regardless of physical prerequisites (e.g., NASCAR, poker, chess, video games). Thus, sports can have
K.A. Henderson / Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–6558
3. elements not related to physical ability, but these examples are less common than the assumption of some type of physical
exertion (i.e., either athletes being watched or the active participation).
The difference between sport and sports is somewhat unclear as they are used interchangeably. Sports most often refers to
activities and sport connotes an all encompassing concept. Sport can refer to organized entertainment (i.e., spectator)
opportunities and sports as participants’ exertion in activities. Although the duality of entertainment and physical
participation may be a false dichotomy, they offer two ends of a spectrum related to sports and sport management.
The context for Sport Management (SM) as the foundation for this paper denotes a collective view of sports activities, and
represents a ﬁeld of study that primarily addresses the business side of sports. According to the North American Society of
Sport Management (2008), SM focuses on business applications to sports that may include sport marketing, employment
perspectives, management competencies, event management, leadership, sport and the law, personnel management, facility
management, organizational structures, fund raising, and conﬂict resolution. Most of these applications relate indirectly to
helping the public be more physically active and to necessarily promoting physical health. Therefore, SM appears to be
somewhat paradoxical relative to entertainment and active participation as well as business and health. Managing sports for
the recreational participation of youth and adults resulting in health outcomes is less obvious in the SM literature than the
emphasis on business and entertainment. Compelling reasons exist in today’s society, however, to consider more directly the
relationships among physical activity, sports, and health promotion when possible.
When tied to physical activity, leisure is often used in the context of leisure time physical activity (LTPA), which is a
narrow view of leisure from the perspective of many leisure scientists (Howe & Rancourt, 1990; Rojek, 2005). Leisure is
more than activities or free time and is often described related to a psychological states including elements of intrinsic
outcomes (e.g., enjoyment) and perceived freedom (i.e., choice). Therefore, physical activity that occurs in leisure such
as through sports participation may offer intrinsic mental (Dishman, 2003; Fox, 1999) as well as extrinsic physical
beneﬁts. ‘‘Physical activity by choice’’ may be a way to think about how LTPA is connected to both physical and mental
health (Henderson & Bialeschki, 2005, p. 358). Sports and leisure are not synonymous although many people enjoy
sports as participants and/or spectators during their leisure. For some people, leisure may include anything but sports,
but for others, their leisure lives may be consumed with sports in some form (e.g., an ardent sports fan, a volunteer
leader in a sports club).
Finally, the terms active recreation or active leisure are commonly used in the parks and recreation ﬁeld today. Leisure
might include many activities and experiences, but recreation generally refers to voluntary, organized, and enjoyable
activities that occur during free time (Henderson et al., 2001). Active recreation or active leisure are umbrella terms for a
wide range of free time or leisure activities that include sports, exercise, and physical recreation (Tsai, 2005). The other
binary term used in contrast to active recreation is passive recreation (e.g., sitting quietly, enjoying nature, watching others
participate). These passive leisure activities are generally not ‘‘organized’’ but have important beneﬁts somewhat different
from active recreation.
These deﬁnitions may be evident, but in discussing a topic like sports and physical activity interventions, the nuances
may be important. In this paper I use sports to generally refer to ‘‘sports for all’’ and leisure-time physical activity to mean
‘‘physical activity by choice’’ such as would likely occur in sports participation.
1.1. Physical activity and health
Most people are aware of the staggering issues surrounding cardiovascular health, overweight and obesity issues,
and physical inactivity. For example, sedentary living and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in North America
and other parts of the world. Research shows that only about a quarter of the U.S. population engages in the
recommended amount of physical activity (i.e., 30 + min of moderate physical activity ﬁve or more days per week, or
vigorous physical activity for 20 + min three or more days per week; Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2005) and
another quarter of the population is almost totally inactive. Similar results are found in Australia with only 29% of
Australians playing sport or exercising twice a week or more and 60% not active enough for optimal health (Sports
Medicine Australia, 2007). Statistics are better in New Zealand with 68% active in their leisure time, but almost a third of
the population was deﬁned as inactive (SPARCS, 2007). Links have been established between low levels of physical
activity and obesity and related diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer (U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Physical activity has been clearly shown to be a modiﬁable risk factor
that can improve people’s health.
Further, the rates of physical activity in the U.S. (Brownson, Boehmer, & Luke, 2004) as well as Australia (Sports
Medicine Australia, 2007) are declining. The decline has occurred most in work-activity, transportation, activity in the
home, and in overall daily living. However, according to Brownson et al. the amount of LTPA in the U.S. is remaining
stable and is slightly increasing, although it has been low for some time. In addition, concerns among particular
populations are also important. For example, only a third of persons aged 65 years and older participate in any type of
sustained physical activity (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2005). In 2001, 24% of male (9–12th grade)
students and 38% of female students in the U.S. were classiﬁed as inactive (Brownson et al.). The rise in childhood
obesity and the lack of physical activity are highly correlated. More statistics could be presented, but the point is that
physical inactivity is a health risk and any way that people can be encouraged to be more physically active through
sports, recreation, and leisure is important.
K.A. Henderson / Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–65 59
4. 1.2. Sports and physical activity
Some research has been undertaken to examine physical activity trends by leisure-time domains (e.g., sports). The U.S.
Surgeon General’s Report (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,1996) indicated that the results of the National
Health Interview Survey showed that the most common LTPA was walking followed by gardening and yard work, stretching
exercises, bicycling, strengthening exercises, stair climbing, jogging or running, aerobics or aerobic dancing, and swimming.
Noticeably missing from this top ranked list are most sports. For all ages (18-75 + years) and sexes, the percentages of people
participating in sports in the U.S. were: tennis = 3%, bowling = 4%, golf = 5%, baseball or softball = 4%, other racquet
sports = 2%, basketball = 6%, volleyball = 3%, soccer = 1%, football = 2%, and all other sports = 6%. [Note: These percentages
should not be summed as a total since multiple responses are likely reﬂected.] Further, the research showed that
participation in vigorous or contact sports generally declines with age.
Although the deﬁnition emphasizes physical exertion, sports are not always a means for accumulating the recommended
amounts of physical activity each day. However, because low percentages of people participate in sports activities does not
mean that these activities do not lead to enhanced health. Little is known about exactly how sports organizations might
contribute to facilitating the recommended daily amounts. In 2008, Priest, Armstrong, Doyle, and Waters conducted a
comprehensive review to determine the effective interventions that sporting organizations can use to increase people’s sport
and physical activity participation. Despite an examination of hundreds of possible sources, Priest et al. found no rigorous
studies that evaluated the effects of interventions organized by sport organizations to increase participation in sport leading
to greater physical activity. In this review, the authors also deﬁned participation as an active player as well as through
‘‘inactive’’ involvement such as coach, instructor, teacher, administrator, manager, or volunteer. This review did not show
that sports organizations have no contribution to physical activity participation, but indicated that the evidence does not
exist. Qualitative data regarding the value of sports organizations can be found, but rigorous quantitative studies to measure
these outcomes were not uncovered in Priest et al.’s extensive review.
Other ways of analyzing the relationships between sports and physical activity have shown mixed results. For example,
Kaczynski and Henderson (2007) reviewed the literature regarding public parks/recreation settings and physical activity.
Settings examined included sports facilities, recreation centers, and golf courses. For sports facilities, two studies showed no
association and one showed mixed associations related to how much physical activity occurred. For recreation centers, four
studies revealed positive relationships and three indicated no associations between participation and increased physical
activity. Golf opportunities all showed positive relationships to physical activity. Although the results were mixed, the
relationship between community parks and recreation settings focused on sports and increased physical activity among
participants generally has been positive.
Sports participation and physical education in schools has also been examined. Because of the declining trend in required
physical education classes in many U.S. schools, for example, many young people are more inactive than in the past.
Interscholastic and intramural sports are assumed to offer sport-based physical activity opportunities for children. However,
Johnston, Delva, & O’Malley (2007) found only 33% of girls and 37% of boys participated in varsity sports in the 500 US schools
they surveyed. Participation rates in intramural sports (i.e., 19% boys and 16% girls) were even lower. At most, only slightly
more than half of the young people in schools participated in any type of organized school sport activity. Although varsity
sport participation did not decline in higher grades, intramural participation did decline as students got older. Further,
participation in school sports of any kind was lower among low SES and Hispanic students than among middle-income and
non-Hispanic students. Some of this difference in participation regarding SES and ethnicity seemed to relate to school
environments because in some schools, sports opportunities were simply not available.
Sports are also wide ranging in their potential for physical activity. The Compendium of Physical Activities (Ainsworth,
Haskell, & Leon, 1993) lists the metabolic equivalent rates for various physical activities. All activities are assigned an
intensity based on their energy expenditure rate expressed as the ratio of work metabolic rate to resting metabolic rate
(METs). Ratings under 3 are considered sedentary, 3-6 are moderately active, and over 6 is vigorous. Examples of some of
these sports ratings are:
Archery (non-hunting) 3.5 METs
Basketball (game) 8.0
Ultimate Frisbee 3.5
Golf (general) 4.5
Hockey (ﬁeld or ice) 8.0
Paddleball (Competitive) 10.0
Volleyball (Competitive) 4.0
Volleyball (General) 3.0
Thus, in analyzing the relationships between sports and physical activity, the type, duration, and intensity of sport
participation clearly affects the possibilities of sports contributing to increased physical activity.
Floyd, Spengler, Maddock, Gobster, & Suau (2008) further illustrated this variability of sports in their observations of
activity METS in parks. They found sedentary behavior in parks was more often observed on baseball/softball ﬁelds in
addition to dog park areas (i.e., dogs were active but not their humans!), picnic shelters, and open-space areas. Higher levels
K.A. Henderson / Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–6560
5. of physical activity were found as would be expected at soccer ﬁelds, basketball, tennis/racquetball, and volleyball areas in
parks. Floyd et al. recommended that interventions in program areas such as sports venues in parks are needed to increase
the amount of physical activity that is possible. Not all parks are designed to promote active sports, but more can be done to
encourage physical activity. In addition, a growing body of evidence now exists about possible physical activity interventions
based on health models aimed to get people more active.
1.3. Models for getting people more physically active
Theories and models have been proposed over the past quarter century to examine health promotion and how to get
people to participate in healthy behaviors such as smoking cessation and physical activity. These models have not
necessarily addressed sports participation but they have implications regarding the contributions that sports can make to
increasing physical activity participation. Most models relate to individual behavior and focus on cognition, which assumes
that the individual evaluates the beneﬁts and costs associated with healthy actions (Browning & Thomas, 2005). Browning
and Thomas described the models that have been tested most widely in health promotion literature: Health Belief Model
(HBM), Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), Self-Efﬁcacy, and the Transtheoretical Model (TTM). Beaton and Funk (2008) used
ﬁve criteria (i.e., congruency with conventional wisdom, functional meaning across paradigms, holistic accountability,
process-focused used including inputs and outputs, and rigorous testing and evaluation) to describe useful models to
examine active leisure and recreation. They chose HBM, TPB, and TTM because they are ubiquitous in health research in
addition to Schema Theory, Sport Commitment Model, and Psychological Continuum Model as applicable models to analyze.
Besides these cognitive behavioral models (Tsai, 2005), ecological perspectives have incorporated personal, psychological,
and environmental factors that inﬂuence participation in physical activity (Henderson & Bialeschki, 2005). The common
models that may provide a theoretical foundation for understanding more about sports, sport management, and physical
activity interventions discussed brieﬂy as examples in this paper include: HBM, TPB, Social Cognition and Self-efﬁcacy, TTM
(i.e., stage changes), Social Support, Enjoyment, and Social Ecology.
The Health Belief Model proposes that people participate in physical activity or any healthy behavior because they want
to avoid illness. An individual considers his or her perceived susceptibility, severity of the illness, beneﬁts of being healthy,
barriers to the behavior, cues to action, and self-efﬁcacy (Glanz & Rimer, 1995). Decisions are then made relative to how
important disease avoidance is to an individual and what physical activity, exercise, or sport behavior is needed to mitigate
the potential problems. HBM may be linked to prescription (e.g., doctor’s orders) more than to choice, although individuals
can determine whether and how they choose to be physically active through sports.
The Theory of Planned Behavior is a widely applied cognitive model. The theory was developed by Ajzen (1991) by building
on some of his earlier work. One assumption of this model is that people need to feel they have control over their behavior,
which includes control over opportunities, resources, and skills. An individual has behavioral, normative, and control beliefs
about a behavior such as physical activity (Beaton & Funk, 2008). These complex beliefs are determinants of intentions to
change a behavior (Seefeldt, Malina, & Clark, 2002) such as in using sports opportunities to become more physically active.
Social Cognitive Models suggest that individual behavior is affected by the environment, personal attributes, and the
behavior itself. It may include elements related to outcome expectations, observational learning, and reinforcement (Glanz &
Rimer, 1995). The self-efﬁcacy model (Bandura, 1994) is a commonly applied social cognitive theory. Self-efﬁcacy is behavior
speciﬁc and suggests that the conﬁdence one has in his/her ability and skills will inﬂuence whether or not involvement in
any activity occurs or continues. Dishman, Motl, & Saunders (2004), for example, found that self-efﬁcacy resulted in
increased physical activity among school-aged students, and one way to get girls more active was by developing the self-
efﬁcacy through practical skill development and monitoring, which included the use of sports skills. Other cognitive models
that have implications for sport and physical activity interventions include the sport commitment model (Scanlan,
Carpenter, Simons, Schmidt, & Keeler, 1993) as well as self-determination theory (Hagger & Chatzisarantis, 2007).
The Transtheoretical Model (Prochaska & Velieer, 1997) is an extension of the theories of change model developed by
Prochaska and DiClemente (1983). Four central tenets comprise the transtheoretical model of behavior change: people move
through stages to change, processes for change are identiﬁed, decisional balance must be reached (i.e., regarding beneﬁts and
costs), and self-efﬁcacy and conﬁdence are acquired. The ﬁve stages in the model include: pre-contemplation (i.e., not
planning to participate), contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance or termination. Identifying the stage an
individual is in relates directly to motivational readiness. People, however, move back and forth between the stages over
time as people drop in and out of physical activities including sports. Further, change is difﬁcult because physical activity
behavior is complex, determining stage is difﬁcult, change and participation in physical activity is inﬂuenced by numerous
outside issues, and stage progression does not necessarily lead to behavior change (Adams & White, 2005).
The Social Support Model emphasizes that the support of important others (e.g., family, friends, neighbors, co-workers,
leaders of sport programs) are important in whether an individual adapts and adheres to physical activity. The support may
be informational, emotional, structural, or evaluative (Seefeldt et al., 2000). To encourage and sustain any type of physical or
sport activity, the source and the intent of social support must be considered.
Another model that is congruent with conventional wisdom that emerged from a leisure perspective is the Enjoyment
Model (Henderson & Ainsworth, 2002), although it has not been rigorously tested. None of the health models directly
consider the connections between enjoyment, leisure, and physical activity. The model illustrates how enjoyment is a critical
factor in mitigating constraints and emphasizing intrinsic beneﬁts of physical activity participation. The opportunity to
K.A. Henderson / Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–65 61
6. choose enjoyable activities that also enhance one’s physical and mental health is important (Coleman & Iso-Ahola, 1995; Iso-
Ahola, 1994; Wankel, 1993). If involvement in physical activity leads to better health, one enjoys life more and lives longer. If
one enjoys an activity, he or she is more likely to continue participation. Enjoyment may also be considered an element
within other models. For example, enjoyment is often related to self-efﬁcacy and how people feel about their abilities during
participation. Similarly, social cognitive and social support theories relate to the interpersonal ways that physical activity
and enjoyment might be reinforced by positive and fun relationships with family and friends.
The ﬁnal model discussed in this paper that moves beyond individual motivation is the Social Ecological Model that has
guided much of the recentworkrelatedtoactive living. Thismodel may emergeas a useful way tolook at sportsparticipationon
a variety of levels. Social ecology has been used as a context for examining the possibilities for physical activity for individuals
within their social and physical environments (Sallis, Bauman, & Pratt, 1998). Stokols (1992) suggested that the healthfulness of
a situation and well-being of participants are inﬂuenced by multiple facets of their environments. According to McLeroy,
Bibeau, Steckler, & Glanz (1988) as well as Sallis et al., the elements that facilitate or discourage healthy behaviors such as
physical activity participation through exercise, sport, or daily living include: intrapersonal, interpersonal or social, physical
environments such as organizational and community resources, and policies. The ecological environment consists of
constraints (i.e., barriers) to as well as enablers (i.e., determinants, correlates, affordances) for any type of physical activity.
These models have been the foundation for research on physical activity interventions, although most theories have been
applied to adults and not to young people. Explaining participation in all types of activities by these theories has met with
mixed results (Seefeldt et al., 2002). However, the models may have foundations to offer in considering further how sports
can be a contributor to healthier living and how sports organizations might better develop programs and market sports that
can promote physical activity for greater numbers of people. Several models have been empirically tested related to physical
1.4. Physical activity interventions
Research clearly links health and physical activity. The consuming question is how can interventions, programs, activities,
facilities, built environments, and particular activities (e.g., sports) be designed to promote physical activity based on what is
known about individuals and environments. The evidence has been slow to develop (Lin & Fawkes, 2005; Priest, Armstrong,
Doyle, & Waters, 2008). Education and social marketing are the sin qua non of interventions, but how these strategies work
within sports organizations and in communities is a big question. In this section, some research is examined to give a sense of
physical activity intervention possibilities. However, few of these studies examined aspects of sports.
Review papers have been written regarding various aspects of physical activity. For example, initial reviews by Sallis
et al. (1998) and King, Jeffery, Fridinger, & Dusenbury (1995) conﬁrmed that little was known about environmental or
policy interventions inﬂuencing physical activity. Recent reviews (e.g., Humpel, Owen, & Leslie, 2002; Kaczynski &
Henderson, 2007; Owen, Humpel, Leslie, Bauman, & Sallis, 2004; Saelens, Sallis, & Frank, 2003) have found more consistent
positive associations between physical activity and factors in the built environment such as access to facilities, safety,
aesthetics, and particular amenities. However, few studies have examined experimental trials to determine which speciﬁc
interventions or evidence-based practices are best (Morris & Choi, 2005). As described earlier in the paper, Priest et al.’s
(2008) review found controlled evaluation studies regarding how sports organizations contributed to increasing sport
participation as non-existent.
Evidence-based practice is the foundation for exploring health concerns in the 21st century and may offer opportunities
in exploring how sports can encourage greater physical activity. Evidence-based practice is needed to know whether
interventions work, to determine cost-effectiveness, to appraise the strengths of particular programs, and to determine
limitations and gaps in available evidence (Lin & Fawkes, 2005). Research and evaluation are needed to determine what
interventions and strategies facilitate people becoming and remaining physically active, but this research applied
speciﬁcally to physical activity, exercise, and sports in communities is only beginning.
Morris and Choi (2005) reviewed community and lifestyle/active living interventions. One of the concerns they raised
about intervention studies were whether or not a true control condition was used, a comparative condition, or none at all.
Often times a control or comparative condition is not possible to use in determining whether or not physical activity
behavior changed because of a particular intervention. Morris and Choi also noted that in applying theories (i.e., planned
behavior, transtheoretical, social cognition), a variety of strategies might be used such as advice, assessment, written
material, exercise vouchers, support person, group activities, telephone contact, competition, and website access to name
only a few. They found no one type of intervention was more or less useful in getting people to be more active. All behaviors
are complex due to internal and external factors (i.e. social ecology). Some interventions work better for some people than
for others, which suggested that many strategies as well as opportunities are needed.
Some physical activity interventions have targeted particular groups like youth, older adults, racial and ethnic minorities,
and people with disabilities. For example, generally researchers have found that older adults do not wish to be physically
active in formal groups (King, Rejeski, & Buchner, 1998). However, some research has been conducted related to older adults
and competitive sport. Lyons and Dionigi (2007) explained the value of competitive sports because of the community it
builds and the resistance to aging. King et al. concluded that physical activity participation in older age was a lifelong process
inﬂuenced by earlier life experiences and stages of development. Little is known, however, about physical activity
interventions that might be effective with low-income older adults and the oldest old people.
K.A. Henderson / Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–6562
7. Youth have been a particular interest for physical activity interventions due to the rising childhood obesity problem.
Sports are attractive to many young people because they afford opportunities to be active and have fun. Youth sports as a
means for being physically active also provide developmental (e.g., social, psychological, physical) beneﬁts. Seefeldt et al.
(2002) noted that if physical activity becomes habitual in children, it will carry over to later life. Further, the contribution of
youth sports to physical activity in adulthood may be attributed to the socialization process that occurs when adolescents
persist in sports. Seefeldt et al. concluded:
The promotion of sports and physical activity during childhood and adolescence is justiﬁed on the basis of direct beneﬁts
to physical ﬁtness, psychological development and social conﬁdence. However, the carry-over of beneﬁts accrued at earlier
ages depends on continued renewal throughout the lifespan. (p. 152).
Recommendations have been made for physical activity interventions for children (e.g., Ward, Saunders, & Pate, 2007)
that can include focusing on speciﬁc sports for particular developmental beneﬁts.
Some interventions have been instituted especially to encourage more participation in youth sports. For example, Hill and
Green (2008) used manning theory (i.e., policies regarding how many people can be on a team) to explore whether increased
opportunities for participation, skill acquisition, satisfaction, and enjoyment were found if youth teams had a no substitute
rule (i.e., no one sits on the bench). Youth were more active if they all got to play and perhaps especially more so if the team
was short-handed. Lubans and Morgan (2008) used social cognitive theory to examine how an extra-curricular school sport
program could promote lifestyle and lifetime activity for adolescents. They used an intervention and control group with
pedometers to measure activity and found that behavior modiﬁcations and monitoring were successful in getting
adolescents to be more active in a variety of sport and ﬁtness activities.
People with disabilities also have not been studied to a great extent related to physical activity and recreational sports
interventions. People with disabilities engage in far less moderate or vigorous activity than people without disabilities (U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). Researchers have shown that the value of physical activity and sports
participation for many people with disabilities is that it prevents secondary illnesses as well as provides a normalizing
opportunity for participants (Anderson, Wozencroft, & Bedini, 2008; Fernhall, Heffernan, Jae, & Hedrick, 2008; Henderson &
Bedini, 1995). Although limited, researchers have examined the value of participation for people with disabilities in elite
sports such as the Paralympics (Vanlandewijck, 2006).
A major concern of Healthy People 2010 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000) is the health disparities
that exist in the U.S. Racial/ethnic minority groups and low-income populations are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to
meet the guidelines for physical activity (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 2005). The pervasive reasons for less
activity among minority groups generally includes low socioeconomic status, lack of suitable activity programs, concerns for
safety, and the importance attached to physical activity by the cultural or ethnic group (Seefeldt et al., 2002). More research
has been undertaken in recent years, but additional work is necessary to understand environments for physical activity (e.g.,
correlates, ‘‘friendly and unfriendly’’ places, discrimination) related to promoting physical activity through possible
interventions (Taylor, Floyd, Whitt-Glover, & Brooks, 2007) like sports.
Many types of physical activity participation (e.g., sports, exercise, walking) are possible, and particular interventions also
may work better with some activities than others. Morris and Choi (2005) as well as Seefeldt et al. (2002) concluded that
successful physical activity interventions tailored programs to individual needs, accounted for ﬁtness levels, allowed for
control over the activity, and provided social support from family, friends, and peers. The initiation and maintenance of
regular physical activity whether exercise, walking, outdoor activities, or sports especially in adults, also depends on
biological and sociocultural factors across the lifespan.
The Task Force on Community Prevention Services (2002) identiﬁed three major strategies for physical activity
intervention in communities: informational, behavioral and social approaches, and environmental and policy interventions.
Based on this research, for example, intentional community-wide campaigns focused on physical activity opportunities
(including sports opportunities) were strongly recommended along with social approaches like school based PE and extra-
curricular opportunities as well as social support linkages in communities and individual-adapted health behavior change
programs. After-school programs especially may be an important way intentionally to promote physical activity and sports
because they do not interfere with academic performance (Story, Kaphingst, & French, 2006). Lubans and Morgan (2005)
recommended that innovative extra-curricular school sport participation should incorporate inclusive, engaging and
theoretically driven approaches to promote physical activity (i.e., regardless of athletic ability) through skill development
and monitoring, self-efﬁcacy development using goal setting and self- management, opportunities for practice, modeling,
and social (e.g., parent and peer) support. Mowen, Kaczynski, & Cohen (2008) further recommended that park features and
park programming (i.e., a focus on getting people more active through sports) are needed if parks are to be used to their
fullest and if physical activity is to increase in communities. Related to intentional opportunities for physical activity and
sports participation is the examination of environmental and policy issues. Strong evidence exists for the creation of
enhanced access to places for physical activity and sport combined with informational outreach.
Sallis et al. (2006) concluded that multilevel interventions based on ecological models that target individuals, social
environments, physical environments, and policies must be addressed to promote physical activity. However, sports are only
one element, and often not a visible element, addressed in these interventions. Ironically, few researchers have examined
sports as a means for promoting physical activity, even in an arena like youth sports. Yet, many groups in communities have
the capacity to promote sports through parks and recreation, school intramurals, not-for-proﬁt community organizations
(e.g., YMCA’s, Big Brothers and Big Sisters) and private sports organizations (e.g., soccer leagues, swim clubs). The challenge,
K.A. Henderson / Sport Management Review 12 (2009) 57–65 63
8. according to Lin and Fawkes (2005), is to show how any kind of activity program including successful sports programs can
lead to measurable changes in physical activity and ultimately health outcomes.
2. Conclusions about physical activity and sport management
Promoting physical activity is vital. Sports are ubiquitous in society and are signiﬁcant for many reasons. Therefore,
identifying additional ways to more fully connect health and sports is essential. The challenge for the future is to increase
physical activity levels to glean health beneﬁts and sustain them over a period of time (Morris & Choi, 2005). Sports offer
opportunities to get people more active. People choose sports because they are fun. Therefore, sports participation offers an
enjoyable way to potentially become more active and maintain activity. Not all sport managers have the mandate or capacity
to encourage sports participation, but these opportunities exist for other managers concerned with recreational sports.
Further, the sports management literature has been heavily weighed toward sport as entertainment and toward issues of
organizational management. Perhaps a greater balance might be sought in the future toward research that also addresses
participation. The normative theory of sport development described by Green (2005) with mass participation as the base of a
pyramid leading to high performance sports at the top offers a way for sport management researchers to consider how their
efforts might be expanded. Because many interventions designed to improve physical activity habits primarily have focused
on exercise programs (Dishman & Buckworth, 1996), Kilpatrick, Hebert, & Bartholomew, 2005) advocated that a logical next
step in developing and implementing physical activity interventions should include recreational sports activities. The
motivators for sports participation are likely quite different than the motivators to exercise for most people. Kilpatrick et al.
concluded that ‘‘it is likely that recreational forms of physical activity are enjoyable in and of themselves and, as a result, are
linked more closely to desirable motivational strategies’’ (p. 94).
A unique asset that sports have is that they are opportunities for enjoyment. Enjoyment, however, is also built on the
knowledge, skills, attitudes, and aspirations individuals hold regarding active sport participation (Henderson & Ainsworth,
2002). Sports offer the opportunity for physical activity by choice (Henderson & Bialeschki, 2005). Much more is yet to be
learned about how to manage sports as a means for promoting active lifestyles for both children and adults.
The relationship between sport management and physical activity promotion need not be a paradox. Sport management
encompasses a broad focus that should include Sport and sports. Entertainment and participation are both important.
Although the literature about sport management has not focused predominantly on physical activity, the possibilities in this
area exist for future research and practice. The high performance and competitive aspects of sport hold an important place in
society, but additional emphasis on sports for all offers a further opportunity to promote both physical and mental health.
The enjoyable dimensions of sports and the possibilities sports have as an intervention to contribute to healthy living for
individuals in communities are key elements for sports managers as well as sports management researchers to consider in
the 21st century.
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