Nearly half of Irish population participate in sport at least once a week

Irish Sports Monitor: rugby does not register in top 12 when it comes to sport participation

John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland, at the publication of the 2017 Irish Sports Monitor at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland, at the publication of the 2017 Irish Sports Monitor at the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Ireland has for years considered itself a sporting-mad nation, yet a surprise in the latest Irish Sports Monitor report is that rugby does not register in the top 12 when it comes to actual participation.

Personal exercise, essentially some sort of gym activity, remains the most popular with 12.4 per cent, with swimming (8.5 per cent), running (6.2 per cent), cycling (5.1 per cent) and soccer (4.1 per cent) the next most popular. Soccer has dropped from 4.8 per cent in the last report.

First published in 2007, with seven annual reports since, the main finding of the 2017 Irish Sports Monitor is that 43per cent of the Irish population (approximately 1.6 million people) participate in sport at least once a week, effectively the same as last recorded in 2015.

There has been an increase in the proportion that is highly active, with almost a third (32.6 per cent) now achieving the minimum level of activity set by the National Physical Activity Guidelines, while the proportion categorised as sedentary remains unchanged (13 per cent). Some 45.3 per cent of men and 40.8 per cent of women take part in sport/exercise, representing a decrease among men (from 47.2 per cent in 2015) and a slight increase among women (from 39.3 per cent in 2015), that gender gap also narrower than any point since Irish Sports Monitor was introduced in 2007.

The report, written by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Sport Ireland, measures adult participation in sport and physical activity, and compares it with information published for previous years.

The 10 most popular sports in Ireland in 2017 are the same as in 2015: with the exception of cycling (5.1 per cent) all other sports have a regular participation rate of below 5 per cent. The order of popularity of the top sports remains the same as in the previous study, with the exception of Gaelic football which is now the eighth most popular sporting activity in terms of participation, having previously been the ninth most popular.

Adult volunteering

Rugby does feature as the fourth most popular sport when it comes to adult volunteering: the report shows that 10.8 per cent of respondents volunteered in sport on a regular basis, with Gaelic football (3.4 per cent), soccer (2.2 per cent), hurling/camogie (2 per cent), rugby (0.6 per cent) and running (0.5 per cent) the most popular sports.

Just under a fifth of respondents attended a sporting event, with Gaelic football, soccer, hurling/camogie, rugby, swimming and running the most popular among spectators.

“While playing an important role in encouraging healthy lifestyles, sport is also vital for developing social capital and building community spirit,” said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin.

“The scale of the challenge ahead is evident when one considers that there is more than half the population who do not participate in sport regularly. My department will continue to work closely with Sport Ireland to ensure opportunities to participate in sport are afforded to all members of society.”

John Treacy, chief executive of Sport Ireland, added: “With the more recent change in the economic environment, the Irish Sports Monitor shows reduced participation among certain groups most likely to be affected by having less time in participate. Understanding the factors behind this is important in allowing us to focus our attentions on these groups.”

KEY FINDINGS

– the most popular sports to participate in are personal exercise (12.4%), swimming (8.5%), running (6.2%), cycling (5.1%) and soccer (4.1%).

– 45.3% of men and 40.8% of women take part in sport/exercise. This represents a decrease among men (from 47.2% in 2015) and a slight increase among women (from 39.3% in 2015).

– an increase in the proportions walking for recreation (from 63.6% to 66.2%), and the proportion walking for transport (from 45.6% to 46.6%).

– an increase in the proportion that is highly active, with almost a third (32.6%) now achieving the minimum level of activity set by the National Physical Activity Guidelines.

– almost 9 out of 10 (86%) feel that there are more opportunities now to participate in sport than there were 10 years ago.

– 28% currently use technology to measure the amount or nature of physical activity they undertake, with 43% having used it at some stage in the past.

Read the full report here: www.sportireland.ie/Research/Irish Sports Monitor 2017/Irish Sports Monitor 2017.pdf

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