Hallam research finds strong social return on investment in sports study

By Fraser Newell-Rise

A study conducted by Sheffield Hallam University looking into the social value of sport has revealed that almost twice the amount is generated from public and private investments.

The innovative study collated largely by researcher Larissa Davies, suggested that nearly £44 billion is created from £23.46 billion in investments.

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The report was commissioned by the Higher Education fund and Sport England, with further backing from various private investments.

Perhaps the greatest revelation, which in principle will not come as a surprise, was the magnitude of the reduced health risks that comes from sports participation and the money that is saved.

The reduced health risks that the research highlighted are also some of the most devastating diseases. The study suggested that the reduced risk to a combination of dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer amounted to over £3.5 billion.

The information used to publish the report was all available in the public domain and provided by governmental departments to evaluate sport’s impact on not only improving six different health outcomes but also reducing criminal incidences, improving educational attainment and the return from higher education, volunteering, and improving subjective wellbeing.

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In terms of the results on different sexes, the study suggested that exercise at a moderate intensity could reduce the threat of breast cancer to women by up to 30% and the reduced risk of a stroke for men could be up to 30% with the same intensity of exercise.

In order to estimate the SROI (social return on investment), certain assumptions had to be made – sports participation was classified as participating for at least 30 minutes once a week.

Despite the overwhelming evidence for the benefits of sport on society, lead researcher Larissa Davies is still wary of the need for further expertise from other sectors to improve the focus of the research.

She said: “I think what’s out there is based on strong, credible and robust evidence but it’s not perhaps inclusive of everything that could be included.”

A further explanation and details of Larissa’s findings can be found in the video interview below:

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