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In this topic, you will develop knowledge and understanding of the socio-cultural factors that impact on physical activity and sport, and the impact of sport on society, through the following content. The topic guide will be linked here.

Factors Affecting Participation

Factors Affecting Participation

Different personal factors affect participation rates. These factors include

age, gender, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic background.

Most factors entail barriers, which are important to understand and break.


When young people participate in physical activity or/ and sport, they are more likely to continue, as they grow. This is why PE lessons are very important and compulsory. This helps children broaden their opportunity to take part in a larger variety of sports and physical activity. However participation from young people generally drops at the age of 13.

Along with age, physical changes occur which may affect participation rates. A change in appearance during puberty or menopause may lead to a lack of confidence (eg. weight gain).


There is a gap between males and females in participation rates. Reasons for this may differ:

Few female role models and coaches 

As female sporting talent generally has a lower status, women and girls may acknowledge this and get demotivated. This is due to a lack of media exposure.

Because of a lack of female coaches, female performers may feel awkward with male coach.

Lack of self confidence and motivation

Girls and women may feel embarrassed when participationg in physical activity/sport due to the way they look.

Females facing stereotypes (like women can't play sports) may lead to a lack of motivation.

Dislike of PE 

Mixed games may lead to females having a dislike towards male playing violently and not treating female teammates equally. 

Some may believe that the choices of activities are limited and do not cater to certain groups. 


UK Sport estimated that only 10.3% of their funded elite athletes were from BME communities.

The following aspects influence participation rates amongst BME communities. The following affects participation:





Facilities may not be adapted. Without these facilities, participation would be hard, if not impossible.


Travelling may be difficult, if a club is too far away it may demotivate the performer.


Emotional reasons, lack of confidence may stop the performer from participating and because of the effect of other’s opinions.

Socio-economic Status

The socio-economic status of an individual can affect participation rates in the following ways:

  • If a person is employed, income may allow the finance for the sport or physical activity. On the other hand, if a person is in full-time employment, they may not have enough time to participate in sport/physical activity.

  • If a sport/physical activity is too expensive, participation may not be possible. For example, lacrosse is a sport typically played by the upper class, who can afford it.

  • If parents or carers can afford to pay for their child to participate, they are more likely to continue as they grow. However, if parents or carers cannot, it may be harder for their children to take part. This is because of the costs of events, equipment and clothing.


Commercialisation of Sport and Physical Activity

The relationship between commercialisation, the media and sport is sometimes referred to as ‘the golden triangle’ because of the effect they have on each other:                     


Commercialisation is the sale of goods, services or events with intentions of making a profit.


Media provides entertainment, whether it's on TV, social media or other platforms.

'The Golden Triangle'

Physical activity and sport 

Participators need funding for:

  • Facilities

  • Equipment


  • Competitions.

If a sport/physical activity is commercialised, it will be able to receive funding for the things mentioned below. Organisations can use sport and media to get their product seen. This can be done via sponsorships, advertising or endorsements.

The media need funding to provide entertainment, the more viewers, the more likely they are to get funding from commercial organisations. However, media providers are in competition with each other to gain viewers.

If a sport or physical activity has more media exposure:

  • It may create an increase of awareness it

  • It can provide better opportunities for the spectator

Despite ‘the golden triangle’, there are still possible disadvantages within the relationship. Below are the advantages and disadvantages for:

The Sponsor

Media can show products in advertisements during breaks which can be seen around

If there is an increase in awareness of brands, sales will increase as well

Increase in media hype means an increase in viewers of the product



Media may not get a high number of viewers

The Sport/Physical Activity

Increased media coverage increases awareness and the profile of the sport

If there is an increase in awareness of a sport participation rates will increase as well as the funding

Increase in funding means that clubs can run events, develop performers and get better facilities

The Player/Performer

The player could be paid millions to endorse products

The player/performer can receive top-quality products to enhance performance

If a player becomes a bad role model, the company receives a negative image which reduces sales

Pressure to win to keep sponsorships may affect the performer, if they lose a sponsorship, they’d go through financial trouble

The Spectator

The spectator can get more coverage of top events (with highlights and replays)

Merchandise, PPV matches/events and TV sports channels may be expensive

The viewer can have a greater choice of what they watch with:

Red button choice and

Player cam

Fans can buy the same clothes and equipment as role models

Minority sports aren’t shown

Sponsors keep best seats in arenas for hospitality reasons

The company may not get the exposure they wanted

If a player becomes a bad role model, the company receives a negative image which reduces sales

To make the game more appealing: clothing, rules, fixture times and length of seasons may change

Less exposure means less awareness which could decrease chances of a sponsorship

Negative reporting could give the sport/physical activity a bad reputation

If the performer can get a sponsorship or an endorsement deal, they can train full time and not worry about having to work to pay for training

Timing may not suit the performer and required appearances means less training time

Ethical and Socio-cultural Issues in Sport and Physical Activity

Ethical and Socio-cultural Issues in Physical Activity and Sport

Sporting Behaviour

There are three main types of sporting behaviour you must know about:

For elite performers especially, it's incredibly important to show sportsmanship as they are role models and behaviour is seen by millions and copied. If deviance is shown, this will be repeated at lower levels, whilst believing it is the correct way of acting.

Additionally, if sports with larger profiles have participants being deviant, this may be reflected in the media as stories etc. (this is a disadvantage of 'the golden triangle')

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