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Outside competition – A study of alternative club activities with a focus on democratic fostering

Research project The competitive element of club sport has been identified as one of the primary problems in attracting children and youth to sport activities, let alone keeping them active with increasing age. Can other forms of activities than those usually associated with traditional club sport, in which the significance of competing and ranking is downplayed, attract previously inactive groups and those who for various reasons have dropped out?

The purpose of the project is to study club activities in which the competitive element of club sport is downplayed. The project answers the four research questions: 1) What types of club organized activities can be characterized as ‘alternative’ in the sense that they are not competitive? 2) What groups of children and youth are attracted by such activities? 3) What roles do leaders in these activities have to realize sport-for-all ambitions? 4) What are the short-term effects for participants, leaders and clubs?

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2010-01-01 2011-12-31


Centrum för idrottsforskning

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Education, Umeå School of Sport Sciences

Research area


Project description

Departing from the latest evaluation of the government subsidies to sport, there are many reasons to consider how club sport activities are designed in a sport-for-all perspective. The evaluations emphasizes that Swedish club sport to large extent fulfils its mission but that there are enough exemptions from that rule to explicate the commission in order to reach stated sport-for-all ambitions. This call has been heeded by many clubs that already try to reach more children and youth with a more varied supply of and other types of activities than those usually associated with conventional club sport, in which the significance of competition and ranking is downplayed. Knowledge about such so-called alternative sport activities is relevant in several ways:

  1. Can club sport, to a sufficient extent, change the character of its activities so that they can be characterized as being primarily focused on the social aspects of sport?
  2. Are these types of activities a viable way in activating previously inactive groups and those who for various reasons have dropped out?
  3. Is club sport in its existing organization and with its existing competence equipped to offer the activities needed to reach the intended groups?

The new knowledge the project develops is important in the overall development of club sport, especially in a sport-for-all perspective.