Lifestyle sports delivery and sustainability: clubs, communities and user-managers
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Authors: King, K. and Church, A.
Journal: International Journal of Sport Policy
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Lifestyle and informal sports have been recognised by policy makers as offering opportunities to increase participation in physical activity, particularly amongst hard to reach groups. Lifestyle sports are, however, double edged in their potential to achieve these goals. Their playful and non-traditional features may attract new participants less interested in traditional sports but the very liquidity of these activities may mean that the engagement of participants is fragmented and not sustained beyond a particular period in their lives. This article presents the perspective of mountain biking user-managers; those involved in the delivery, clubs and communities of mountain bikers across the United Kingdom. Findings suggest that whilst lifestyle sport communities are dependent on the work of formalised clubs to gain access to the funding and resources they need to sustain their activities, core participants will not always want to have to liaise or become involved formally within a club structure. In addition, clubs will not succeed in delivering sustained activities in line with sport policy to increase and maintain participation by relying on individual grants and without the support of an active informal user community. Accounts highlight the importance of engaging informal user communities with a sense of ownership such as locals to ensure new participants are integrated and the community is able to replenish.