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Growth in extreme activities as younger people move away from ‘structured’ sport

Growth in extreme activities as younger people move away from ‘structured’ sport
June 4, 2013

The growing trend of younger people moving away from the structured sporting environments of older generations, and engaging in extreme sport and recreation activities was a key topic when the Australian Parachute Federation (APF) conducted its recent 2013 National Technical Conference on the Gold Coast.

A key address from Queensland Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing Senior Advisor (Recreation Planner) Neal Ames considered the use of different active space, including green space in national parks, state forests, local government land and private property, including the explosion of private events such as adventure racing and mountain bike events.

Ames also discussed how Governments at all levels engage with these new participation trend, the management of this change and how current structures are set up to accommodate this change.

Using work done by Mark McCrindle of McCrindle Research, who specialises in inter-generational research, to highlight the motivations of different generations in their choosing to participate and what activity they choose to participate in, Ames referred to:

"The new generations have grown up in a fast moving, ever-changing society. Consequently they place more value on speed than accuracy";

"The age of reason, debate and evidence has been replaced with one of perspective, perception, and experience"; and

"They think in hyperlinks, they multi-task, value speed over accuracy and they absorb information from multiple sources."

Ames then introduced the concept that sport and recreation should be viewed as a 'social engineering' process, highlighting McCrindle's research to demonstrate that the structured nature of sport (fields, boundaries, rules, officials) do not necessarily appeal as much to the younger generations than they did to the older.

Ames then presented a concept developed by Steve Jobs called the 'Golden Cycle', and used it to explain that people are motivated by the 'why' instead of the ' what' of an activity. These concepts, when put together, might explain why some of the younger generations are choosing to disengage with structured sport and focus on one-off event based activities.

A rough survey of the audience indicated that approximately 80% of participants in parachuting do so on a one-off or short term basis.

This fitted in with Ames' assertions and with McCrindle's observations.

Ames then asked "if people are being attracted to non-structured activities, that don't work within a club environment, how does government, (at) all three levels, engage with them?

"And (do) governments needs to engage with them at all - maybe the private sector is better placed to provide this service?"

Ames' thoughtprovoking presentation had the audience engaged and thinking about what motivates their participants and what steps they need to take to further enhance their increasing participation levels.

With the theme 'Leading from the top', the APF conference provided an unique opportunity for delegates to network, exchange information and learn about leading edge skydiving practices, the Conference theme was Leading from the top.

The conference also focussed on safety, operational and training matters, and the role industry leaders can play in identifying, creating and maximising opportunities while minimising risk in both sporting and commercial fields to ensure positive outcomes for the Federation.

Images: Courtesy of Coffs Skydivers (top) and mountain biking in Queensland's Atherton Forest, courtesy of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services (below).

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