The relationship of sport participation to provision of sports facilities and socioeconomic status: a geographical analysis

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Ecological models have been applied to investigate multiple domains influencing physical activity behaviour, including individual, social, organisational, community, environmental and policy factors. With regard to the built environment, research to date has been limited to small geographical areas and/or small samples of participants. This study examined the geographical association between provision of sport facilities and participation in sport across an entire Australian state, using objective total enumerations of both, for a group of sports, with adjustment for the effect of socioeconomic status (SES).


De-identified membership registration data were obtained from state sport governing bodies of four popular team sports. Associations between participation rate, facility provision rate and SES were investigated using correlation and regression methods.


Participation rate was positively associated with provision of facilities, although this was complicated by SES and region effects. The non-metropolitan region generally had higher participation rates and better provision of facilities than the metropolitan region.


Better provision of sports facilities is generally associated with increased sport participation, but SES and region are also contributing factors.

Implications for public health:

Community-level analysis of the population, sport participation and provision of facilities should be used to inform decisions of investments in sports facilities.

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