Social impact of sport and physical activity

Sport has a dual nature as both play and as an instrument. As play, its purpose lies in itself. As an instrument, sport can serve all sorts of other purposes. This dual nature becomes most evident within a broader social perspective. Sport can be an end in itself or it can function as a means beyond itself, including social work, pedagogy and/or education. For example, it can have a preventive effect when young people with behavioural problems are encouraged to become active in sports. But it can also be used as intervention, either directly or indirectly. Sporting activities can form a significant prevention strategy within youth work, if properly adapted for the development of talent. In other words, promoting and participating in sport can be an end in itself or a means toward social participation. Clearly, for the research group, the emphasis lies on the latter purpose; the social aspect of sport.

To sum up, the question guiding the development of knowledge in this line of research, is:

  • How can sport and physical activity be deployed as an end in itself (participation in sports), and especially as a means beyond itself,

  • by social, pedagogical and/or educational professionals,

  • in cooperation with the people (citizens, clients) directly concerned,

  • in terms of activation, development, connection and/or prevention,

  • in such a way that it contributes to the promotion of social participation and social urban development in the Utrecht urban region,

  • aimed at improving the quality of living together in an urban environment?

For more information, please contact Froukje Smits: