Exploring the increasing interdependence of community sport and health policy in England

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Governments in many countries are increasingly interested in using community sport as a vehicle for improving public health through physical activity (PA) promotion. This has been associated with an increasing interdependence between the community sport and health policy sectors. However, there are no empirically grounded studies which have examined this directly and systematically in England. By examining Sport England’s Get Healthy, Get Active (GHGA) initiative, this paper presents novel evidence derived from interviews held with strategic policy-makers from Sport England and a professional football charity (Everton in the Community), and 67 men who engaged in one of the GHGA funded programmes, Active Blues. The findings reveal how the increasing interdependence between community sport and health policy has been characterised by tightly contested and congested relations of power at local and national levels. Although Sport England were the lead organisation which coordinated and was accountable for community sport, it was nevertheless highly dependent on organisations outside of the sector, including health organisations, to deliver their community sport goals. This was indicative of the relatively vulnerable and marginal position which Sport England, and sport policy, occupied in the policy landscape and the associated generalisation of interests from sport to public health. The policy spillover from more powerful policy sectors such as health, to comparatively less powerful ones like community sport, raises questions about the degree to which government can realistically expect to achieve their formal community sport and health policy goals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Early online date25 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2023


  • community sport
  • health policy

Research Centres

  • Sport and Mental Health Research Centre

Research Groups

  • Sport, Work and Health Research Group


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