Physically active people may be enticed to become more active or to try a new sport, said Mike Weed, a professor of sport in society at Canterbury University. Those who were formerly active may be encouraged by the Olympics to renew their participation, he said. This is known as the demonstration effect.
But what this phenomenon does not do, Dr. Weed said in a telephone interview and in a recent paper, “is have any effect whatsoever on those who have never participated in sport.”
The average person may feel a disconnect from elite athletes, he said, while the most sedentary might be put off by perceived pressure to lose weight and become more active. This seemed to be borne out in recent interviews conducted with weekend warriors in Manchester.
“The Olympics are up here and we’re down here,” said Asha Solanki, 30, who works in marketing and participates in martial arts. “It seems unachievable. How many people do you know who do the 400-meter hurdles?”
Among the missions of the International Olympic Committee is "sport for all". There is funding, a commission, and an annual conference, in which the FGG participated for the first time last year. Buit are the Olympics the best way to promote sport for all? From our point of view, the Gay Games movement has been much more successful at encouraging participation in sport:
- by offering those reluctant to participate in mainstream sport due to homophobia a safe place to play and compete
- by sending a message, in particular to gay men, that gays can be athletes
- by creating inclusive events that allow athletes of all levels to compete together
If a country wants to promote increased participation in sport, how about hosting the Gay Games?