Sport Ireland Publish Irish Sports Monitor Data

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Over 40%  of the population participate in sport at least once a week. According to the 2017 Irish Sports Monitor, the gender gap is at its narrowest since the survey was introduced in 2007.

The most popular sports are personal exercise, swimming, running, cycling and soccer.

The report, written by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Sport Ireland, measures adult participation in sport and physical activity and compares it with information published for previous years.

The key finding of the 2017 ISM is that 43% of the Irish population – approximately 1.6 million people – participate in sport at least once a week.

Overall personal exercise is the most popular activity (12.4%) with swimming (8.5%), running (6.2%), cycling (5.1%) and soccer (4.1%) the next most popular.

The report shows that 10.8% of respondents volunteered in sport on a regular basis, with Gaelic football (3.4%), Soccer (2.2%), Hurling/Camogie (2%), Rugby (0.6%) and Running (0.5%) the most popular sports among volunteers. Just under a fifth of respondents attended a sporting event with Gaelic Football, Soccer, Hurling/Camogie, Rugby, Swimming and Running the most popular among spectators.

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy, added: “The Irish Sports Monitor shows that participation in sport has remained broadly consistent since the previous iteration in 2015. This is particularly interesting given economic conditions typically lead to lower levels of participation due to time constraints. With the more recent change in the economic environment, the Irish Sports Monitor shows reduced participation among certain groups most likely to be affected by having less time in participate. Understanding the factors behind this is important in allowing us to focus our attentions on these groups.”

The report finds that gender gap in sports participation (4.5%) is narrower now than at any point since the ISM was introduced in 2007 when it was 15.7%.

Mr Treacy continued: “Another welcome finding is that the gender gap in sports participation is narrower than any point since the Irish Sports Monitor was introduced a decade ago. Sport Ireland has invested in over €20 million through the Women in Sport Programme, which aims to increase women’s participation in sport, including non-participatory opportunities through volunteering and coaching. I would like to commend the National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships for playing an important role in getting more women active more often.”

Key Findings Include:

  • 43% of the population regularly take part in sport representing 1.6 million regular participants. This is the same level recorded in 2015.
  • Gender gap in sports participation (4.5%) is narrower now than at any point since the ISM was introduced in 2007 when it was 15.7%.
  • 45.3% of men and 40.8% of women take part in sport/exercise. This represents a decrease among men (from 47.2% in 2015) and a slight increase among women (from 39.3% in 2015).
  • The most popular sports to participate in are personal exercise (12.4%), swimming (8.5%), running (6.2%), cycling (5.1%) and soccer (4.1%).
  • There has been an increase in the proportions that are walking for recreation (from 63.6% to 66.2%), and the proportion walking for transport (from 45.6% to 46.6%).
  • There has been an increase in the proportion that is highly active, with almost a third (32.6%) now achieving the minimum level of activity set by the National Physical Activity Guidelines while the proportion categorised as sedentary remains unchanged (13%).
  • Almost 9 out of 10 (86%) feel that there are more opportunities now to participate in sport than there were 10 years ago.
  • 28% currently use technology to measure the amount or nature of physical activity they undertake, with 43% having used one at some stage in the past.