Promoting an active lifestyle: a multistakeholder exercise
By Jérôme Pero, Public Policy Director, Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry
The economic dimension of sport is often underestimated. The potential spill-over effects on the economy and society as a whole have so far not been fully taken into consideration by policy makers, especially at the local level. These are the findings of the PASS project led by Sport and Citizenship where FESI is an active partner.
In addition to the direct economic impact of sport and sport-innovation, sport plays a major role in fighting physical inactivity, resulting in major spill-over effects on the economy and society as a whole. Sport contributes to promote social integration, gender equality, conflict resolution and improves understanding and interaction among and across different cultures. Therefore, it is essential to continue dedicating political attention to this sector in order to enhance its contribution to sustainable economic growth and job creation, whilst fighting physical inactivity and obesity.
According to the EU Eurobarometer published in March 2014, almost 60% of Europeans “never” or “seldom” exercise or play sport. This trend has not improved over the last decade and is particularly acute in the younger generations. If physically inactive, our children are 30% more likely to become obese, under-achieving on school and academic results, increasing the costs of national healthcare, lowering productivity at work and increasing the risks of premature death and illnesses such as physical and mental illness. Inactivity exacts high financial costs in Europe. According to a study prepared by ISCA one of the PASS partners, physical inactivity costs the European Economy €80 billion per year. This has to change!
“Changing minds and practices”
For all these reasons, FESI and its members are taking part in valuable initiatives such as the PASS project. The projects’ objective falls in line with our vision of raising awareness of policy makers about these trends and build guidance that will a) Create early positive experiences for children in sport and physical activity and b) Prioritise physical activity in the daily environment.
In order to address these challenges FESI – in the framework of the PASS project – has organised a well-attended and insightful workshop at the last ISPO trade Fair in Munich. The event gathered prominent speakers and invitees. The discussions engaged the European Commission, Sport Industry representatives such as René Harrer, Director Global Sales & Marketing at Head and Arne Strate from the European Outdoor Industry whom presented ground-breaking industry initiatives such as “It’s Great Out There”. The scientific angle was also much highlighted with the presence of speakers such as Pr. Richard Bailey and Dr. Anna Kleissner, Managing Director of SportsEconAustria, who presented staggering figures about the consequences of physical inactivity on growth and the job market.
The event highlighted the necessity to involve both the industry and policy makers, as long-term physical activity policies often clash with brands’ short-term market reasoning. Promoting an active lifestyle needs to be a multistakeholder exercise. Discussions during the ISPO workshop also reinforced this notion of cross-sectorial cooperation to find a solution to physical inactivity. It is thus clear that in a world of sport, where individual practices and expectations are evolving, the sporting goods industry has a key role to play to change minds and practices.