top of page

Sports participation down in schools as the obesity crisis costs the NHS £4.2 billion a year

Sky News transcript – 17th October 2015 07.15am Stephen Dixon [SD] - Newsreader Gillian Joseph [GJ] - Newsreader Steven Sylvester [SS] – Chartered Psychologist SD – ‘Lets go to Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire and former county cricketer turned sports psychologist Steven Sylvester, morning to you Steven. Now since the Olympics, the number of young people participating in weekly sport has dropped by over half a million, what’s going wrong?’ SS – ‘Well we have a major conflict in society, on the one hand rising obesity levels in young people while on the other hand sport isn’t motivating young people’ SD – ‘So how do we get sport to motivate young people?’ SS – ‘Well that’s the big million dollar question; we need a complete change of culture and values. Move away from the win-at-all-costs society that we live in and try and get young people engaging, having fun, smiling more and loving participating in sport’. SD – ‘There’s lots of talk you know about the money side of this and councils wanting to get their hands on more money to do this but what about parents?’. SS – ‘ Yeah I think every adult is a stakeholder in this and there are young people out there that are doing the wrong things, that are not active that are not involved in sport. But they’re discouraged because each sport is structured in a way where only the elite are really looked after and the participation levels for young people aren’t encouraged, so we need a complete change of systems where parents, coaches, stakeholders, governments, churches whoever, all need to be involved in trying to improve our win-at-all-costs culture that we live in. It’s kind of ironic that I work with the highest performers in the country and actually those individuals are more interested in having fun and getting the best out of their sport in order to become the best in the world than they are to try and push for doing the best that they can. SD – ‘Have we got a problem with sport per se? We sort of draw a line between being sporty and just being active. I mean when I was at school I hated sport, absolutely hated it. Not against being out and walking, fell walking where I come from and all that sort of thing but sport as an idea, I had a real problem with’ SS – ‘Yeah and that’s where I think we need a value change if we do sport where we can actually use it to facilitate social interaction - feeling good about ourselves, feeling competent you know. We need to address that and we can only do that through participation by encouraging the fun element of sport. I think that’s what we’ve lost and that’s a culture that isn’t necessarily about money it’s about communities understanding that it’s about winning for your community - being out there engaging with other people, about the pure joy of playing your sport . I think what’s happened is as money has become increasingly tight, children have been left to their own devices and not organised with their sport and that becomes a major issue. We need to completely recalibrate the way we do things so that young people feel inspired by coaches and parents and not that pushy parent that gets the top player to perform but the young player who’s not pushed by their parents just sits and becomes that couch potato that you talked about earlier’ GJ ‘Steven is Gillian in the studio, do you think that sport should be a daily occurrence in school that children should be playing some sort of sport everyday even if they don’t want to’

SS: ‘We need a pastoral care element in schools where young people are encouraged to play sport because it increases their self-esteem and the ability of sport to raise a child’s enthusiasm and develop their inner sort of belief is priceless. Young people get something vital from sport because we need people, we need community, we need social interaction and sport is a good way of facilitating that. So I encourage everybody to get together and think about it because we have a moral and ethical obligation to get people moving and use sport as a way of creating greater harmony with young people so they feel inspired. They have to chose to either play sport or not, if they’re discouraged because it is very competitive then they move away from it and then they just haven’t got the inspiration to do something different so what we need is a readdress of the complete desire to do sport for a greater purpose, beyond the individual and think about the participation so that friendships are born and a long life time in the sport whether they’re performers, administrators, coaches – they take some enjoyment out of being involved in a community where sport is seen as a by-product of their involvement’

SD – ‘Steven, thank you for your time this morning. It’s all about Fun’. Sky News clip to be posted soon:


bottom of page