Major Sporting Events

[The 2012 Summer Olympics are only partially covered under this driver as due to the magnitude of the event it is considered a mega-event and has been covered in its own right]

Between 2010 and 2015, the UK is to host numerous major sporting events, that is sporting events which are of an elite standard, will have a large number of spectators, and a national, or international media profile.  UK Sport’s Major Events Strategy has set a target of bringing 80 major international sporting events to the UK in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, with further ambitious targets post games.  Such major events include The Ryder Cup -2010, The Champions League Final 2011, The Rugby League World Cup -2013, The Commonwealth Games -2014, The Ryder Cup -2014 and the Rugby World Cup -2015. In 2011 alone up to 27 events will be staged within at least 22 different sports in 12 different towns and cities across the UK.

In the Conservative party manifesto leading up to the last general election, was a plan to introduce a Major Sports Events Bill aimed at making it easier to win and host major sporting events. Such plans seem, after the unsuccessful England 2018 World Cup bid, to be on hold and it is uncertain that such a Bill will be introduced at all.

Hosting major sporting events can have economic, social and capital benefits for both the local region, and the host nation at large. It is estimated that for every £1 of National Lottery funding invested into these events, an average of £4.90 of additional direct economic impact is generated for the host city and region [1]. For example, data shows that the 2003 Triathlon in Salford generated a return of £41.66 for every £1 of Lottery money that was committed to the event [2]. The UK Sport major international events programme 2013 – 2018, with a budget of £5, will seek to use the London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 as a catalyst to establish UK as a world leading host of major international events [3]. The success of such one off, large scale events is heavily reliant upon volunteers and the range of sporting events covered has great potential to inspire people to take up new sports and/or join voluntary sports clubs.

What are the implications?

  • Major UK sporting events (excluding the Olympics) held in 2011 and 2012 alone will require 13,000 officials and volunteers, bring 17,000 world class athletes to the nation, and be seen by 500,000 spectators
  • These major sporting events provide the chance for people to engage in a wide variety of volunteering roles across the UK and increase community profile, pride and sense of local cohesion. This creates opportunities for individual and community development
  • Skills that volunteers learn during the staging of an event are essential in helping to maintain its legacy
  • High profile events with elite athletes can act as an invitation in to volunteering for many who have previously not been interested in the idea
  • They represent relevant opportunities for volunteering leading up to, and following on from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  They can help people to gain experience to draw upon in the future, and also to familiarise themselves with volunteering at a large sporting event
  • The number of successive major sporting events to be held over a relatively short period of time may contribute to a cultural shift in mindset of UK citizens around volunteering, there is the potential to inspire a whole generation of young people who will look to volunteer at home rather than abroad, and also to establish the UK as a country based around community volunteering, with an emphasis on sporting events
  • Media coverage of events on television, radio, in newspapers and online will promote the host city across the UK, and potentially also across Europe, helping to increase tourism and visitor numbers to an area, which in turn aids the local economy.  This may create new opportunities for voluntary action
  • Economic benefits resulting from holding events could be re-invested in the voluntary sports sector and training opportunities for volunteers
  • However, the primary benefits from these events will be in terms of generating wider social capital rather than supporting sport and the voluntary sport sector –it is therefore important to maximise opportunities for sport and for wider volunteering
  • If an event is not particularly successful, or involves lengthy application processes, poor organisation and management, or people are not successful in their applications to volunteer it could result in putting volunteers, and potential volunteers off

Moving forward

 Over the coming years, the UK will be hosting a range of major sporting events which will create social, economic and cultural opportunities.  These have the potential to train and inspire a whole new generation of volunteers and to establish a culture of volunteering in the UK.

  • How can your organisation get involved with one of these major events?
  • What can your organisation do to contribute to increasing community profile and raising the profile of volunteering? 
  • What barriers might someone who has never volunteered before encounter? What can your organisation do to counter these and invite new volunteers in? 
  • What skills, knowledge or expertise has your organisation got which could assist in ensuring the smooth running and success of volunteer recruitment and the events themselves?
  • How can we remove barriers to retaining volunteers and encourage them to remain committed post event?

Want to know more?

Helping Out: A National Survey of Volunteering and Charitable Giving

Published by:The Office of the Third Sector



What is it?A detailed survey into reasons behind volunteering, what prevents this, and how giving time is related to giving money, as well as why and how much money people give to charity and what prevents people from giving to charity.

How useful is this? The main usefulness comes from the section on volunteering as opposed to charitable giving.  This section looks at the extent of formal volunteering, who volunteers, what they do, ways into becoming a volunteer, organising volunteering, benefits and drawbacks of volunteering, limitations on volunteering and employer support.  A clear report with a good range of facts and figures.

The Volunteer Legacy of a Major Sporting Event

Published by:The Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events



What is it?A research study into the volunteer legacy of a major sporting event.   The report aims to identify the aspects of the event that shaped voluntary action in the host community after the event.  Through social exchange theory (where people weigh benefits and risks of social relationships with the aim of continuing only relationships that maximise benefits and minimise costs to themselves) this article assesses the positive and negative experiences of the event for volunteers as predictors of future behavioural intentions.

How useful is this? A straightforward academic piece covering the contribution that major sport event volunteers make, how this relates to community development and the experiences and future intentions of volunteers at major sporting events.  Based on surveying 1098 volunteers at the 2001 Alliance London Jeux du Canada Games, the arguments are generated by robust data.  The volunteers reported back on what they perceived to be the benefits of volunteering prior to the event, and then what they experienced as being the benefits, as well as their experiences of any negative costs after the event.  Attention was then turned to looking at their intent to volunteer again in the future and how this was affected by their previous answers.  This approach generates some interesting data which is discussed and considered in terms of the implications for major sport event policy in the future.


[1] UK Sport Press release, ‘2011 major events announced as UK sport aims to set ‘international benchmark’ for host nations’, UK Sport, 14 February 2011 [back]

[2] Sport and Recreation Allilance [back]

[3] UK Sport Press release, ‘2011 major events announced as UK sport aims to set ‘international benchmark’ for host nations’, UK Sport, 14 February 2011 [back]

Last updated at 10:36 Tue 29/Mar/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

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