The many benefits of sport and recreation

Better academic outcomes and enjoyment of school, improved mental health and diversion from anti-social and criminal behaviour are just some of the benefits from sport and active recreation. 


Children engaged in sport and recreation do better academically and are more likely to enjoy school.

Health benefits

Participation in sport and recreation provides clear benefits in the five Australian national health priorities:

  • Promoting better mental health.
  • Cardiovascular disease prevention.
  • Diabetes prevention and control.
  • Primary prevention of some cancers.
  • Injury prevention.

Crime prevention

Sport and recreation can help to divert young people from crime and anti-social behaviours. It can also target those young people most at risk of committing crime and help their rehabilitation and development.

Economic benefits

  • Every dollar invested by the state government in the Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) generates $2.36 in direct economic activity and $6.51 in total economic activity.
  • Sport in Australia generated a net income of $8.8 billion in 2004/2005.
  • Big sporting events generate big money. The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships attracted 6000 competitors to Perth, injecting $23 million into the WA economy (Tourism WA, 2008).

Building social capital

Sport and recreation provides the catalyst for community gatherings, from small functions to major events, where people play, talk and share experiences. Importantly it has a positive effect that reaches many levels of our society. In short, sport and recreation creates social capital. This is important because “places with high levels of social capital are safer, better governed and more prosperous, compared to those places with low levels of social capital”. – Robert Putnam

Prevention is better than cure

The more people who are physically active and involved in sport and recreation, the less patients there will be. Increased participation in physical activity will reduce pressure on our hospitals.

  • In 2005 the total economic cost of obesity to the WA economy was $2.1 billion.
  • An estimate $1.5 billion per year is attributable to physical inactivity in direct health care costs.
  • Lack of physical activity is second only to tobacco as the leading contributor to the overall burden of disease among Australians.
  • Social participation and social support has been shown to increase participation in physical activity.

The power to unite

“Sport has the power to unite people in a way little else can. Sport can create hope. Breaks down racial barriers … laughs in the face of discrimination and speaks to people in a language they can understand.” – Nelson Mandela

Check out the latest the research.

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Quote of the week

“You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."

John Wooden, former UCLA Basketball coach

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