Sport and ethnicity

The number of people playing sport varies widely by ethnic group.

15 December 2017

Analysis carried out in 2012 on Active People Survey data (APS 6 Q2 results) showed take-up is higher among people from mixed background, with 44% playing sport at least once a week.

Among other ethnic groups, participation varies very little for men. Among women, however, females from white backgrounds are also more likely to take part in sport compared to people from Chinese, other and black backgrounds, with a low of 21% for females from Asian backgrounds.

Across sport as a whole, 89% of those who take part are from white, and 11% from non-white backgrounds (88% of the English population are from white backgrounds). But this varies in specific sports.

In basketball and cricket, for instance, over a third are from non-white backgrounds; badminton and football also have a higher than average proportion of players from these groups. On the other hand, non-white players make up a small share of cyclists and golfers.

Research review

A Sport England review of research in the field found relatively low numbers of people from ethnic minorities in sport. This was true of spectators, volunteers and administrators as well as players.

The paper recommends good practice for sports providers, including:

  • Training for those working in sport on the needs of other ethnic communities and on challenging exclusion
  • Ensuring that racial equality objectives in policies are converted into practice
  • Training sports facilitators from BME communities.