Why this study?
In February 2022, SKEMA Publika published a report entitled Emergy Youth Early Signs (EYES), identifying the opinions and feelings of young people from five different countries on five major political themes: work, new technologies, traditional media and the press, social media, and security. As the list of themes was deliberately kept short, sport was not included. However, its considerable importance had not escaped us. This study is intended to fill that gap.
Sport is indeed omnipresent. Globally, in 2022 half of the top trending Google searches were about sport, and particularly cricket and football matches. Sporting events succeed one another, as do the controversies. With the Rugby World Cup 2023 and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games just around the corner, sport is a daily feature in the media, in political and economy columns, and in conversations with family and friends. Everyone agrees on the importance of promoting sport for all and on the benefits of sport for young people, particularly in terms of improving health, developing autonomy, improving employability, and teaching values.
But what do we know about what the younger generation think of it? After all, they are the ones who are going to be discovering it and participating in it (or not). This is a complex subject, as sport is so multidimensional and multifaceted.
In this context, and in keeping with the general aims of SKEMA Publika, we wished to conduct a comprehensive study focusing on sport, so as to identify, based on the expectations expressed by the young people of a number of countries, the major evolutions which are likely but also necessary over a ten-year period, while taking into account the national and international policies currently in place, then put forward some recommendations for national and international policy-makers.
This is a two-part study:
- The first part, outlined in this document, presents the results of the quantitative and qualitative surveys of thousands of young people from various countries. A summary and some initial recommendations are provided.
- The second part, due for publication in late 2023, will present the various public policy models in sport around the world, as well as the existing framework of international rules, to attempt to identify the elements among them that could best fulfil the expectations of international youths and address national and international governance issues; it will also look at the role of sport in our societies, possibly as an accelerator of peace, development and sustainability.
For this first part, we wished to identify the views, expectations and needs of young people with regard to sport. We noted many common interests and concerns. Sport is a multidimensional object that touches education, health, work, entertainment and leisure, and the social sphere among other areas; it is also very much linked to personal development and to enjoyment. The geopolitical, soft power, nationalism and identity aspects of sport did not escape the young people surveyed either.
To gather the opinions of young people, we performed a digital scan of the social media platform Twitter. Approximately 7.6 million tweets were analysed across 7 geographical areas: 5 countries, corresponding to the five SKEMA Business School campus locations (France, USA, South Africa, Brazil, China), and two zones in Africa (French-speaking Africa and English-speaking Africa). The posts studied were published by more than 670,000 individuals between the ages of 18 and 24. The analysis covers two study periods, each spanning one year: a first phase took place from 24 October 2021 to 24 October 2022, and a second from 16 January 2022 to 16 January 2023.
We also conducted qualitative interviews with 95 students from SKEMA Business School and EFAP (an international school of communication), representing 18 different nationalities. These students engaged in a wide variety of sports: volleyball, running, squash, swimming, tennis, athletics, horse riding, football, futsal, badminton, Basque pelota, cycling, skiing, basketball, dance (modern jazz and hip hop), body building, triathlon, chess, fencing, table tennis, boxing, windsurfing, surfing, wakeboarding, walking, padel tennis, climbing. To avoid a profile bias, 41 of the students were interviewed precisely because they do not do any sport.