The purpose of this research was to examine whether changes in sports club membership can be attributed to the so-called trickle-down effect.
Often sport policy is justified on the grounds of: achieving international sporting success in important events; a home advantage effect of hosting events on home soil; and a role model effect whereby successful athletes have a positive impact on general sports participation rates. These comprise the trickle-down effect that effectively link elite and grassroots sport through inspiration.
Construction of a data set that combined sport membership in 33 sports with variables such as hosting events, athletes as role models, sporting success, population size and internet use.
A dynamic panel data analysis was used to examine if there is a causal relationship between membership and the three elements of the trickle down effect. Panel regressions were estimated using the Arellano-Bond (AB) and the System-Generalised Method of Moments (System-GMM) of Blundell and Bond (BB) estimators.
The research established a causal, although limited, link between sports membership and the trickle down effect. The results show that the trickle-down effect can last for a total of three to four years with sports club membership being influenced by:
- the current year's home events;
- last year’s sporting success;
- home events from two years ago, and
- Sports Personality of the Year results from three years ago.
The report was presented to UK Sport and was praised for its methodological rigour and its application to sports policy.