The Mulier Institute



MEASURE stands for Meeting for European Sport Participation and Sport Culture Research.

MEASURE is an international network of researchers aiming to develop the understanding of trends and differences in sportparticipation across countries and across time.

The MEASURE network was inititated at the 7th EASS meeting in Porto in 2010 by Koen Breedveld and Remco Hoekman of the Mulier Institute, and Jeroen Scheerder of the Catholic University Leuven, with the following objectives:

  • to improve the access to reliable sport participation data and the possibility for researchers to exchange information;
  • to improve the quality of sport participation data;
  • to improve the understanding of differences in sport participation between countries and social groups;
  • to raise interest in sport participation research among policy makers.

The network is loosely connected to the EASS (European Association for the Sociology of Sport, and meets at EASS-conferences.

For more information or to register as a member of MEASURE contact Remco Hoekman.

Background: sport policy and sports participation

In most European countries raising levels of sport participation, especially for groups that appear to lack behind, is one of the basic concerns underlying much policy interest in sports. This is, among others, reflected by the adoption of the European Sport for All charter by all of the member states of the European Union. We see an en-heightened interest in sports on EU level. Policy demands research to back up choices that need to be made, relying on data to be gathered, mechanisms to be detected, and interventions to be proven effective. The EU policy makers depend on the European research community to provide them with the necessary information to get a better understanding of sport participation.

In order to develop a public policy to increase sport participation rates and in order to set reasonable targets it is necessary to have a basic understanding of differences in sport participation and the development of sport participation rates over time. Sport participation research is in this matter an important instrument to guide and to evaluate policy actions. Most European countries have, to some extent, data available on sport participation.

Already in the 70s the first cross-national sport participation surveys have been launched. This resulted in a first attempt to rationalize sports policies in Europe. However, in order to improve the sport participation research in countries and increase the understanding of sport the need for a European framework on sport participation research increased. Because of the growing interest for benchmarking sport participation data there is a strong demand for a standardized definition of sport and an objective approach for sport participation research. In Europe this resulted at the end of the last century in the COMPASS project (Co-Ordinated Monitoring of PArticipation in SportS) (UK Sport, 1999, see publications). The COMPASS project addressed the problem of the variety of methodologies for data collection and data analysis that were used by European countries. The different research approaches made it difficult to compare the results. Therefore, the COMPASS project was foremost focused on improving the comparability of sport participation research in Europe.

Despite the success of COMPASS in developing a framework, this initiative never succeeded in making the results of different European countries truly comparable (van Bottenburg et al., 2005; Van Tuyckom et al., 2011; see publications). The guidelines do not prescribe exactly what to do in all the phases of the research process, e.g. (1) the sampling and fieldwork, (2) the research question formulation, and (3) the analysis procedures. A different approach on these fields will inevitably lead to differences with regard to outcomes. In addition the guidelines do not overcome cultural differences in interpreting the concept of sport.