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The importance of sport to communities and cultures across the UK


The importance of sport to communities and cultures across the UK

Vince Macaulay, Head Coach of the London Lions has pondered the issue of community, culture and sport.

“Sport goes well beyond its impact on the pitch or on the court and this research reflects the effect that it has on communities across the UK. Not only do those from a BAME background feel disconnected from the stars they looked up to, but they seem to be the community most in need of this kind guidance and role models.” – Vince Macaulay, Head Coach of the London Lions

Sport has always been more than just a game, competition or hobby, both for those that participate and those watching; it has always extended well into the world of politics.

In the past, Jesse Owens’s famous performance in the 1936 Berlin Olympics humiliated Adolf Hitler, while in 1986 a “Black Power salute” by medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos made the world take notice. In the modern-day, where Black Lives Matter t-shirts worn by premier league footballers and F1 track stars such as Sir Lewis Hamilton have continued the campaign for equality, sport can be a powerful tool in highlighting, and combatting, racial discrimination.

The London Lions is one of the UK’s most diverse sports teams with players hailing from London all the way to the United States collegiate system, they are based in East London’s Copper Box arena and are looking to make a difference in their city and community. But at a time where communities are feeling more displaced and isolated than ever before, what role does UK sport play in the lives of ethnic minorities across the country?

“2020 was full of sporting icons that went above and beyond, Sir Lewis Hamilton excelled once again and Marcus Rashford’s school meals campaign proved to have a direct influence on government policy. Unfortunately while these stars made an impact, the vast majority of communities were disconnected from sport by Covid restrictions. – Vince Macaulay, Head Coach of the London Lions

To help understand these issues, make a practical impact as the UK’s most diverse sports team and highlight the role that sport can play in building communities, they have commissioned research into the impact here in the UK.

Key Statistics: 

*41% of BAME believe young, black men are misrepresented in UK sport

*35% trust sporting figures and icons more than politicians and people in power

*41% of BAME fans are hesitant to attend live sport due to the risk of racial and verbal abuse

*28% feel that their sporting role models are often misrepresented in the media

*42% don’t feel as if their ethnicity and/or culture is represented by sporting icons around today

*36% believe the ability to play and watch sport has aided their mental health more than any other mental health aid

*37% feel most included within their community and peers when playing sports

*28% believe that sport has helped them overcome adversity in their life more than local communities or school

In the UK, footballer Raheem Sterling has long been vocal about the racist abuse he is exposed to and the newspaper coverage of young black players that he claims “helps fuel racism”.

Across the Atlantic, one of the leading voices in campaigning for racial equality comes from the NBA where basketball players and teams alike have come together to raise money for charities promoting awareness and education around the issue.

“One of our key focuses as a team in 2021 will be to rebuild this relationship with both fans and local people, to offer opportunities and support to all ages, especially under 18s.” – Vince Macaulay, Head Coach of the London Lions

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