Skip main navigation

What is sport policy and who is it for?

How do we maximise the impact of sport policy? This article offers a definition, and ways to develop bigger picture thinking.
3 gymnasts support each other in a complex acrobatic structure. The gymnasts represent Participants (at the top), balanced on Sports Organisations and finally government at the base. A misalignment could cause the structure to tumble.

What is sport policy?

Sport policy sets clear goals and guidelines for how sport can contribute to society. Policies are influenced by a range of actors, including governments, intergovernmental agencies, as well as local communities and grassroots organisations. The policy is relevant to all stakeholders!

Policy commitments to elite sport

Sport has become more globally recognised in recent times within formal policy at global, regional, and national levels. This includes policy commitments to elite sport, sport for all, and sport and development, which seek to use sport to contribute to wider goals.

Sport policy serves the needs of all stakeholders

Sport policy should serve the needs of all stakeholders. No one should get left behind or feel excluded from participating in sport.

Every sport-connected organisation, regardless of size, has a role to play in moving sport for development forward, and policy is one way to achieve this.

Sport and development policy utilises sport as a tool for contributing to wider global goals, which can be useful to all.

Almost all organisations have policies

It is important to remember that almost all organisations have policies. They are not only for large or public sector organisations – a sports club may have a travel or safeguarding policy, for example.

Every person or group who contributes to the development of a policy is a ‘policymaker’. It is very likely you are already a policymaker and that you use policies in your work.

The following resources from sportanddev may be useful.

Learn more about sport and development policy

Toolkit for policy development, delivery and evaluation

Developing a policy – bigger picture thinking

A key skill needed for policy development in consideration of the bigger picture.

It is important to understand how sport can support organisational objectives and also consider bigger social, economic, environmental and/or political forces that may impact the implementation of your policy. For everybody involved, policy is about moving in the same direction, owning risks and delivering intended change.

Stakeholder engagement is vital in developing a policy. It enables alignment between the problem and scoped activities for change.

This article is from the free online

Sport for Sustainable Development: Designing Effective Policies and Programmes

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education