Over the past three years, members of Sheffield Hallam University’s Outdoor Research Recreation Group (ORRG) have been key partners in an Erasmus+ Sport collaborative European project to measure the Benefits of Outdoor Sports for Society (BOSS). BOSS adopted a multi-disciplinary approach involving world leading academic institutions, central and local government agencies, federations and practical deliverers to ensure its credibility in development and practicability in delivery.
The rationale behind the project was to create a mechanism for measuring the social benefits of outdoor sport in economic terms. BOSS involved a three stage sequential and logical approach:
Stage 1 - a systematic review of existing studies and projects that have examined the social benefit of outdoor sport. This was undertaken across Europe and at an international level and, uniquely, included searches conducted in seven different languages.
Stage 2 - building on the information gathered from the Stage 1 review, an agreed methodology was developed for capturing the value of health and social benefits.
Stage 3 - the testing and evaluation of the methodology in practical projects and programmes across the partner states was then undertaken, to ensure that it was practicable to do and that it produced comparable information. This involved training case study programme leaders in the methodology developed.
ORRG Chair Maxine Gregory and Dr. Larissa Davies, along with Dr. Girish Ramchandani, were responsible for designing the methodology and coordinating the testing. The project has recently been completed and there is a dedicated website (https://outdoorsportsbenefits.eu/). The website enables access to findings from the research, an overview of the test projects / case studies and the ‘tool kit’ which presents the methodology to enable other organisations to consider the social value created through their activities.
The project has been promoted through social media and the outputs have been shared via direct mailings, reports, conferences, articles, a published academic paper:
Eigenschenk, B., Thomann, A., McClure, M., Davies, L., Gregory, M., Dettweiler, U. & Inglés, E. (2019). Benefits of Outdoor Sports for Society. A Systematic Literature Review and Reflections on Evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16, Physical Activity in Natural Settings – Green and Blue Exercise
Further publications are anticipated throughout 2020.