Action sports in the Olympics

This project was awarded an Advanced Olympic Research Programme grant to understand youth attitudes towards the Olympic Games which focused on action sport participants. The project involved three methods, two of which use digital technologies extensively:
(1)  An online survey that can be completed in nine different languages;
(2) Media analysis of various print and online mass and niche media  sources (including social media);
(3) Interviews with key stakeholders in the action sport cultures and  industries.

Digital and social media were very important for the first two methods with 850 surveys completed by action sport enthusiasts from all over the world and over 1000 media and social media articles relating to the topic  being analysed. We are also used Skype to conduct most of our interviews with key individuals in the international action sport industries.

Why was this research important?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had recognised the need to understand and respond to changing youth sport participation and consumption trends. This project was the first to focus specifically on youth attitudes towards the Olympic Games and particularly action sport participants (i.e., skateboarding, surfing, climbing, parkour).

What were the key findings?

Our data and research was presented to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. The use of digital methods enabled us to develop an indepth understanding of global youth perception of the Olympics and conduct cost effective international research.  We continued to reflect on the politics and potential of these methods for understanding contemporary youth sport participation and consumption patterns.

Key project publication:

Thorpe, H., & Wheaton, B. (2011)
Why the Olympics are in search of the x factor? The Conversation: Retrieved from