People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are still far less likely to be physically active – despite efforts to tackle the deep-rooted inequalities in activity levels.
The issue has been laid bare in a new report, which also shows that BAME groups are also far less likely to volunteer in sport and enjoy the benefits associated with it.
The report, Sport for all - why ethnicity and culture matters in sport and physical activity, is described as the most comprehensive ever picture of how people from BAME communities are taking part in sport and physical activity. It has been drawn from the survey responses of more than 100,000 people who contributed to the most recent Active Lives Adult and Children Surveys. Published by Sport England, the report shows that, presently, 62 per cent of adults in England meet the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) guidelines of 150 minutes of physical activity a week.However, just 56 per cent of Black people and 55.1 per cent of Asian people (excluding Chinese) reach this figure.
The differences in activity levels are even greater when looking at ethnic sub-groups.
According to the report, less than half of adults from a Pakistani (48.8 Per cent) and Bangladeshi (49.6 per cent) background currently meet the CMO guidelines. However, those from a "mixed" white and Asian background are the most active adults of all – with 74.6 per cent classed as physically active.
Speaking at a special conference to promote the research in Birmingham Sport England board member and former CEO of Sported Chris Grant said the results of the report show that it is vitally important to "work to close the ethnicity gap in sport participation". "I’m convinced that sport must be a leader, and not a follower," he said.
"That’s why I want to invite and challenge the whole of sport to come with us on this journey, and in doing so to be clear-sighted and honest about the ways in which we’re currently excluding and letting down whole swathes of our population.
"When it suits us, we’re happy to talk about the leadership role that sport can play; its capacity to inspire a nation or to transform lives. No other aspect of national life has so many column inches and broadcast hours devoted to it. But there’s an elevated level of discomfort when talking about race and culture in sport and we need to get beyond this."