Innovation in sport

April 13, 2010 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

There can’t be much that’s better in life than getting paid to think about sport.  Yesterday I spent the day with Sport England, supporting them with the final selection process for their Innovation Fund.  I had a brilliant time, thinking with representatives from sports new and old about how innovation could help Sport England achieve their mission to grow and sustain people’s participation in sport and to help them to excel.

I wish I could tell you about the great projects I met.  Sadly, propriety (and the risk of litigation) prevents me.  However, I did have two reflections on the day.  First, in much of the Innovation Unit’s work, we tend to push against the idea that all it takes to improve complex services is a clever widget.  In the NHS, ensuring hospital cleanliness is at least as much about people as it is products – because  staff need to be willing and able to do the job.  In sport, however, great product innovations often are enough – people are already passionate about sport and they just need great tools to help them.

Second, having spent a decade thinking about Bowling Alone as a metaphor, it was fascinating to see work in areas where this story of declining social institutions is so directly relevant.  So much of the challenge sport faces relates to the decline of formal sports clubs, and people’s desire to find quicker, easier, more informal ways to play .  I think it’s right to respond to that, but I also can’t help a sense of commitment and of really being part of a team is at the heart of many of the sporting memories I most treasure.

By John Craig

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Entry filed under: National Agencies. Tags: , .

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