Social Composition & Sport Dropout: study on socioeconomic and demographic reasons for soccer club dropout
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Issue Dropout numbers are estimated at 130.000 people per year by NOC*NSF, which should cover all sports registered at NOC*NSF. However, this study shows that dropout at the KNVB alone exceeds this estimation. This discloses that dropout is an underestimated issue that requires more attention from sport associations and sport clubs. Sport associations and sport clubs are more inclined to focus on membership recruitment than on retaining members. Still, membership recruitment is much more expensive than retaining members. The question then is, why do people dropout of a club? (and what can we do about it?) Individual motivations for dropout are much more researched to date than club aspects that could motivate individuals to dropout. Consequently, this research looks into sport club aspects for dropout, focusing on the social composition of the sport clubs and their dropout rates. The research question is: To what extent does the social composition of a sport club play a role in the decision of members to end the membership? Purpose The purpose of this research is to understand better what the influence of social composition is on people’s decision to end their membership. To answer the research question, this research looked into ethnicity, income, education level, gender, and age of all members of all soccer clubs, and related this to the dropout rate of that sport club. This understanding of sport club reasons for dropout leads a number of recommendations for soccer clubs, the KNVB, and in extension, other sports. These recommendations can be taken into account when formulating ways of tackling dropout in general, or in specific groups (of clubs), as dropout is a major factor in membership loss. Approach This research draws upon the theoretical perspective of Putnam, especially the idea of hunkering down. Hunkering down points out that people (literally) tend to look down when social contexts become too complex. This could also indicate why people dropout of sports. We expected from theory that non-Westerners (ethnicity), low minimum income, and low education levels led to fewer dropouts, and that for gender and age specific conditions were required. The question was answered using KNVB and Statistics Netherlands data. The analyses done were correlations and multiple regression. Results From the table below it can be derived that non-Western ethnicity, males, high maximum age, and high minimum age have highest correlation percentages with dropout. This indicates that when either one of these variables or dropout goes up, the other variable goes up as well. The problem with establishing correlations is that it does not represent causality. However, these results can be used as an initial idea of how social composition and dropout are correlated. ￼The results of multiple regression were a model that included all the aspects of social composition that were deemed influential on dropout: non-Western ethnicity, income, being highly educated, and age. The model explained about 30% of the dropout in soccer clubs. These aspects of social composition need thus be taken into account when trying to tackle dropout in soccer clubs, and perhaps in sport clubs in general.