The Future of Australian Sport

I was interviewed today by Lisa-Cathrine Wilhelmseder as part of an Australian Sports Commission research project being conducted in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) into ‘The Future of Australian Sport’.
It is “the first research study of its kind to be conducted within the field of Australian sport, the study will examine a range of social, economic, political, environmental and technology insights, to predict trends that may impact the future of Australian sport.”
For those who would like to have a say on ‘The Future of Australian Sport’ and contribute their views to the study, either:

  • Visit the online forum to share your views on future trends that may impact Australian sport. (To access this forum, please email CSIRO at
  • Fill in an electronic form to share your views on future trends. To request this form, please email

The ASC and CSIRO have identified industry experts both within and outside the sport sector to seek their knowledge and expertise on future trends. This involves: interviews with a cross-section of industry experts to seek their in-depth insights; workshops with a targeted selection of key experts to obtain their high-level insights on the most significant trends.
The project research team can be contacted at
I enjoyed my conversation with Lisa-Catherine. My interview was recorded with my consent and Lisa-Catherine’s semi-structured interview made chatting very easy.
I see two approaches in this project: looking forward to 2040 and looking back from 2040 to the present. I suggested that one trend to discuss is declinism and the other is to look at the social capital value of play, games and sport as intrinsically worthwhile.
My hope is that there can be an organic approach to sport that links families, schools, and communities. I do think we will have major demographic issues to address in 2040 combined with catastrophic climate events and trends.
For example:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that of all the changes that are projected to occur in Australia’s population, “ageing is the most dramatic, resulting in major changes to the age structure of the population. The projections show that the ageing of Australia’s population, which is already evident, will continue. This is the inevitable result of fertility remaining at low levels over a long period associated with increasing life expectancy. As growth slows, the population ages progressively with the median age of 35 years in 1999 increasing to 40-42 years in 2021 and 44-47 years in 2051.” “The age composition of Australia’s population is projected to change considerably as a result of population ageing. By 2056 there will be a greater proportion of people aged 65 years and over than at 30 June 2007, and a lower proportion of people aged under 15 years. In 2007 people aged 65 years and over made up 13% of Australia’s population. This proportion is projected to increase to between 23% and 25% in 2056.”
CSIRO pointed out in 2008 that:
“Australian average annual mean temperatures have increased by 0.9°C since 1910 (Figure 2a). Most of this warming has occurred since 1950, with the greatest warming in central and eastern parts and the least warming in the far northwest. The warmest year for Australia since 1910 was 2005, while 2007 was the warmest year for much of southern Australia. The number of hot days and nights has increased and the number of cold days and nights has declined.”
Four years earlier CSIRO noted that:
“The combined impact of rising sea levels and extreme weather events are likely to result in increasing occurrence and severity of high rainfall and flood events in some parts of the country. Research shows that with a 20cm sea level rise, damage costs associated with flooding would increase by up to 50%. Despite forecasts for decreased rainfall in many areas of Australia, research by CSIRO predicts that by 2040, climate patterns for the eastern coast of Australia are likely to bring about more intense and more frequent extreme rainfall events. The most vulnerable regions for extreme rainfall include Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta, north of Brisbane, and over mountainous terrain.”
At present “eighty percent of Australians live within 80 miles of the sea; 50 percent of the country’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach.”
My hope is that this research project can persuade all political parties to have an agreed approach that would allow a thirty year window of policy opportunity rather than a three-year turn around of priorities.
We might even come up with a Finland solution that does for sport what long-term planning has done for Finnish education.
Photo Credit
Challenge and Support slide. (Andreas Schleicher (Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division of OECD’s Directorate for Education) visited Australia in May 2010. His presentation Seeing Your Education System in the Mirror of Other OECD Systems, can be found on SlideShare.)



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