Gilchrist, P., & Wheaton, B. (2013). Lifestyle sport, public policy and youth engagement. In Sports & Leisure Managment, Part Two: Sport and Leisure Lifestyles. Sage.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13703
In this paper we consider the development of parkour in the South of England, and its use in public policy debates and initiatives around youth, physical activity, and risk. Based on in-depth qualitative interviews with participants and those involved in the development of parkour in education, sport policy, and community based partnerships, we explore the potential of parkour to engage communities, particularly those traditionally excluded from mainstream ‘sport’ and physical education provision. We discuss how the perceived ‘success’ of parkour in these different contexts is related to the culture and ethos of the activity that is more inclusive, anti-competitive, and less rule bound than most traditional sports; and to its ability to provide managed risk-taking. More broadly, the paper highlights and discusses the emergence of lifestyle sports as ‘tools’ for policy makers, and the potential role these nontraditional, non-institutionalised ‘lifestyle sports’ can make in terms of encouraging youth engagement, physical health and wellbeing. Our paper therefore contributes to on-going debates about the ability of traditional sports to meet government targets for sport and physical activity participation.