Sports associations throughout Europe have been loosing members for the last 10 years, as people turn to individual sports and are at a lose to reverse this downward trend. Although in The Netherlands the percentage of people participating in sport has been increasing recently, the percentage of people joining sports associations has been declining. In fact the NOC NSF http://www.sport.nl/ (Dutch Olympic committee) are devising strategies and creating expensive marketing plans to revitalize the interest in membership of football clubs, membership of badminton clubs. Despite
The situation is a little puzzling, because on the one hand more and more people are becoming consious about their bodies and general health and are turning to sport or doing some activity to keep fit, but at the same time less and less people are interested in joining sports clubs. I am assuming this is why gyms are shooting up like mushrooms all over cities and gym membership is rising and finally the price of a monthly gym membership is on the decline.
With the current phenomen of more choice/decisions and less available time, the easy option is to become a member of a gym. Due to its flexibility of working out when you want, as opposed to having to do sport every wednesday evening and Saturday morning as part of a football club match schedule. The gym option is nice and flexible, but it takes a disciplined person to make the most out of it.
But as most people know working out at the gym is a solitary exercise, unless the gym encourages it, generally it lacks the social element of a sports club. The gym to some, may feel like punishment as opposed to fun. On the contary at the sports club you have the support, friendship and motivation from other members to keep you entertained/interested and on track if you have personal sports goals. But despite this, people are still turning away from the sports association /club membership and signing up to expensive gyms.
Why is sport seem by so many as a "necessary evil" that can be tackled by promising yourself to attend the gym 2 times per week and make the most of the gym membership, as opposed to sport being seen as a pleasurable experience, a hobby or past time? The difference is people, relationships and connections. This is what sports associations and sports clubs need to focus on in their marketing campaigns and strategies, promoting the social element of sports, as this is what makes sport enjoyable for most (non-fanatical) people.
Sports associations should take advantage of the groundswell of people on social networking websites to recruit new members. Social media like networking sites is all about connections and relationships, so combining an online community and and offline sports club is an ideal combination.
This is one of the many reasons I created http://www.e-sporters.com/ (ESPORTERS Ltd) to help sports clubs and sports associations form their own online communities, which help them recruit members to their clubs, promote their events, and help them to communicate with their members more effectively than they do currently. Sports clubs and sports associations can register for free on the site.