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8 | Chapter 1 GENERAL INTRODUCTION AND AIM OF THIS DISSERTATION The social significance of sport has surged in recent decades. Its public value draws more and more on a vision beyond the intrinsic value of sport (the aim of “sport for sports sake”) and more towards its external merits (“sport for the greater good”) (Brookes &Wiggan, 2009). This appreciation of sport’s functional power stems from its perceived advantageous consequences (Schlesinger & Nagel, 2015; Waardenburg & Van Bottenburg, 2013), for example in improving physical, psychological and social health (Coenders et al., 2017; Eime et al., 2013; Miles, 2007; Oja et al., 2015), in nurturing social capital and integration and thereby fostering social networks (Knoppers, 2006; Putnam, 1995; Seippel, 2006), and in spurring economic growth (European Commission, 2013; Van der Meulen et al., 2012). It is therefore understandable that creating possibilities for safe and nearby sport participation for everyone (i.e., “sports for all”) across the life span (i.e., “lifelong sport participation”) have become a priority in governmental policies and campaigns related to sports, physical activity and health (Council of Europe, 2001; Pilgaard, 2013; Van Tuyckom, 2011; Waardenburg & Van Bottenburg, 2013) such as, in the Netherlands, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (Van Ark, 2020; Van Ark & Blokhuis, 2020), the Dutch Olympic Committee & Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF, 2017) and the Association of Sports and Municipalities (VSG, 2018)). From an individual’s perspective, practising sport is, for many, an important leisure time activity and present in everyday life. Time spend on active sport participation more than doubled from 1.5% of the available leisure time in 1975, to 3.6% in 2011 (Tiessen-Raaphorst et al., 2014), up to 3.9% in 2016 (Pulles & Tiessen-Raaphorst, 2018). According to most recent measurements in 2016, Dutchmen spend on average 1.7 of the weekly available 43.8 hours of leisure time on active sport participation, and the ones that participated weekly did so for 3.5 hours a week (Pulles & Tiessen-Raaphorst, 2018; Roeters, 2019). However, sport participation of individuals is intrinsically dynamic over the life course. The stability (also called “tracking”) of sport participation is low (Hirvensalo & Lintunen, 2011; Malina, 2001; Telama, 2009; Vanreusel et al., 1997). Individual sport careers are shaped by alternations between active sport episodes and episodes of inactivity (Engel & Nagel, 2011) and characterised by changes in activity level and sort of activity (Butcher et al., 2002; Lunn, 2010; Scheerder et al., 2006; Seippel, 2005). So, from a life-course perspective,

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