Professional sports clubs and their stadia have a lot to gain from promoting walking and cycling routes to and from stadia and installing suitable assets such as cycle locking facilities. The benefits include improving the health of their fan base and encouraging their workforce to be more active. There are also significant advantages in terms of reducing noise pollution, congestion and improving air quality in and around the stadium.
Encouraging spectators to be physically active now extends beyond simply travelling to and from stadia to how we can make supporters active during professional sports. Preliminary research has identified golf as one such spectator sport that has an intrinsic ‘active’ component, as fans follow their favourite golfers around the course, and may constitute a ‘teachable moment’, increasing physical activity beyond tournaments themselves.
Although the benefits of tobacco-free stadium policies are now well acknowledged, many clubs and stadium operators are disempowered by a lack of robust national legislation preventing smoking in enclosed and semi-enclosed spaces. However, even in countries with weaker tobacco control laws that do not apply to stadiums settings, stadium operators have the right to go beyond legislation by integrating strict smoke-free or tobacco-free policy into a stadium’s ground regulations.
Although tobacco sponsorship from high-profile professional sport has been eradicated, and thus the relationship between sport and tobacco is diminished, alcohol sponsorship is still pervasive. A systematic review published in 2016 reported a positive association between exposure to alcohol marketing and alcohol consumption.
In professional football, the stakes are high and the pressure to achieve can have a significant impact on young people who play the game at the highest level. Therefore, the mental health of young academy players is becoming increasingly important and is now being given the same attention as physical fitness.
Mental health is still an issue that some people – particularly men – are reluctant to talk openly about. Sport has been identified as a vehicle that can tackle stigma and sport settings can provide a safe and relaxed environment for individuals to share experiences of stress, anxiety and pressure.