Understanding public perceptions about elite sports’ societal impact: Scale development and testing among the Belgium population

Jens De Rycke, Veerle De Bosscher, Hiroaki Funahashi, Popi Sotiriadou

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished abstract


Research question. As nations are increasingly investing public money in elite sport, policy makers are required to justify their decisions. A commonly used justification is that elite sport will trigger a wide range of benefits for the population. However, robust empirical evidence is limited and tools to evaluate the societal impact are lacking. Therefore, this study aimed to develop and test a quantitative measurement scale assessing the public’s perception of the positive and negative societal impact of elite sport.
Research methods. Scale development commenced by formulating items based on a total of 84 societal impacts of elite sport, detected during a systematic review. Next, a representative sample from the Belgian population (n=1102) was surveyed. An exploratory (EFA) followed by two confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) ware performed to assess and increase the scale’s adequacy. Multivariate analysis was employed to examine the role of contextual and individual variables.
Results and Findings. After a process of item exclusion, a 32-item model remained from which the goodness-of-fit indices were excellent, indicating high reliability. Furthermore, the results indicate that the Belgian population generally perceived more positive than negative societal impacts of elite sport.
Implications. The developed Measuring Elite Sports’ Societal Impact (MESSI) scale can serve as a useful tool for researchers seeking to measure the positive and negative impacts of elite sport to society and compare them across different nations. Moreover, the MESSI results could support evidence-based decision-making regarding elite sport investments.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017
EventVK Symposium - Vrije Universiteit Brussel - Campus Jette, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 15 Dec 201715 Dec 2017


ConferenceVK Symposium


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding public perceptions about elite sports’ societal impact: Scale development and testing among the Belgium population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this