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The Pyramid Sport Model

A false representation of reality

The Pyramid Sport Model is not valid any more. It does not reflect the reality of sport and it definitely do not describe correctly the inter-linkage between elite sport and grass-root sport.
The three basic fundamental pillars, which are suppose to  preserve the illusion of the pyramid sport model are;

·    Financial solidarity between elite sport and grass-root sport
·    Grass-root sport creates top sport and top sport creates grass-root sport.
·    It is the same game



one big family or not?

Financial solidarity
The consensus indicating term : One big “family” of sport is very often used.  The term and the picture it creates is sometimes even magnified not only to a illustrate a Family but to the hole world – such as the slogan “One World One Dream”.
Here to be understood that being one family means: We share – We share the resources – and of course this is done based on strong solidarity.
This is unfortunately not the case – the illusion of the solidarity is kept alive – but today we see no solidarity with a balanced support between elite sport and grass-root sport sectors.

The second assumption which contribute to preserves the illusion of the pyramid is the assumption, convention or principle that grass-root sport creates top sport and top sport creates grass-root sport.

This principle build on the aspect of how to provide level of excellence and a marketing aspect.

The assumption is that having a huge base and structures for the grass-root base automatically will produce top performer. But when the goal is to creating top performers, the traditional pyramid structure with a huge base is not relevant.
A big mass is not very practical, it is far too costly and very rarely needed.
Maybe this model in some countries and back in the sixties and seventies was the model of sport. However it is long gone in most countries.

The marketing aspect and assumption is connected to the argumentation,  that top sport creates grass-root sport. The assumption is that top performance sport is a marketing vehicle for mass participation. That the top performance promotes the grass-root participation. The more top performers the more participants at grass-roots level.
This is maybe the connection and relation most often referred to. However, evidence of a marketing effect beyond a very short-term effect in some occasion, are very difficult to justify. Be it in expected promotion effects from mega events or from individual or team top performers.

It is the same game
But grassroots sport is not top sport at a lover performance level. The mindset and the preferences of the types of persons are different.

It is more precisely described as “Performer” vs. “Pro-sumer”
The top sport person strives after the external reference and arenas. The competitive sport at the highest level need references to other, ranking and platforms and arenas which support this.

The individual at a grass-root sport level is not driven by the external relation to measure the performance. They are driven by the motivation and interest to improve health, have fun and being involved in social networks. The difference between “Performer” and  “Pro-sumer”.

See the full presentation as video on demand at the Play the Game website.

See the full presentation as MS PowerPoint.