New Benenden study reveals the influence parents have on children's sporting choices
10th June 2016
Almost a third (30%) of parents in the UK admit to not encouraging their children to take part in any kind of sport, a survey released today by mutual health and wellness provider Benenden shows. With recently published findings from Public Health England showing that a shocking 1 in 3 children in year 6 are measured as obese or overweight, it’s clear that negative parental attitudes to sport and healthy lifestyles are having a devastating and potentially lifelong impact on their offspring.
Benenden and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) have teamed up to host Benenden Tennis Festivals throughout the year and right across the UK. This encourages parents to get out and participate in sport alongside their children. With nearly 1 in 3 (30%) parents admitting they don’t encourage their child into sport, Benenden hope that this partnership with the LTA will help get more children and parents into the sporting environment together.
One man who is no stranger to passionate parental support is former World No.1 doubles player Jamie Murray, “It’s pretty common knowledge that my mum was a former tennis coach and one of the reasons that Andy and I took up the sport. I have personally benefited hugely from this professional expertise and am grateful for the opportunities sport has given me. Equally, when it comes to footballing matters – my family were a huge influence on who I ended up supporting. My grandfather played for Hibernian F.C. and I’ve supported them all my life, so it was a huge moment when Hibs recently won the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years!”
Benenden’s research showed that three quarters of parents (74%) would be more inclined to encourage their child to play a sport that they were either passionate about, or had played themselves. And it’s not just Jamie Murray with a strong familial sporting link that backs this finding up; Frank Lampard’s father Frank Lampard Sr. was a professional footballer in his day, Formula 1 Driver Nico Rosberg’s father Keke is a former World Championship winner; and recently-crowned Premier League Champion Kasper Schmeichel of Leicester City’s father Peter Schmeichel not only followed his dad into football, but goalkeeping too!
Also playing a part in whether or not parents encouraged their kids to take part in certain sports was how accessible they are. 1 in 4 (25%) parents’ said their choice for their child’s sporting activity was either a result of affordability, or how easily accessed it was from where they live.
Lawrence Christensen, Group Marketing Director at Benenden, said: “Promoting good health and wellbeing is at the heart of Benenden’s values and the Benenden Tennis Festivals, events across the UK which encourage parents to get out and participate in sport alongside their children, are a great way of keeping fit. Our aim with Benenden Tennis Festivals is to make tennis even easier for people to take part in. Put simply, we want to help the LTA to get more people playing tennis more often.”
The Benenden findings also show that parental attitudes to sport influence their children beyond whether they take part or not, with a particular impact on influencing which sporting teams their children support. Nearly half (42%) of parents admit to forcing their children to support the same sports team as them, and over half (53%) say that they would care if their child went against them and supported a different team.
Younger dads are much more likely to influence their children into supporting the same team as them with 46% of dads, compared to 38% of mums, agreeing they would do this. Younger parents are also more likely to be pushier in support of their children ‘on the field’ with 1 in 10 16-24 year olds admitting to shouting support for their offspring from the side-lines.
See the infographic of the results of the findings here.
 Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet - England, 2016: