The author is a currently registered on the MSc in Research (Sports Economics) at University College Cork.
Accessibility to sports facilities is a key consideration for both governments and policymakers. To date, this issue has been investigated internationally but there has been little research about the accessibility to sports facilities in Ireland. According to research carried out by Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index (TSSI) from 2019, Gaelic Games (Hurling and Gaelic Football) are the most popular sports in Ireland. Due to their popularity as the nation’s favourite sports, it is critical that all citizens have access to these facilities regardless of where they live or their standard of living. GAA facilities are ubiquitous on the island of Ireland, with nearly every small town and village boasting a team. The question that I ask is simply, are these GAA pitches located in more deprived areas?
In previous research Macintyre (2007) investigated the Deprivation Amplification Theory, that individual and household deprivation is amplified by area-level deprivation e.g. a lack of affordable nutritious food or a lack of facilities for physical exercise. Macintyre explored the commonly held idea that those who live in poorer areas have poorer access to resources and facilities for healthy diets and physical activities. Using the city of Glasgow in Scotland, Macintyre found that in the most deprived areas of the city the accessibility to large supermarkets for groceries is sufficient and that there is not a greater concentration of fast-food outlets in the area. Macintyre even found that in the more deprived areas that there is greater accessibility to green spaces.
Higgs, Langford and Norman (2015) examined the accessibility to sport facilities in Wales. Using GIS analysis in their study, they successfully identified variations in the accessibility to facilities. They discovered that those in the most deprived areas have greater accessibility to publicly owned sport facilities. Whereas those in more affluent areas had better accessibility to privately owned facilities. There was a similar trend found the following year in a study by Hoekman, Breedveld and Kraaykamp (2016) who explored the landscape of sport facilities in the Netherlands. They found that there was greater accessibility to public pools in poorer areas and that there was greater accessibility to facilities such as golf clubs in more affluent areas.
With little research in the area in Ireland prior to this I believe that the findings will be of interest to the Irish government, policymakers and ordinary citizens.