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Towards Level Playing Fields? A Time Tend Analysis of Young People’s Participation in Club-organised Sports

Over the last 40 years, Sport for All policies – aiming at encouraging the sports participation of all citizens, regardless of age, sex, social class, ethnic origin, etc. – were implemented in a number of European countries. This study examines the extent to which a democratisation of club-organised youth sports has occurred. The data are drawn from a large repeated cross-sectional survey among high school boys and girls (aged 13–18) in Flanders, Belgium. Data collected in 1989 (N = 2088), 1999 (N = 1820) and 2009 (N = 1420) are analysed, using multilevel logistic regression. Results indicate that social stratification of club-organised sports participation still persists. Age, sex and socio-economic status (SES) continue to determine the likelihood of club involvement by Flemish youth. For boys, the impact of SES has increased. Also parental sporting capital affects club participation. However, in terms of sex, differences in participation have diminished over time.