Networks in Hungarian leisure sports – framework for economic analysis and empirical findings
Hungarian leisure sports. Through a large sample quantitative on-line survey we explored university students’ leisure activities, and the role personal networks could play in increasing their sporting activity. This was supplemented by the secondary analysis of over thirty interviews with key stakeholders in leisure sport. We learned that the strongest drivers for increased leisure sport activity are inner determination and the recommendation of friends and family. While team sports lose popularity, the role of networks as potential facilitators of active pastime was identified. Even individual sports bring more excitement when done in good company. In addition, we outlined a fundamental typology of leisure sport networks in Hungary. Key actors were identified and categorised across two dimensions describing the nature of the networks: the strength and the symmetry of relationships within the networks. Our current empirically based categorisation highlighted room for improvement related to some of the key actors, like leisure sports associations and unions. Overall, the economic and social rationale for networks in leisure sports was demonstrated through our analysis. The key outcomes of efficient networks could be better access to information, more professional operations and, perhaps most importantly, providing the much needed community for doing sports. The implications of our study are related to policy making trying to stimulate more leisure sport activity in modern society, as well as business ventures willing to address valid consumer needs in a developing market. Furthermore, through the application of network theory in the complex field of leisure sports may provide a framework for future analytical studies of particular topics including motivation mechanisms, organisational processes or social impact.