Sport, Religion, Wellbeing, and Cameron’s Big Society


  • Mike Collins University of Gloucestershire



“Big Society”, Sport, Wellbeing, Happiness, Implicit Religion


Forms of sport and forms of religion are near-global phenomena. This article starts by summarising participation in both domains, and the benefits to individuals and society arising therefrom in terms of health, social capital and wellbeing. Sport is such a major social activity that some have suggested it also is a religion. This I refute; but it is an aspect of popular passion, an implicit religion. It is also recovering more links now with religious practice, after three-quarters of a century of decline. Both generate a large volume of social activity and capital, and contribute positively to health and well being. David Cameron, interested in measuring what truly matters to people, instituted a major new survey. He also espoused the idea of the “Big Society,” as a growth of freedom for local social development, which received a mixed response in the light of broader government policies for cutting public expenditure. With sport as one of the largest segments of volunteering, one might think here was potential for it to take on an even more significant role, but (this paper suggests) there are reasons for significant limits to the further development of its potential importance.

Author Biography

Mike Collins, University of Gloucestershire

With great regret, we have to report the loss of Mike Collins, at the very time that this issue was at the proof-reading stage, following treatment over many months. We thank Dr. Dan Collins for his assistance with proof-reading the final version of Mike's article.


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How to Cite

Collins, M. (2014). Sport, Religion, Wellbeing, and Cameron’s Big Society. Implicit Religion, 17(2), 139–165.



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