Defining sport, leisure and recreation


The framework for Sport in England – ‘Making England an Active and Successful Sporting Nation: A Vision for 2020’ adopts the definition and description established by the Council of Europe Sports Charter in 1993:

“Sport means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.”


Whilst sport is relatively clearly defined and understood, the term leisure provision beckons an endless list of definitions. For the purpose of this Project we can do no better than the uncomplicated definition of: –

Leisure is the time which an individual has free from work and other duties and which may be utilised for the purposes of relaxation, diversion, social achievement or personal development [ref. Gist and Fava 1964].


George Torkildsen, in the A – Z of Leisure Management stated that the word Recreation can be perceived more broadly and in different ways. It suggests leisure activities, recuperation, relaxation, pleasure, and satisfaction. Recreation as a concept of activity is understood.

The main use of the term “recreation” is in its traditional institutional framework of activities, programmes and facilities; it can thus be considered as an activity performed, a set or cluster of activities or leisure-time expressions. In this setting it has also been defined as a social institution and as a professional service.

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