The following table provides details on the sample of athletes represented in this report. The comparison shows that the sample is well aligned with the population on most parameters. The sample is weighted to restore it to population proportions in terms of gender, type of sport, season of sport and educational status.
High performance athletes continue to demonstrate a high degree of dedication to their athletic career. When asked to prioritize various aspects of their lives, nine in ten (92 per cent) identified sport as most important. Family is a close second (rated “highly important” by 84 per cent), followed by friends (63 per cent) and education (48 per cent). Four in ten - 37 per cent - say that work is moderately important, but it is clearly not something that they focus a great deal of attention on at this point in their athletic career. Interestingly, athletes were previously more inclined (in 1992 and 1997) to rank their education above their friends, however, this is no longer the case.
The importance of family and education resonates more strongly among women than among men. Developing athletes, full-time students and athletes who participate in team sports also attribute a higher degree of importance to education than others. While the importance of education declines with age, employment only becomes more important. Athletes with national cards, those with a university degree, athletes who are employed or who participate in team sports also ascribe higher levels of importance to employment. The only difference in the importance placed on sport is that fewer employed athletes place a high level of importance on sport than those who are not employed.
Even greater evidence of the importance of sport in athletes’ lives exists in the fact that more than half of high performance athletes (58 per cent) consider sport to be a way of life – far beyond a professional career (23 per cent), a job (six per cent) or a recreational activity (five per cent). These views have remained relatively consistent over time.
High profile athletes who have access to commercial opportunities are more inclined to characterize sport as a professional career, whereas athletes who do not have such opportunities are more likely to think of sport as a way of life. Athletes participating in winter sports (who are older) also identify more with sport as a professional career than do athletes pursuing summer sports.