At Magpie we use behavioural science as part of our approach to life-changing campaigns for social good. Earlier this year we worked together with Alcohol Change UK to explore how alcohol may present a barrier to British Asians engaging with sport.

To create the report we used a behavioural science informed and evidence-based method, to understand the experiences of British Asians in watching and participating in cricket and rugby union. Specifically, we wanted to examine how a culture of drinking may prevent a barrier for this group and source of exclusion.

Why the report is needed

Alcohol Change UK is a leading alcohol charity working to significantly reduce serious alcohol harm in the UK. Their goal is to see better, evidence-based policy-making that takes the steps that will reduce harm. Their strategy commits them to tackling the White-centric approach to reducing alcohol harm and to centre the voices of people of colour in order to listen to what people and communities need.

What were we trying to find out

One particular area of interest is sport, a key component of life in the UK but also where deep-rooted inequalities lie. Alcohol Change UK commissioned Magpie to explore the role of alcohol in creating barriers to participation and engagement. Rugby union and cricket were selected because both are sports in which spectators can consume alcohol in sight of the pitch, and both have been described as sometimes having troublesome relationships with alcohol. 

Questions to answer

Working with Alcohol Change UK, we started out with a series of research questions:

  1. Is British Asian people’s enjoyment of watching and/or playing cricket and rugby union adversely impacted by a perceived culture of heavy drinking?
  2. What are the experiences of British Asian people in attending cricket and/or rugby union matches where alcohol is present? How do British Asian people navigate situations at sports stadiums where alcohol consumption and drunkenness are visible and commonplace?
  3. What are the experiences of British Asian people in participating in these sports at a community level? Do they feel welcome at their local clubs and does a culture of heavy drinking mean such clubs are places to avoid, accommodate, negotiate, and/or challenge? 
  4. What (more) do British Asian people think governing bodies of cricket and rugby union, community clubs and stadia, can do to make British Asians feel (more) welcome?

How we did it

To understand the experiences of British Asians and to answer the four research questions, we used a research process that included a literature review, survey and focus groups. A series of analyses allowed us to draw on all collated evidence to develop key conclusions and recommendations based on the research.

Our methodology included: 

  • Conducting a comprehensive review of the interdisciplinary literature and of existing external alcohol and sport related research.
  • Working closely with Alcohol Change UK (using our expertise in social psychology and behaviour change) to finalise a survey, to understand and answer each of the four research questions.
  • Conducting focus groups to dig deeper with research participants, to understand the influence of alcohol culture on watching and playing cricket and rugby union.
  • Conducting data analyses, descriptive statistics and correlation analysis on the survey data, exploring whether the findings vary by socio-demographic factors such as gender and religion. 
  • Conducting further in-depth analyses of the survey data, using regression analyses and mediation analysis, to further examine the psychological processes involved in engagement of sport. 
  • Conducting thematic analyses on the transcripts from four focus groups.

Existing research tended to focus on how alcohol features in cricket, or in sports more generally. There was a gap in specific research literature about rugby, although the challenges that alcohol presents for cricket are likely to be similar.

  • Social alcohol drinking is embedded within every level of cricket, from youth and amateur to professional sport.
  • There is research evidence of a fractured system, with two different cricket cultures, one – with better facilities – involves primarily White players and the other – with poorer facilities – primarily British Asian.
  • Rather than post-match drinking being perceived as problematic, the blame is placed on people who do not participate, who are viewed as self-segregating.
  • A drinking culture can also act as a barrier to both children’s participation in sport and the number of British Asians in coaching positions.
  • As well as alcohol consumption, there are a number of other barriers to Muslim men and women taking part in sport.
  • There are ways in which professional sports clubs can make spectating and participating more inclusive for British Asian fans.

You can read the entire report, including a detailed breakdown of the methodology used, the behavioural analysis and recommendations here.

If you’d like to speak about the report or any of the themes that emerged through our work with Alcohol Change UK, we’d love to talk.