With much interest still being shown in the membership levels of sports clubs and involvement in sport in general after the London Olympics in 2012, after Lord Coe's promise that the event would inspire a generation to come afterwards, a new study by 'State of Play' was commissioned. Its findings suggest that around 1.8 million people are currently members of sports clubs in England. As an indication of the availability of events across the country for sportspeople to participate in, the study further determined that nearly three million sports competitions were held during 2014.

With 39 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) involved in the process of ensuring that sport is delivered and readily available to the masses in England, the study was carried out to form a check on how well this aim was progressing. The chief executives of the NGBs are involved in the NGB CEO Forum, which acts as an independent voice in order to provide appropriate information to shape national and local sports' policy. The findings suggested that some nine million people are actively involved in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity in a typical week.

Reacting to the findings, Professor Simon Shibli, who works at the Sheffield Hallam University and is an expert in the finance and economics of the sport industry, suggested that the report gives a good indication of "how much sport matters." Shibli was the leader for the study and seems to be pleased with its findings given that it seems to back up "the huge impact NGBs are making in the delivery of sport in England" at all levels of participation, whether that be the local community or on behalf of elite sport.

In a thinly veiled dig at the interest in politics by comparison to that for sport in the country, he added that "over one million more people belong to sports clubs than the combined total of all UK political party membership," indicating how much sport matters to the population.

Further data obtained through the study provided some interesting information regarding the healthy state of volunteering in sport, with an estimated value of £4.9 billion being attributable to volunteering that was linked to the various governing bodies.

In terms of the number of people linked to the NGBs that volunteered, the figure was a staggering 1.9 million. Shibli commented that the massive number of sports volunteers was "greater than the entire National Health Service workforce."

Of course numbers are one thing, the next step is clearly to both convert the big numbers at the elite level into sports success at such as the Olympics to come, but also, and perhaps most importantly, to ensure that the involvement in sport becomes reflected in an upturn in the health of the nation.