Universität Bielefeld

© Universität Bielefeld

Institute for
Interdisciplinary Research
on Conflict and Violence

University Sports and Social Integration



This project focuses on university sports as an arena of social integration. While students exercise, compete or simply improve their health and physical fitness, they also meet new acquaintances, practice team behavior and enjoy a way to engage in social learning from trainers and peers. Given that 100,000 students participate in university sports in Germany  every single day, this is a tremendous opportunity to research social integration.

Social groups such as genders, classes and ethnic groups are known to participate unequally in sports on one hand and in educational offers on the other hand. E. g., women and ethnic minorities are less present in sports clubs. While young females are overrepresented in German universities as compared with males, many ethnic minorities lag behind in tertiary education. We thus investigate the interplay of social variables and students motives determining participation in university sports. One of the initial findings is a rather high proportion of female students that leaves behind female participation in sports clubs. This is the subject of Working Paper no. 1, Exploring Gender Disparity in Participation at University Sports, where we discuss gendered participation motives.

Future research by the project will scrutinize longitudinal effects of university sports participation in order to separate possible self-selection biases from participation effects proper. The focus will be on what integrative effects university sports possess and whether this is distinct from other university courses. To this end data from a panel sample of participants will be compared with a sample of all students.



A sample of 494 single unique university sports participants was interviewed twice in summer semester 2017: at the beginning and at the end of sports courses. We used a standardized questionnaire available in English and German versions. For details see Working Paper no. 1. Additional data were collected for teachers and trainers.





Exploring Gender Disparity in Participation at University Sports

University Sports and Social Integration Project: Technical Report