South Africa’s political past was characterised by racial discrimination enforced through the Government's policy of apartheid. This resulted in international sanctions against South Africa in every
facet of society including participation in the Olympic Games. A whole generation of South African sportspeople, therefore, lacked opportunities to compete internationally. South Africa was
reinstated into the international sporting arena in the 1992 Barcelona Games, providing the first opportunity for a diverse, democratic nation to participate.
The status of and reasons influencing school learners’ sport participation in a diverse South African context has, however, not been researched and therefore calls for justification. The study aimed
to investigate the status of school learners’ sport participation in South Africa and to explore on the underlying reasons for sport participation.
This qualitative and descriptive study uses the Lifestyle Questionnaire, developed by the International Council on Sport Sciences and Physical Education as research instrument. It was administered to
a stratified sample of 2000 school learners between the ages of 12 and 15 years including diverse cultural groups in Tshwane, South Africa.
Both boys and girls in the different age and cultural groups agreed that self-actualization (83.4%); enjoyment of competency (81.5 %); striving towards physical fitness (81.4 %), being part of a team
(78.4 %) and the feeling of fun, enjoyment and excitement (75.1 %%) were the most important reasons for sport participation. The most important reasons for stopping sport participation include no
enjoyment and loss of interest (19.1 %); clashes with other sporting codes (11.8 %), and time constraints (9.8 %).
It is concluded that mass participation and involvement in sport as an extramural activity in the South African school system also remains an ideal.
It is therefore recommended that motivation for sport participation should be a collective effort of government, society, parents and school. The school subject of Life Orientation in the South
African education dispensation could serve as a fundamental facilitator of sport participation.