Dr Geoff Nichols
BA, MSc, MSc, PhD
Honorary Senior Lecturer
+44 114 222 2184
Full contact details
Sheffield University Management School
Geoff completed a BA Joint Honours in Economics/Sociology at the University of Durham.
He completed an MSc in Industrial Relations (by research and dissertation) in 1981 while working with a team at Strathclyde University, researching the impact of productivity bonus schemes.
In 1986, he completed an MSc in Sport and Recreation Management at Loughborough University and in 2004, was awarded a PhD from the University of Sheffield for his thesis, 'The impact of sports programmes on youth crime'. Geoff works at the University of Sheffield from 1990 to 2020, when he retired. He remains an active researcher.
8 years as an outdoor pursuits instructor; both for Outward Bound, and for Tameside Council, where he was a sports development officer
He is a keen mountaineer, rock climber and fell runner and lives in Sheffield. He helps with mountaineering and climbing training for the Scout Association.
- Research interests
Geoff's main research interests are volunteers in sports clubs and events; management of sports clubs run by volunteers and the volunteering legacy of sports events.
His research has included the volunteering legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games, a national survey of sports clubs in the UK (for the Sport and Recreation Alliance), research into how sports clubs recruit new volunteers (for Sport England) and the experience of volunteers at the 2021 Olympic Games. He has worked on two previous national surveys of sports clubs (both also conducted for Sport England). He produced a review of motivations of sport volunteers for Sport England in 2016. He has researched the community asset transfer of sports facilities and libraries, summarised in a review paper in 2020.
From 2009 to 2019, he chaired the UK Sports Volunteering Research Network. The network promotes research into sports volunteering through arranging network symposia and a newsletter. Network presentations and research resources are available on the Sports Volunteer Research Network website.
Sports Volunteer Research Network
Prior to 2007, Geoff's research focused on the relationship between sport and crime reduction, especially for young people. This was the topic of Geoff's PhD.
Geoff was involved in six major programme evaluations and two national surveys, including a survey for the Home Office, into physically demanding activities for probation service clients (1997/1998).
Much of this work was incorporated into his 2007 book Sport and Crime Reduction: The Role of Sports in Tackling Youth Crime, which was written for policymakers and academics.
Geoff has published over 60 refereed papers on these topics.
- Volunteer satisfaction in sports clubs: A multilevel analysis in 10 European countries. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 55(8), 1074-1093. View this article in WRRO
- The community asset transfer of leisure facilities in the UK: a review and research agenda. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 31(6), 1159-1172. View this article in WRRO
- Selling volunteering or developing volunteers? Approaches to promoting sports volunteering. Voluntary Sector Review, 10(1), 3-18. View this article in WRRO
- Researching mega-events under regulatory capitalism. Event Management, 22(6), 933-943. View this article in WRRO
- Watching the pennies and the people – how volunteer-led sport facilities have transformed services for local communities. Managing Sport and Leisure, 23(4-6), 277-292. View this article in WRRO
- It's a Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience and Opportunity—Deal with it! Volunteer Perceptions of the Management of the Volunteer Experience at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Event Management, 22(3), 389-403. View this article in WRRO
- The 2012 Olympic Ambassadors and sustainable tourism legacy. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25(11), 1513-1528. View this article in WRRO
- From public to volunteer library provision in the UK: lesson to be learnt – one size does not fit all. Voluntary Sector Review, 8(3), 343-353. View this article in WRRO
- Bowling even more alone: trends towards individual participation in sport. European Sport Management Quarterly, 17(3), 290-311. View this article in WRRO
- Localism and the Big Society: the asset transfer of leisure centres and libraries – fighting closures or empowering communities?. Leisure Studies. View this article in WRRO
- Volunteering and Income Inequality: Cross-National Relationships. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 28(1), 379-399. View this article in WRRO
- Volunteering in Community Sports Associations: A Literature Review. Voluntaristics Review, 2(1), 1-75. View this article in WRRO
- Talking 'bout my generation: generational differences in the attitudes of volunteers at the 2012 Olympic Games. Voluntary Sector Review, 7(2), 127-147. View this article in WRRO
- How sport governance impacted on Olympic legacy: a study of unintended consequences and the ‘Sport Makers’ volunteering programme. Managing Sport and Leisure, 21(2), 61-74. View this article in WRRO
- How much is enough? The love of money, and the case for the good life. Leisure Studies, 35(4), 505-506.
- Is the Asset Transfer of Public Leisure Facilities in England an Example of Associative Democracy?. Administrative Sciences, 5(2), 71-87. View this article in WRRO
- Measuring the formalization of community sports clubs: findings from the UK, Germany and Australia. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 7(2), 283-300. View this article in WRRO
- Volunteers in British Mountain Rescue: responding to increasing demand for rescues and a changed relationship with the state. Voluntary Sector Review(2), 213-230. View this article in WRRO
- The legacy costs of delivering the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games through regulatory capitalism. Leisure Studies. View this article in WRRO
- Youth sport volunteers in England: A paradox between reducing the state and promoting a Big Society. Sport Management Review. View this article in WRRO
- The Olympics: a critical reader. EDUCATIONAL REVIEW, 64(3), 401-404.
- Sports Clubs’ Volunteers: Bonding in or Bridging out?. Sociology.
- The Psychological Contract of Volunteers: A New Research Agenda. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations.
- Sports volunteering. International Journal of Sport Policy, 4(2), 155-157.
- The relationship between types of sports club and English government policy to grow participation. International Journal of Sport Policy, 4(2), 187-200.
- Determinants of sports volunteering and sports volunteer time in England. International Journal of Sport Policy, 4(2), 201-220.
- The rewards of individual engagement in volunteering – a missing dimension of the Big Society. Environment and Planning A: international journal of urban and regional research, 44(12), 2974-2987.
- Olympic Cities: 2012 and the remaking of London. LEISURE STUDIES, 31(3), 378-380.
- Lessons from the Volunteering Legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Urban Studies, 49(7), 169-184.
- Social inclusion through volunteering: The legacy potential of the 2012 olympic games. Sociology, 45(5), 900-914.
- The balance of benefit and burden? The impact of child protection legislation on volunteers in Scottish sports clubs. European Sport Management Quarterly, 10(1), 31-47.
- Social capital: reaching out, reaching in. LEISURE STUDIES, 29(1), 114-116.
- Understanding the management of sports events volunteers through psychological contract theory. Voluntas, 20(4), 369-387.
- Inequality and positional consumption: a fresh insight into debates in leisure studies on time pressures on leisure and volunteering, choosing a work/life balance and the nature of a ‘leisure’ society. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 1(3), 270-275.
- One size does not fit all: implications of sports club diversity for their effectiveness as a policy tool and for government support. Managing Leisure, 13(2), 104-114.
- Positive youth development through sport. LEISURE STUDIES, 27(4), 470-471.
- Volunteering in sport: the use of ratio analysis to analyse volunteering and participation. Managing Leisure, 11(4), 205-216.
- Stalwarts in Sport. World Leisure Journal, 47(2), 31-37.
- Pressures on the UK voluntary sport sector. Voluntas, 16(1), 33-50.
- Measuring the Impact of Crime Reduction Interventions Involving Sports Activities for Young People. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 43(3), 267-283.
- Crime and punishment and sports development. Leisure Studies, 23(2), 177-194.
- Measuring the impact of crime reduction interventions involving sports activities for young people. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 3(43), 267-283.
- Pressures on sports volunteers arising from partnerships with the central government. Loisir et Societe, 26(2), 419-430.
- The Full Sporty—the impact of a sports training programme for unemployed steelworkers. World Leisure Journal, 43(2), 49-57.
- A Research Agenda For Adventure Education. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 4(2), 22-31.
- Risk and adventure education. Journal of Risk Research, 3(2), 121-134.
- Redefining the recruitment niche for the guide association in the United Kingdom. Leisure Sciences, 21(4), 307-320.
- Developing a Rationale for Sports Counselling Projects. The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(2), 198-208.
- Is Risk a Valuable Component of Outdoor Adventure Programmes for Young Offenders Undergoing Drug Rehabilitation?. Journal of Youth Studies, 2(1), 101-115.
- METHODOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN EVALUATING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY PROGRAMMES FOR YOUNG OFFENDERS. World Leisure & Recreation, 42(1), 10-17.
- Local authorities' role in distributing the lottery to sport. Local Government Studies, 25(3), 1-15.
- Local Authority support to volunteers in sports clubs. Managing Leisure, 3(3), 119-127.
- THE ROLE OF SPORTS COUNSELLING FOR UNEMPLOYED YOUNG PEOPLE ON PROBATION. World Leisure & Recreation, 39(4), 23-26.
- A consideration of why active participation in sport and leisure might reduce criminal behaviour. Sport, Education and Society, 2(2), 181-190.
- The Impact of Compulsory Competitive Tendering on Planning in Leisure Departments. Managing Leisure, 1(2), 105-114.
- The impact on local authority leisure provision of compulsory competitive tendering, financial cuts and changing attitudes. LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES, 21(4), 607-622.
- CONTRACT SPECIFICATION IN LEISURE MANAGEMENT. LOCAL GOVERNMENT STUDIES, 21(2), 248-262.
- What can explain the differences between European countries’ public policies for sports clubs?. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 1-17.
- Volunteering in community sports organisations and associations. In Holmes K, Lockstone-Binney L, Smith K & Shipway R (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Volunteering in Tourism, Sport and Events London: Routledge.
- England: A Long Tradition, Adapting to Changing Circumstances, Functions of Sports Clubs in European Societies (pp. 93-120). Springer International Publishing
- Young offenders, risk and personal development programmes, Young People in Risk Society: The Restructuring of Youth Identities and Transitions in Late Modernity (pp. 22-40).
- Sport Clubs in England, Sport Clubs in Europe (pp. 111-130). Springer International Publishing
- The 2012 Ambassadors: Second- class Olympic volunteers, or the best potential for developing a volunteering legacy from the Games?, Event Volunteering: International Perspectives on the Event Volunteering Experience (pp. 154-164).
- Sport development: volunteers in sport, and social inclusion – Manchester Event Volunteers, The Research Process in Sport, Exercise and Health (pp. 214-230). Routledge
- Volunteering for the Games In Girginov V (Ed.), Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Volume two: Celebrating the Games (pp. 53-70). London: Routledge.
- Volunteers in sport, and social inclusion: Manchester Event Volunteers In Flemming R, Hanton S & Wilson K (Ed.), Research Process in Sport, Exercise and Health: The Experiences of Active Researcher (pp. 198-214).
- Volunteering as leisure, leisure as volunteering, Routledge Handbook of Leisure Studies (pp. 456-467).
- Voluntary sports clubs and sport development. In Hylton K (Ed.), Sports Development: Policy, Process and Practice (pp. 213-230).
- Volunteering for the Games In Girginov V (Ed.), The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Volume one: Making the Games (pp. 215-224). London: Routledge.
- Newham volunteers, United Kingdom: Developing a pool of event volunteers as part of a mega event legacy, Managing Volunteers in Tourism: Attractions, Destinations and Events (pp. 225-236).
- iGen: why today’s super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy – and completely unprepared for adulthood – and what that means for the rest of us. Leisure Studies, 37(2), 238-239.
- Leisure Studies. LEISURE STUDIES, 33(4), 434-436.
Conference proceedings papers
- Volunteer management at the 2012 Olympic Games: a tension between “programme” and “membership” management styles. Proceedings of the Eleventh International Symposium for Olympic Research (pp 110-115)
- Innovation during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Volunteers and Voluntary Sports Organisations in England. Research Report for Sport England.
- View this article in WRRO Social Inclusion and Volunteering in Sports Clubs in Europe; findings for policy makers and practitioners in England and Wales
- View this article in WRRO Sports club policies in Europe. A comparison of the public policy context and historical origins of sports clubs across ten European countries.
- Research group
Geoff is interested in supervising PhD students in the topic of volunteers in sport.
- Teaching activities
Geoff retired from teaching in 2020. Prior to this, he led an undergraduate level 3 module - MGT363: The Leisure Industry - and a level 2 module - MGT242: Research Methods. Both modules drew on his research and aimed to develop students' ability to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own learning.
From 1999 to 2005, he led an MSc in Sport and Recreation Management which developed to become one of the best in the world. The educational rationale was also to develop students' ability to think for themselves; take responsibility for their own learning; and prepare them for work in the leisure industry. This was described in the publication:
Nichols, G., Holmes, K. and Garrett, R. (Eds.) The vocational relevance of Leisure Management courses. Oxford: Oxford Brookes University LTSN. 2001.
This MSC, and related courses in the Leisure Management group at the University of Sheffield, led by a group of colleagues, had a significant impact on the development of teaching in this field of study.
- Professional activities and memberships
- Trustee and member of the steering group of the Voluntary Sector Studies Network
- Member of the editorial board of Voluntary Sector Review
- Member of the research advisory group for the Observatory for Sport in Scotland
- Reviewer for journals including: Voluntas, Voluntary Sector Review, Non-profit management and Leadership
- Invited to contribute to the Labour Party front bench discussion on sport and recreation in 2021
- Geoff was a founder member of the UK Sports Volunteering Research Network, which he chaired from 2009 to 2019. This network aims to link researchers and practitioners.
- He has formerly served as a board member of the journal Leisure Studies and on the Leisure Studies Association executive committee.