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The Value of Sport

Sport, what a fantastic concept.

A group of people getting together to have fun, make friends, and push each other in a supportive, like-minded environment.

For many people sport and exercise are a massive part of the weekly ritual. Forgetting about the busy schedule and having some fun for an hour or 2 a week have been proven time of time again to be beneficial.

Even since the time of the greeks philosophers such as Plato have stressed the value of exercise, healthy body healthy mind right. And making a few friends in the process, win win!

But what really is the value of sport?

£3 a week for a single class?
£7.50 a week for the gym?
£20 for cheap shorts & a gym top
£40 for a race entry?
£70 for running shoes?
£100 a year for a membership to an association?
£250 for a wetsuit?
£400 for a long race?
£2000 for a bike?
£5000 for a bike?

When does it end? Granted these are triathlon related costs, but rowing would cost me £300/400 a year comfortably before kit, and many are associated with high level sport, but even my parents have £400 bikes and regularly spend money on badminton courts, rackets, shuttlecocks, general equipment to be used with friends.
And it all stacks up. An average cost of almost £1000 a year for cycling,ci know people that could eat for quest with that. It’s no surprise that British sport estimate it would cost £2.7 billion a year to pay the volunteers that aid sport throughout the UK.

How do people afford it? Where does the money come from? Having just paid £700 to fly to Oklahoma for World Championships, £400 for Europeans and another £400 on the way for long distance Europeans in July, the money just seems to be none stop. And if you’re like most people my age, already in debt of over £30,000 to the government, these costs are crippling.

Ironman is reeling in £450 for each entrant to a race, £225 for halves. With consistent fields of over 2,000 participants, and run by volunteers we’re looking at almost £1,000,000 for subsidised nutrition, the winners purse, trophies and course related assistance. Doesn’t strike me as costing almost 1 million? With a field of 2,500 like Nice we’re comfortably over that margin.

Plus the bike and kit companies making an average of comfortably £2000 per competitor, yearly with the amount of gear floating around.

So what really is the value of sport?

The psychological and physiological benefits of weekly sport for 3 hours a week can be monumental. Taken from 2012 statistics, sports admissions, leisure class fees and equipment hire cost the average household £6.70 per week. Coming out at just shy of £350 a year. A small price to pay to have fun with your friends some might say? In comparison to rent, a car, food, it almost seems negligible. A small price to pay.

However it’s no secret that high level sportsman can be required to pay up to £500 for race entries regularly. And training races, for example marathons and half marathons aren’t exactly cheap at £40 a pop.

And is there an alternative? Probably not, sport will never be free, materials used will always cost money, things break, people get injured and need assistance, and I can’t propose any form of alternative. Although is it worth the thousands we spend a year, working hard to fund races we spend the rest of our lives working for. Lining the pockets of the organisers and staff involved. For the 4 hours Bath half is on for, it generates a turnover of roughly £600,000. And it’s not even a big race!

For young and upcoming athletes without grants, scholarships or sponsors costs can be up to £10,000 a year for travel, races, accommodation, kit. And parents/guardians are expecting to come up with this sum of money to support their children. Everyone knows every parents hates disappointing their child, and should a parent ever feel responsible for hindering or limiting their children’s sporting promise?

Let’s hope the sports and grant system holds strong!

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