ZB

Mike's Minute: Cost not the only barrier to participation in sport

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 1 Jul 2022, 9:39am

Mike's Minute: Cost not the only barrier to participation in sport

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Fri, 1 Jul 2022, 9:39am

There is a group called "Affordable Sports for Greater Wellington".  

That proves, apart from anything, there is clearly a group set up for everything and a weird name is no barrier to existence.

They have concerns over the councils charging for facilities. Their complaint appears to be, the more expensive you make sport, the less sport people will do, which appears to make perfect sense.

The deal in Wellington is the council charges 15 percent of the cost of providing sports fields and the ratepayer picks up the rest. On the surface seems perfectly fair, if not a little in favour of the sports. Not that Affordable Sports for Greater Wellington sees it that way.

We also know from Sport New Zealand that weekly sport participation is down 7 percent. So, if you tie those two things together, you can see the issue.

But, my suspicion is we are missing a couple of key ingredients. And in looking to get the council to foot more of the bill and therefore make sport cheaper, we have fallen into that age old hole of looking for someone else to fix our problem.

From my experience, and given I have five kids believe me I have a lot of it, cost isn't necessarily the barrier to organised sport, life is.

When I played football for the Rangers in Christchurch, rugby for Shirley, league for Linwood, or tennis for Edgeware, I walked. I walked to practice, mainly walked to games, and the away games we used a parental car pool.

But they were simpler times. They were times when we lived closer to the things we used. We don't do that anymore, not in the cities anyway. School finished at 3, you played a bit of sport, and you went home.

These days the kilometres required to participate in sport are inhibitive. The distance to clubs and fields is vast. Pressure from other aspects of our lives, rightly or wrongly, has overtaken us.

The ability to move in cities efficiently has gone and we have made the gathering of groups to kick a ball too hard, hence we don’t bother.

I doubt sport, per se, is down, just organised sport. Being able to go to the local tennis court, squash club or park is still real.

But the time and energy for parents is often a bridge too far. School demands more, especially at the higher NCEA levels. At a certain age you realise you aren't going to the Olympics so you move on.

There is a lot at play here; I've seen it over the past 15 years at our house.

Affordable Sports for Greater Wellington might just be looking at the wrong person to blame.