What does it cost to play your sport?

Research has shown that cost is one of the major barriers to participation in sport.

With this mind, it would be interesting to know how many administrators at sporting clubs actually understand what it costs to have a member participate at their club? I don’t mean how much each member pays you to participate, that’s too easy. I mean how much it costs you, as a club, for a member to come in and use your facility, equipment or whatever, in order to participate in your sport?

We have discovered over the years that a significant number of clubs when reviewing their membership fees for the coming season, simply add a percentage to the existing membership fee to cover for what they attribute to as Consumer Price Index (CPI). Now this may be 3%, 5% or even 10% depending upon the will of the committee at that time. As a result, the cost to the participant to play the sport has escalated to a point where it no longer makes the sport affordable and the participant is pressured into making a decision on whether to continue or stop. This scenario is further compounded where children are involved. Children will often request to play sports that their friends are playing, so it’s not unusual to have a healthy and active child involved in two maybe three different sporting activities. The costs can soon add up. Furthermore, consider the possibility that parents are also actively involved in their own club based sport, which can then create financial pressures that often lead to the parents forgoing their activities, so the children can continue to enjoy theirs.

Sporting club administrators and/or committees must have a thorough understanding of their costs. From this understanding, they should be able to ascertain the number of members they require to break even on these costs. Their strategic or forward planning will inform them on what they need to raise in the future to undertake the work in the plan and that also needs to be accounted for in the calculation.

Unfortunately, we are hearing all too regularly about clubs that have significant cash reserves well in excess of what they need or have plans for. In the meantime, the decline in membership at sporting clubs continues unabated. The costs of a sporting club membership needs to reflect the costs incurred by the club. We are aware of variances of up to $70 a season for junior membership fees in the same sport. Accounting for the fact that State Sporting Association affiliation fees are the same for each competition, the variance has to relate to the individual membership at a club level.

Sporting clubs need to provide an environment that is safe, healthy and inclusive to encourage ongoing participation. One way of achieving this is to ensure your members are getting value for money from their investment.



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