Tab Investigates: The Cost Of Sport

Is sport just for the rich kids? The Tab looks at how much students must pay to follow their sporting dreams.


A key finding of the recent Sport Consultation Survey, to be discussed later today at the AMM, is that many students feel priced out of playing competitive sport alongside studying.

The report, authored by VP Hannah Pollak, states “financial barriers are acting as a very real problem to many students enjoying the University’s sport facilities”.

The university’s next step could be crucial. Earlier this year, the removal of pay-as-you-go sports membership led to student protests until the decision was reversed. The message now is to offer students as much ‘value for money’ as possible.

Easier said than done. Take the cost of a Sport and Activity pass, for example. A one-year peak membership card costs £250. Whilst priced competitively, it doesn’t take much looking around to find 24-hour gyms offering membership that’s up to fifty pounds less.

Cheaper gym membership is easy to find in Bristol

Any hope fees might be lowered in the future has already been dismissed by the university, with Director of Sport Simon Hinks claiming facilities wouldn’t meet demand.

Should you hope to play sport competitively at university, the costs just keep rising. Whilst some sports are subsidised, allowing students to play for relatively little, others require deep pockets and one hell of an overdraft.

Comparing student expenditure on sport, tennis proved to be one of the priciest. Katrina Smith, who represents the University, says the fees have “put a lot of her friends off”.

“A tennis racket costs £100 and if you’re breaking a string around twice a month, that is around £25 to replace for each one, which adds up to £50 a month”.

The money needed to play piles up quickly. Katrina told The Tab how her tennis shoes rarely last more than a few months before they need to be replaced. As well as going through several pairs of shoes a year, there’s also other kit, which Katrina estimates ‘costs up to £70’ each year.

As if that wasn’t enough, players are made to purchase gym membership, even if they never intend to use the ‘Pulse’ suite. Money must also be paid to hire a tennis court, and there’s an annual ‘team’ membership fee to cover coaching and balls.

Despite all these costs, there’s seemingly no financial support or subsidy given by the University to tennis players.

Being the next Laura Robson doesn’t come cheap…

Tennis isn’t the only sport to demand a lot of a student’s wallet. Fencing enthusiasts have to shell out £288 for a starter kit, with equipment costs rising close to £1000 should they want to enter competition.

That’s on top of approximately £450 each year towards fees, gym membership and insurance.

Sailing is just as bad, though there is some respite for those lucky enough to get sponsorship. Those who don’t can expect to pay around £450 a year to get on the water.

Later today, several Sports motions will be discussed at the AMM, with many focusing on reducing costs for students. These figures would suggest there’s quite some way to go before all sports are easily affordable for students.

*Cheaper gym passes are available if bought for off-peak times or multiple yearsmeaning cost can drop to £150 or £200. However, the majority of students interviewed by The Tab purchased the £250 pass.

**American Football players are not required to buy a Sports Pass in order to play for the team

How much does your sport cost to play? Let us know how much you’re forking out each year in the comments below.