What is the main barrier for participation? – Money in Sport: Pricing out the masses

Throughout the history of sport there have been barriers that have stopped people from participating. Sonny Snelling finds out whether money is the main barrier and if class is on the decline.

Money is a major influence in sport, but there are other factors that have an important effect on participation.

A BBC article from 2016, which had figures from Sport England said that there has been a significant drop in sporting activity since London 2012 despite the Olympic Games’ pledge to “inspire a generation”

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The overall view of the country sees a decline in sports activity, but areas such as the South East who are more prosperous have seen a rise.


They showed that 15.8 million people play sport or exercise at least once a week, which was a drop of 8,700 (0.4%) since 2012.

Sport England said the data showed a big decline among ethnic minorities and economically- deprived groups.

These factors are a few more that seem to hold people back in the sports that they love.

Psychologist Professor Jan Burns is a campaigner for disabled athletes and wants change to the gender split in sports.

She has noticed a shift in society regarding sports participation.

Listen to the full interview here.

She said: “I think there has been a shift in many different directions.

“The sports federations have paid more attention in developing grassroots and access and exclusivity which has worked for a rise in opening areas for more working-class sections of society.

“But I think the economics of it actually pushes the opposite direction.

Jan Burns has noticed a shift in society’s attitude towards class in sport. However in her opinion money, gender and disability are still barriers.

“I think we have two forces trying to work in opposition because generally we know sports are becoming more expensive.”

Apart from class and money Professor Burns highlighted other factors dominating participation.

She said: “Health is one issue.

“Sporting federations are taking social responsibility as a much more important aspect of what they’re doing and with that comes a requirement to be able to demonstrate that they are reaching different minority sections and disadvantaged groups within society.

“Money is an increased barrier.

Alli & Duggan
Professor Barns still thinks the gender split in sports is massive. Pictured: Tottenham’s Dele Alli and Toni Duggan for England

“If you look at the gender spilt between sports, there’s still massive difference there.”

“People are now seeing sport connected to the health agenda as in physical and mental health and it’s positive they are questioning the gender split.”

Golf is a sport where especially in the past class played a huge role.

Josh Bristow is pro-amateur golfer aiming for the big time.

He wants more done to make it affordable for less fortunate people who want to turn pro.

Watch the full interview with Josh here:

He said: “Golf clubs have had a decline in membership so they have had to lower their fees to allow more members to come, so they can survive.

“We’ve had a mix of both (classes) coming in so it’s good.”

A year’s membership for Josh at Canterbury Golf Club is £1000. With the cheapest being £350. This does not consider what he pays for equipment and to compete.

He said: “The only way it (money) gets in the way of competitive golfers is because of the fees to compete, travel and for accommodation.

“All of those things add up.

“The English AM cost me over £600 and that wasn’t even getting to the final.”

Josh has one main problem with golf and moneys influence on it.

The fact that youngsters are under pressure when entering the sport.

He said: “You could have the next tiger woods coming through from a completely different background if they didn’t have the chance to play the sport.

Josh has problems with the money that has come into golf, but knows due to class it will always be present.

“That barrier is coming down.

“I do think this is another issue in golf.

“A lot of youngsters turn pro a lot earlier, because it’s easier to get a sponsor by saying you’re a professional.

“Where as an amateur golfer you don’t get money it’s all for pride and trying to make your way up the ladder of success.”

The obstacle of class in sport is one that is breaking down, but money is still a dilemma.

Other factors still to be broken down are gender, age, race and disability.

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