Let the flyaways begin.
It’s a well-known fact that government or public schools do not have as great access to facilities and resources as private schools, but in a nation that prides itself on its great sporting achievements, shouldn’t all schools have access to the same sport choices?
After all, high schools are hotbeds of talent and are where the future Australian Olympians will come from. If this is the case, perhaps it would be smarter to invest money in early development rather than leaving it until well after school.
The government-run Sporting Schools program aims to provide schools with adequate funding to run a sport program, but this is only very entry-level – it’s enough to pay the wages of a few coaches. The program website even says “Funding amounts are usually between $1000 and $3100 per term”.
Sure, this is enough to run a few rugby or football teams, but not every student wants to play those sports. What about the students who want to ski, play basketball, go rifle shooting, play volleyball or tennis or even go rowing? These are the students who are missing out, the ones who don’t want to play the stock-standard sports but have no choice in the matter.
Sporting clubs are a counter to this, that is true. Students at public schools could join local sporting clubs and participate in the sports they want to play from there. But that raises the question of students who cannot afford to join such clubs. Students from a low socio-economic backgrounds may not be able to afford the often costly joining fees and may miss out on the sports at which they could be very talented. A large percentage of low socio-economic students could be missing out on sports or just being active in general.
There are potentially more benefits to increased funding for sports than simply sporting achievements. There can also be significant health benefits – it’s a well-known fact that being active can increase your quality of life and overall life span by a great deal, great news in a nation with a worryingly increasing trend of obesity.
Sport also has a massive number of other benefits – teamwork, mateship and comradery are just a few of these. Sport could also help to keep young people who are more at risk of doing dangerous things for thrills out of danger by doing something more productive. A scheduled, structured and enjoyable activity could be the very thing they are looking for.
I decided to put forward the question, “Why aren’t public schools receiving more funding for sports?” to the state Minister for Sport, Stuart Ayres, but given the fact this piece was written at the height of the election, the minister’s office understandably declined to comment.
However, and I’m sure most people would agree, boosting funding for sports at school should be a bit higher up the agenda of the government and would make for a refreshing change of pace from the usual arguments about hospitals and infrastructure projects.
As this is an opinion piece, there will naturally be the inevitable debate over whether or not I am qualified to comment on aspects of the government’s budget. However, I am passionate about the benefits of sport and increasing funding for public schools, and I am firmly of the belief that the benefits of this outweigh the costs.
Besides, if the potential for the glory of national sporting achievements isn’t enough, there are always the health benefits for a young generation that is more active.