Friday, August 03, 2012

Cost of sport

Yey ! More golds and medals for Team GB today :-)

It's been great to watch them being won and it's still not getting old to stand for the national anthem when the medal ceremonies come on.

But ... and this is linked to a question someone asked on Steam - how much does it cost ?

The Steam question was wondering how much pain my credit card was feeling after the Steam Summer Sales :-) Actually not that much. It currently stands at £45, with the major part of that being Civ V and its expansion. I think I resisted fairly well and it let me avoid disappointments seen by people falling foul of Ubisoft's dubious DRM service. (More people need to boycott software with that DRM)

If you stick to the sales and avoid purchases that you'll get little or no benefit from (Battlefield 3 vs factory overclocked graphics cards ???) then things don't have to be unaffordable. I apply similar logic to munchies, if they aren't on offer, that makes the jaffa cakes and the Wispa Bites easier to resist. That £45 is the equivalent of 1.5 A List big budget games and I've picked up 8 separate games for that including 2 A List (Civ V & Borderlands) games.

However ... Compare that to in real life sport ...

Real sport equipment can cost a serious amount of money. My own experience extends only really to cricket, which can get quite expensive. Over the past couple of years, I've spent cash on :

Helmet - cricket only, £15 in a sale
Spikes - think these were £25 (sale again) but you could waste £100 on them
Knee supports - £28 each. EACH !
Kit bag - think this was around £20 ish last year and I got one of the smaller cricket bags
New bat - I didn't buy one but if I had ? £150 minimum for an English willow bat

What else ? I haven't bought batting gear since the nose job incident (I think!) but refreshed the gear after that. I think something psychological made me change all my gear after breaking my nose but - my pads disappeared into a team's kit bag and I'd been thinking about changing them anyway. If I remember right, pads and batting gloves cost about £15 each back then. Sales again :-)

I've also picked up sundry other bits and pieces this year - the Pink Cap cost a tenner, as did the pink bat grip from Lords.

You're probably asking - is all this kit absolutely essential ? Yes and no. Most cricket and other sports clubs will have a shared kit bag which people can dip into for games. I've lent out my bat and pads a few times this season. When I did archery (long time ago!), the bow and arrows I used came from the club.

However ...

Spikes or studs - utterly essential. These give an incredible amount of grip, it transforms the amount of power you can put into the ground with your legs. If you try to run on greasy ground in trainers, it's difficult. It's actually dangerous for me to try using full leg power on dewy grass, as any slip is usually followed by leg muscles complaining. It's near impossible for me to sprint on damp grass in trainers, as there simply isn't enough grip to allow that much leg power to be transmitted to the ground.

So we wear spikes or studs as appropriate to avoid injury and let us use the power in our muscles. And it's similar for the knee pads too : My leg muscles developed before my knees had the structural strength to contain their power. When I sprinted, it felt like my knees wanted to explode. So I took to wearing the knee pads in order to hold my knees together. It just so happens that they also allow me to take knocks involving cricket ball on knee.

Specialist gear - yes, I could borrow pads or bat but I prefer to get accustomed to my own. With archery, the olympic standard bows have all sorts of extra bits to make them balanced and more consistent. Sail boats, you gotta practice somehow.

Even the basics of shoes cost more than they really should.

But - the point I really want to make is - sport at a highly competitive level costs a hell of a lot :

Time - so many of the athletes have to make it their life, to the point where they cannot have a paying job.
Basics - shoes, outfits
Gear - racquets, bats, gloves
Special gear - how much does a boat cost ? A top level racing bike ?
Gym time - facilities cost money, training costs time

Top level sport costs so much in terms of money, sacrifice and sheer bloody minded dedication. Every athlete who's made it to the Olympics has paid so much in all 3 to get there. They've earned both their place and our support.

All of 'em.

But especially Team GB :-) (I'm biased)

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