At college, many students look to club sports to find friends and a sense of community. Club sports are so important for students because it not only provides opportunities to stay active but also allows them to continue playing the sport they love or to find love for a new sport.
But for many students, money is a huge barrier in getting involved with a club sport. The only direct funding that club sports get from the University of Maine is through student government funding, but even this is not guaranteed. In order to get funding from student government, clubs must complete a certain amount of volunteer hours, raise a certain amount of money and host a certain amount of specific events, among other requirements.
Sometimes it is even difficult for students to have time to make it to practices, let alone volunteer or plan and attend these events. But if clubs don’t have people willing to do this then all travel, equipment, lodging, registration and other fees must be paid out of pocket.
One of the big differences between D1 sports and club sports is that club sports are open to all, no matter your experience or talent. This inclusive environment can foster an important outlet for students who are juggling the stress of college.
That is why UMaine the university must invest in club sports in order to block some of the financial barriers that students may have. Students should have the opportunity to participate in any sport that they want without having to worry about whether they will be able to afford it.
The club sports at UMaine have been very successful. Just this past year the men’s rugby club competed at the 2022 Collegiate Rugby Championship. In 2019, the men’s crew club finished fifth at the Grand Final at the New England Rowing Championships.
If more clubs were to receive more funding from UMaine, they could get more practice time, travel more and get more people involved. With more money put into club sports, the university would see more success and participation come out of them.
With the decline of student enrollment for 2022 at UMaine, the university should be looking for ways to remain competitive and relevant. Putting more money into club sports could be a way to do this. Not all athletes get to play D1 but UMaine could still attract other athletes with the promise of accessibility to play any club sport of their choosing.
The value of participating in a club sport often gets overlooked but it can be one of the most rewarding experiences through college. It is not only benefiting students physically but also mentally. Being able to do a sport you enjoy without any other stress can be extremely important for a student’s mental health.
According to NPR, a study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention collected data from 1.2 million adults and found that those who played team sports reported the fewest days of bad mental health.
If students have better mental health they will have an overall more positive college experience and are likely to do better academically. Therefore, putting more money into club sports will improve mental health and not only benefit the students but UMaine as well.