For (Rory Clarke)

The funding of sports clubs in UCD is a vicious circle, which should be perpetuated no longer. Currently the clubs with the largest memberships, who compete in the most competitions, are allocated the largest grants from UCD through the Athletics Union Council (AUC). The allocation of sports funding in proportion to members is, on the surface at least, a reasonably fair and logical system. However viewed in light of the special environment that is a 3rd level institution in Ireland, it does not stand up. University is designed to spread different ideas and promote heterogeneity, rather than simply maintain the status quo.

 

The current prioritisation of competition-oriented teams is demonstrated by the policy of the AUC to subsidise travel costs for competitive matches/intervarsities but not for those ‘outdoor pursuits’ clubs who, by necessity have to travel every single week to train/play. This means trips for purposes of recreation is not deemed valid for funding by the AUC. Clubs like mountaineering and windsurfing who fundamentally rely on being outside, are inherently disadvantaged by the current system, introduced in 2017.

 

There is clear dichotomy between those clubs which are prioritised by the AUC. According to a report published by The College Tribune in 2017/2018 academic year, the men’s rugby club received grants to the tune of €85,600 (or 22% of the overall grant amount). Conversely seven clubs received less than €1,000. In fact the inaccessibility of UCD funding for many small clubs is such that 20% of clubs did not even attempt to make a grant application, knowing they would likely be refused.

 

Those clubs who received the largest grants from the AUC are often sponsored by wealthy external parties, who contribute massively to the day-to-day running costs of the club. The rugby club for example is sponsored by national companies such as AIB and Crowe Accountancy. This is a luxury that the smaller clubs could only dream of.

 

The opposition will argue that each person is worth the same, regardless of their choice of sport and thus clubs should be funded according to their membership. Notwithstanding the fact that I don’t agree with this, due to the special environment of UCD and our collegiate duty to promote smaller sports, this isn’t even the case. Last year, UCD Badminton Club received €3,231.50 with a membership of 241. This equates to approx. €13.35 per person. Conversely, UCD Rugby Club’s grant amounted to approx €138 per person, with 620 members. Are rugby players really 10 times better than badminton players?

 

These clubs are already exercising their numerical advantages with increased revenue from memberships and sponsors, relative to those smaller clubs they simply don’t need the exorbitant AUC grants. As the old saying goes: there is more to college than academics. In sporting terms: there is more to sport than winning, and the AUC should recognise this by giving smaller clubs an equal platform, at least to begin with, to spread their sporting message.

 

Rebuttal against equal fees (Colman Stanley)

For a large portion of the opposition’s argument, he fails to address the motion we are meant to be arguing. As I clearly reiterated, the motion is not ‘should the distribution of AUC grants be changed?’, the motion is purely discussing whether all clubs should have equal funding.

The opposition also states that “the opposition (myself) will argue that each person is worth the same, regardless of their choice of sport and thus clubs should be funded according to their membership.” As you can see from my argument I do not agree with this sentiment. I acknowledge that some sports are just better, and provide better services to the college and its students, and that funding should reflect this. The external sponsorship the rugby club receives also reflects this, and they should not be punished, by having their AUC grants cut, because they have successfully acquired this external funding.

The opposition argues that smaller clubs do not have an equal platform ‘to spread their message’. All of the sports clubs are allowed a seat at the sports expo at Freshers Week. Making posters and advertising through social media costs very little. Some clubs do not have the same popularity or numbers, not because they can’t spread their message, but because people are just not as interested in participating in them. And there is nothing wrong with being a small club. They are tight knit and passionate communities who provide excellent services and enjoyment to their members.

 

Against (Colman Stanley)

Generally when debating you have to think like the other side. What will be their strongest points? How do I counter them? For this particular motion I genuinely cannot think of any reasonable argument in favour of equal funding to all UCD sports clubs. Could the allocation of funding be improved? Perhaps, but that is not what is being argued. What is being argued is that sepak takraw should be allocated the same funds as rugby.

 

The sympathetic cause of the small sports club should hold no weight over pragmatism and common sense. If you think that is being harsh, then I think you need some perspective. They are, after all, just sports clubs, not minority groups. Furthermore, the college has never claimed to be an institute where all the wealth is spread equally, regardless of circumstance. It does however, portray itself as an institute of global stature and prestige, and one that will work to further itself in those areas. That work does not include forsaking clubs such as cycling, GAA, or rugby, so that small clubs can feel more important.

According to the College Tribune, the rugby club are allocated with €85,600, over 22% of the entire allocated funds, and the highest amount of any club. This would mean that if the wealth was distributed evenly, then each club would receive roughly €7,842. You have to ask what would smaller clubs (any of the eight martial arts clubs, pool and snooker, handball, trampoline, caving and potholing etc.) do with this all this money? Many of these smaller clubs do not require expensive equipment, and most already have whatever essential equipment is needed. They could be afforded the luxury of travel expenses to meets and competitions, and still have plenty of money left over. You also have to ask the question, what would the rugby club do with this lack of funding? A club boasting some of the best young talent in one of the country’s most popular sports. It also hosts a hugely popular tag rugby program, one of the best sports for male and female co-participation. The campus recently co-hosted the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. You can forget about this incredible success were their funding to be cut. The same can also be said for other popular and prestigious clubs such as cycling, rowing, and GAA, and hockey.

Sport also provides entertainment, the more popular a sport, generally the more entertainment it brings. UCD has a duty to fans of these well funded sports, so they can see elite quality athletes performing at their best. Ladies hockey, who receive the second most funding, are a good example of this. During the summer our international team brought joy to the nation when they reached the World Cup Final. UCD played its part in this, with it being home to a handful of players, including captain Katie Mullan, and the national stadium, to which UCD Sport is providing substantial funding for its upgrade.

Lastly, health benefits, both mental and physical, cannot be ignored. These more popular and accessible clubs provide these benefits, and need larger funding to continue to do so as best they can.

Rebuttal for equal fees (Rory)

“Could the allocation of funding be improved? Perhaps”.
The opposition states confidently that this is not the issue at stake, but to put it bluntly – it is. The argument is to change the funding with the aim of bringing about a more positive outcome – the definition of improvement. The example of sepak takraw and rugby is just that, an example, albeit an illustrative one.

As noted, not all clubs will need equal funding. I am not proposing that money should be left to sit idle in bank accounts or be spent wildly. Financial decisions shall of course still be overseen by senior treasurers, so there is no question of clubs spending simply because they have money to burn. That is not to say that they should not have the right of first refusal. That is not to say that they should not have their most fundamental costs covered without undue stress being placed on them.

“Global status and prestige” comes from an attitude of generosity and open-mindedness, promoting the activities of all, rather than an exclusive few.

It has been pointed out, truly, that UCD Rugby club boasts many of the country’s most promising talents. However, the follow-on conclusion, that this would be impossible without disproportionate grants, is a fallacy. Rugby on campus is propped up by the nation’s most successful professional club, Leinster. Those who are good enough shall continue to be good enough, although potentially in a provincial rather than collegiate set-up.

Lastly, it is incredibly insulting to insinuate that the only sports that have any health benefits are those largest and most popular across the country.