If passed, the Club Sports Spirit Initiative will increase quarterly student fees to fund club sports on campus. Student fees will increase by $2 per quarter next academic year and will increase by $0.50 per quarter every year until it caps at $7 per quarter for the 2024-2025 school year. The fee will sunset in the 2039-2040 school year, by which time it will have to be reapproved by the student body. The initiative would alleviate some of the financial burdens faced by students who participate in club sports.
Club sports provide students the opportunity to participate in athletics without having to compete at the NCAA level. They have an inclusive mindset to accept everyone who is willing to participate. Currently club sports are financed through an initiative from 1997, which provides them with funding of $0.25 per student, but this fee has not kept up with inflation.
Since 1997, club sports have expanded to 10 times its size in members. The current budget from the 1997 initiative produces about $17,000 for the 36 clubs to share. In order to fill the gap in the budget, club sports teams fund the program through fundraising and club dues. Club sports have ended up turning people away because of inability to pay dues. The initiative would alleviate the financial burden from teams and student participants.
“My dues have been between $300 to $350 a year just to play rugby, a sport that I love to represent my school, which I also love,” Anthony Wong, a fifth-year history major and vice chairman of the UCI Club Sports Executive Council, said. Wong has helped to organize a campaign to raise support for the initiative titled “Let Anteaters Play.” It will consist of banners posted around the ARC and a social media campaign (#eatersplay).
Club sports provide necessary life skills for participants such as budgeting, time management and leadership opportunities, according to Wong. Unlike NCAA sports, club sports are entirely student-led. Leaders of the teams are responsible for preparing a yearly budget, hiring a coach, taking care of insurance and travel.
“We travel to places like Arizona State and Cal Poly SLO – slowly all this money adds up,” Wong said.
“The role that club sports plays in the students that are involved is very important,” Wong said, “the problem is we have 1700 members, 36 clubs.”
Club sports provide a variety of sports not found in the NCAA, such as dragon boat and fencing. It provides students with the opportunity to have new experiences and become a part of a community. It can be recreational or competitive depending on what the participant chooses to make of it.
“We don’t hold tryouts,” Wong said. “We accept everyone who wants to play our sports.”
“I want my legacy to be here that one day my rugby team will be able to buy uniforms and train coaches that I wish we had.”