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Sports Survey 2014: Results and analysis

Jamie Summers and Tom Fennelly reveal the results of the Nouse Summer Sports Survey, analysing what the data say about sports participation and facilities at the University

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We reveal the results of the Nouse Summer Sports Survey, conducted in conjunction with the York Sport Union, analysing what the data say about sports at the University. The survey was split into four sections, including Participation, Facilities, Discrimination and Non-Participation.

Image: Kate Mitchell
Graphics: Kate Mitchell


Participation



Of all students to take part in the Survey 95 per cent of the respondents were undergraduates.

This is reflected in the colleges of the respondents. Unsurprisingly, over 60 per cent of responses came from Derwent, James and Vanbrugh colleges alone, while at the other end of the scale, only three per cent were Wentworth students.

The overwhelming majority of those who responded were from the United Kingdom (94 per cent), with the split in gender being 60 per cent male and 40 per cent female. Meanwhile, 86 per cent of responders considered themselves to be heterosexual, while three per cent identified as gay and three per cent as bisexual; none of the respondents identified as lesbian or queer.

Some obvious survey bias came into play; 84 per cent of those who took part said they compete in sport at the University.

While in reality the true figure clearly won't be this high, it still offers an insight into the opinions of sportspeople on campus. As high as 11 per cent of all responders said that they suffer from asthma, which can impact upon ability to compete in high-energy sports.

When sports participants were quizzed on what the most enjoyable aspects of being a member of a sports club are, there was a wide range of answers; the most common were 'being part of a team', and 'meeting friends', which were included in 17 per cent of answers. Other factors, such as maintaining fitness, playing sport competitively and going on club socials were also very popular responses.

The most fascinating responses involved related to the least enjoyable aspects of sports club membership. 41 per cent of participants found the financial cost of playing sport a problem. Other common issues included inconvenient schedules of training and competitive matches (25 per cent) and general time commitments whilst juggling a degree (12 per cent). Some of the most notable comments included complaints over insufficient funding and Postgrads feeling unwelcome.

Sporting Facilities



Approval for York's sports facilities are high, with the most common rating being seven out of ten, while almost a fifth of those who took part saw fit to award eight out of ten. No-one saw fit to give York Sport's facilities full marks.

The most popular sporting infrastructure on campus is mainly new facilities, including the 3G pitch and the New JLD. Another popular feature of the York Sport landscape is gym equipment, which suggests that the new developments on both campuses, including a velodrome, basketball pitches, athletics track and pavilion, will be welcomed by York's sportspeople.

The swimming facilities at the Sports Village are considered to be amongst the best elements of what is on offer at York, although it was also questioned why the Canoe and Canoe Polo clubs are not currently allowed access to the pool, which increases the club's training costs. The new physiotherapy service was also favoured by students, with 38 per cent suggesting they would be prepared to pay between six and ten pounds per session for the service. Sixty nine per cent of all of those who took part either strongly or somewhat agreed that sports facilities have improved at the University over the past year.

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Looking forward, over a fifth of all respondents said that they would like to see more indoor facilities, such as the Tent and Sports Hall, to be developed in the future to enable a greater number of clubs to train on a regular basis. Equally as common were suggestions that more AstroTurf/3G pitches are required, and that the quality of grass pitches on 22 Acres needs to be improved. It was also suggested that many clubs, including the dancing, cheerleading, trampolining and gymnastics clubs would all benefit from the fitting of a spring floor in the Sports Hall, and tumbling equipment.

Increasing the number of non-competitive teams and training sessions was a common suggestion for future developments, while there were also concerns that the cost of taking part in sports was putting some students off. Many respondents argued for more work to be done to integrate minority students into clubs, with a general consensus that some groups still feel on the fringes of the sporting scene at the University. However, there was also a broad recognition that efforts are being made to increase participation by York Sport.


Discrimination



When asked if they had experienced or witnessed any incidents of racial discrimination in sports clubs at York, 93 per cent of respondents said that had not seen any such incidents. However, around six per cent said that they had. One comment that this was more likely to be "casual racism" because "York is very white". Another comment argued that it was "very much a societal problem, not just York; but it's more than in some areas of the country".

As for homophobic discrimination, the amount who had witnessed or experienced homophobia in a sports club almost doubled (13 per cent) on the racism figures. Although some comments made clear that homophobia was not a problem, others highlighted that there were certain clubs who were particularly victimised, mainly by members of other clubs; some difficulties were aired about the stereotyping of female rugby players as lesbians, while there were equal concerns on behalf of male cheerleaders, who were stigmatised as gay.

Seventeen per cent of respondents reported that they had felt intimidated or pressurised into an uncomfortable situation in a sporting context at York. Again, although the vast majority of responses felt that clubs were "welcoming" and "accommodating"; however, there were worries about the singling out of individuals at trials.

In terms of sports socials at York, 80 per cent said that they enjoyed sports socials. Fifteen per cent said that they neither agreed nor disagreed, whilst 3 per cent somewhat disagreed. No respondents strongly disagreed that sports socials were always enjoyable. Some commented that there was "too much pressure to drink and that they tend to be "quite 'cliquey' and it can be intimidating to new members". "Also," added another response, "if you hate fancy dress then you will always be excluded from the socials".

When asked whether the Key Contacts Scheme had helped to improve participation amongst LGBTQ/disabled students to get involved in sport at York, the majority of students (55 per cent) selected that they were 'not sure' on the scheme and 23 per cent neither agreed nor disagreed, most probably because they were not aware of what it is.

Five per cent said that is had not helped improve LGBTQ and disabled student participation, whereas 16 per cent said that it had. Many students welcomed the development but added that it was difficult to answer if they were not a LGBTQ or disabled student. Other comments made further recommendations, which included having a welfare officer on each club committee and discounted rates at the gym for students struggling with mental health issues.

Non-participation



The most popular reasons as to why some students were not involved in sports at York were limited to three clear answers: either they did not have enough time (27 per cent), there was a lack of faith in their own ability or because they didn't feel welcome (both 24 per cent).

When asked whether any personal characteristics (age, gender, nationality or disability) affected a lack of involvement, 10 per cent cited disability as the cause, whereas the other three characteristics remained untouched.

Fifteen per cent cited another reason that the ones that we listed, with the other 75 per cent stating that none of these or similar characteristics affected their involvement in sports.

We listed a number of ideas that might encourage students to get involved in sports, with none of the options becoming a clear favourites from responses.

'More relaxed training sessions' was the most popular response at 22 per cent, followed by 'beginners'/non-competitive squads' (20 per cent), being made to feel more welcome (18 per cent) and 'smaller time commitment' (16 per cent). 8 per cent felt that there should be less emphasis on socials and events.




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