In the hyper-competitive Experience Economy where consumers are digitally-empowered, yet feel forever time starved, volunteerism is impacted, which means sport is impacted. Annual government funding in amateur sport also waining (statistically), this includes funding for sport administrators and their governing bodies. This funding freefall, is to the detriment of tomorrows sporting champions, our pride, and our competitiveness.
Ask yourself - How do you put a dollar value on the cry of Queenslander!! as the Maroons make their way down the tunnel to a State of Origin match, or the pride felt when a Queenslander receives an Olympic medal on the podium?
The ON-DEMAND Decade has seen a shift in loyalties embraced by the mobile-wielding masses, yet one constant is the love affair we have with all things sport. This loyalty sees the masses looking for scalps when it comes to lacklustre results, and often the failure can be traced back to the lack of government financial support for those who make the sacrifices and step up.
You might say sport provides us all with ‘Experience Theatres’ – yes physical infrastructure which provides a retreat from digital disruption that brings people together.
Queensland’s clubs are part of the local community, servicing members who range from five years old through to centenarians. Currently there are 4,216 clubs registered with the Queensland Government providing a social and physical outlet for millions of Queenslanders. These clubs present Queenslanders with a diverse range of over 125 types of activities - from Abseiling through to Yachting.
Similarly, these same clubs are the breeding ground for our State’s sporting elite – the venues and forums in which they find their passions and hone their skills. Without clubs in which to grow and develop we may never have heard of: Greg Norman, Wally Lewis, Kieren Perkins, Cathy Freeman, Susie O’Neill, Artie Beetson, Pat Rafter, Allan Border, Sally Pearson, Karrie Webb, Mick Doohan, or Anna Meares just to name a few.
Underpinning the operation of these Clubs are some 1,111 registered and licensed ‘community clubs’ which given waining government support, ensure the ongoing financial viability of these clubs through the provision of social contributions of both direct and indirect.
Community clubs (over 70% of them sporting) deliver hospitality and entertainment for their communities as part of their DNA, with surpluses derived from these operations often underpinning the sporting dream for Queenslanders, i.e. via the provision of facilities, equipment, sponsorship, subsidies, competition and more.
The social contribution made by community clubs can be categorised as follows:
• cash donations provided directly to the community or to community organisations, such as donations to local charities or community initiatives;
• direct in-kind donations to the community or to community organisations, which may include provision of meeting spaces or goods and services for community activities;
• in-kind support associated with the provision of sporting and recreational facilities at costs below market rates – such as subsidised court hire or green fees; and
• facilitation of volunteer labour, for instance volunteers associated with sporting sub-clubs.
Across Queensland the value of this social contribution is estimated to be worth around $853 million per annum, or around $770,000 per club. These contributions are made not only to clubs but across a broad spectrum of activities in the community – the provision of a meeting room for a political party branch meeting, a free bus run for the local school sporting team, a donation in kind to a local charity, and a cash donation for sporting equipment for a local sports club for example.
However, attempting to try and place a full dollar value on the contribution that ‘active clubs’ make to the Queensland economy is fraught with danger. In addition to the social contribution made by clubs are other factors to consider - such as all the volunteer hours undertaken by parents with their kid’s sports activities on the weekend, hiring team bus to travel to a regional competition, buying team uniforms etc.
If you say you are visiting a ‘club’ immediately some stereotypes come to mind. A $5 queue of folks bussed in from the local retirement village lined up for the $5 roast buffet, a couple of older blokes who appear to the rusted on to the bar stools in the corner sharing a beer and a couple of “regulars” staring vacantly at a bunch of one-armed bandits with their lights blaring away.
That may be the stereotype, but in Queensland the reality is different……much different.
What they also offer Queenslanders is something more, something you cannot put a dollar value on. They offer Queenslanders an outlet for their passions, an opportunity to socialise with their peers, and a chance to develop an espirit-de-corps. Again, I say - How do you put a dollar value on the cry of Queenslander!! You can’t – but it is something clubs deliver to people each and every day.
What’s more, you will find in the clubs of today the stars of tomorrow – those athletes who will represent us at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Registered clubs in Queensland boast around 2.4 million members, and it is also important to note that in many communities the club is an integral part of the social fabric of the local community. Take for example the dawn service held at your local RSL, an activity which unifies and unites the local community as we celebrate our heritage and recognises the contributions made towards our society.
In addition, clubs are also significant employers. Clubs across Queensland directly employ around 22,000 Queenslanders in a diverse range of functions such as gaming, food and beverage, facilities management and maintenance, finance and administration.
The most recent survey of community club’s employment practices found that each Club in Queensland had an average wages and salaries bill of $619,200, with employment types broken down into the following categories:
• full-time employees – 26%
• part-time employees – 8%
• casual employees – 64%
• trainees/apprentices - 2%
Community Clubs (just like sport) are a valuable part of the Queensland economy. Each year clubs in Queensland generate around $2.2 billion in revenue and pay $513 million in taxes, of which around 49% is associated with gaming operations, and a further 43% in GST – around $220 million.
But these figures are dwarfed in comparison to what isn’t measured – the value of club activities on the rest of the economy. What is the true value to the tourism sector of all the volunteer hours of club members patrolling Queensland beaches for example? What’s the value of travel, motel accommodation and dining arising from a Queensland club hosting a national or interstate tournament or championship with hundreds of competitors?
So, the next time you think of the word “club” I hope you look past the stereotype, and see just how important these institutions are to millions of Queenslanders and local communities across Queensland.
Also, next time you have the ear of your local political representative – suggest to them that sport funding should be a priority, and then leave them with the war cry - Queenslander!!