Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 153 October 2022 | Page 20

SAYS sport man says by MANFRED SEIDLER


SAYS sport man says by MANFRED SEIDLER

Time to Rethink How the Sport is Run

The ugly head of COVID is forcing runners in South Africa to rethink how they approach the sport of road running . An unsustainable model has come crashing down on social runners , but the same applies to the national federation , Athletics South Africa ( ASA ), and its affiliated provincial bodies .
With lower entries and increased costs , many races have had to do things differently in 2022

For years , the basic structure of the sport of athletics was as follows : The clubs have members who pay club fees and provincial license fees each year . While the club keeps the membership fees to fund its operations and activities , the license fees are income for ASA . Furthermore , clubs pay a portion of their race income over to the running province they fall under – in the case Central Gauteng Athletics ( CGA ), clubs pay 10 % of their race entry fees over to the province , while in some other provinces , I have heard that this figure is apparently as high as 40 %.

In addition , the Temporary License fees paid by unlicenced runners when they enter an event go to the province , after the amount that is due to ASA has been subtracted . In other words , all licenses ( temp and club ) are purchased from ASA , and the provinces add a figure to the Temporary License Fee that ASA charges them , with the difference going to the province .
In essence , these fees are all a tax that is paid over to the provincial and national bodies , very much along the same lines as municipal , regional and national government tax that the population of South Africa pay . In athletics , this tax is paid by runners , more than 90 % of whom are non-elite , non-competitive social runners , and is used for the administrative costs and salaries at the various athletic bodies , as well as to fund teams ( provincial or national ) to attend various championships . These taxes also pay for insurance , as runners who are paid-up licensed club members are insured under the auspices of ASA , and if you are injured while running , either in training for a race or at a race , or even on your way to a race , there is some form of compensation available .
In some provinces , the maximum entry fee allowed at races is regulated . In other words , clubs may not charge more than X for a 10km , Y for a half marathon and Z for a marathon . In addition , some provinces stipulate the amount of prize money to be paid out by an event . Of course , one can understand why a province would want to ensure that entry fees stay affordable so that those who are less fortunate can still run , but It also means that the province doesn ’ t lose out on potential income . The nett result is that races have to have a financial sponsorship just to break even , never mind make some money out of the event to pay for club facilities , activities and development initiatives .
The COVID Bombshell
The effects of the pandemic have effectively put paid to what was always an unsustainable model . In my opinion , it was always going to collapse , but COVID just hastened its demise , as it highlighted starkly that the sport ’ s administrators need to rethink their model of income . When COVID hit and we went into lockdown , two things happened : Firstly , runners chose not to join ( or rejoin ) clubs and refused to pay a
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