BC flubs the budget for young athletes

The projected budget for British Columbia’s post-secondary schools over the next three years is $743 million in 2010-2011, $485 million in 2011-2012, and $413 million in 2012/2013. This decrease each year is sure to affect Capilano University as a whole, though some departments may suffer more than others. Post-Secondary Institutions (PSI’s) do not have a separate category from general education in the area of funding through discretionary grants (grants awarded through a competitive process, by application and formal review of all applicants). Because of this generalization of the education system in BC, specific departments such as Sports and Arts are not individually recognized for their need of funding. Adding to the list of headaches for PSI’s in British Columbia is the lack of contingency in the provincial education budget, which funds are instead being allowed to pay for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, First Nations and Gaming costs.

The Contingencies budget is an overall allowance for the province for the three-year plan of spending projections, of which $30 million is expected to be provided to facilitate increased youth participation in sports, through improved athlete and coach development. $69 million out of an available $125 million in contingency for the 2009/2010 fiscal year was given directly to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As a startling contrast to the aforementioned $30 million over three years to increase youth participation in sports, $124 million, more than three times that amount, in the next two fiscal years is being taken from provincial finances as part of an “indirect provincial commitment to increase provincial share of federal/provincial infrastructure costs” towards the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Overall, $2.7 billion in provincial funds are being invested, separately from the above mentioned “provincial share” in transportation infrastructure specifically over the next three years, including further bus fleet expansion in the Lower Mainland as well as $60 million towards furthering the development of the Canada Line rapid transit system.

It seems that the future Olympic athletes of BC, many who try to develop at the post-secondary level, will be struggling in the coming three years to receive the same development opportunities as those both one skill level above and one skill level below them.

Is this a logical way to consider future investments with the Olympics, of which the 2010 Winter Games were promised to be such a province-wide beneficial venture? Overall, the government’s total financial commitment towards the costs of staging the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is $765 million for ’08-’09 to ’11-’12, in comparison to the $43 million to College and University level sports programs from ’08-’09 and ’10-‘11.

The 2010 BC Budget and Fiscal Plan outline arts and culture to include sports, naming the category the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts (MTCA). This new development in categorization allows the provincial government to blandly state that “The province recognizes arts, culture and sports as core values in our society ... British Columbians also recognize sports, not only as recreation and entertainment, but also as a way to build civic pride. Children tend to experience the most significant benefits from becoming involved in the arts and sports. According to Statistics Canada, children who participate in organized activities outside of school, such as sports or the arts, tend to have higher self-esteem, interact better with friends and perform better in school.”

Though the benefits of childhood development are no doubt important to our society, one may ask why the government fails to mention the development of young adults while in university, through sports and arts programs. If elementary and high-school athletes are the future university athletes, university athletes are the future Olympians, and need all of the support they can get to reach their goals.

//Meagan Bibby

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com