A sporting revolution is upon us

A sporting revolution is upon us, or at least a detailed plan for one. While we can still not quite provide our young, sporting athletes with the facilities that almost all other universities offer, we now have reinvigorated hope that one day, we will.

The news that the University are finally living up to their promise to provide the students of York with sporting facilities beyond those usually found in a primary school playground will undoubtedly be greeted with a universal chorus of ‘Hurrah’ across campus. There may be shouting in the streets. I’ve even heard rumour that York sporting alumni (apparently called ‘Yorkies’) are planning to return to celebrate this jubilant moment with us. After all, this has been a long time coming.

Too long have the sporting clubs of York, as well as the general student populous, put up with makeshift facilities, a sub-standard gym and a non-existent swimming pool. For a University with such an active and diverse sports community, there really was little justification in ignoring the increasingly disheveled sports centre, sitting isolated on the edge of campus. The fact that membership for this inadequate facility continues to rise every year merely rubs salt in the athletes’ wounds.

And yet, it seems we are all about to be rewarded for our year(s) of sports related hardship. No longer will we be forced to bite our tongues when Southampton-partyschool-University talks about their multi-million pound gym with their supersonic weights and glistening pool.

Now we too will have 4G pitches and Olympic sized swimming pools. Indeed, the beauty centre and spa are only two of the many wonderous and strangely futuristic facilities Commercial Services are promising to bestow on our humble campus.

David Lloyd will be crying into their overpriced coffee and jacuzzis.

And yet, everything may not be as bright and sunny as it initially appears. While there is little doubt that a new sports village will be of enormous benefit to both the University and students, the astronomical cost of such facilities has meant that the University has had to go in search of additional private funding. It is a strategy that, while providing a quick and easy remedy to the financing difficulties, is not the wonderful solution many claim it to be.

David Lloyd will be crying into their overpriced coffee and jacuzzis

Currently, the spending of the University towards the project is only just above that of the local council, which will essentially mean that locals will be just as entitled to the facilities as the students as York. And you can imagine how that will end.

Despite numerous news articles and attempts by both students and YUSU to reach out to the locals, York’s town and gown problm continues to be an issue. My neighbours are fond of leaving little notes on our front door with helpful suggestions like “don’t leave your bins out” or “perhaps time to mow the lawn?”

I can just imagine Mr and Mrs Next Door tapping me on the shoulder while on the treadmill and whispering “perhaps time to wash your hair?” Just what everyone needs during their workout.

If we are being honest, one has to question whether a beauty treatment centre built entirely for Yummy Mummies is really a good use of both the University and Council’s budget

While, theoretically, I have no objection to sharing our new sports grounds with the charming local residents of Heslington and Osbaldwick, there is a further concern that they will be prioritised over students, bringing in more profit for the private investors than the beautifully reduced student rates.

First and foremost, the facilities should be completely open and available to the sports clubs.

It becomes entirely pointless for the University to invest several million in a 4G pitch if clubs are only allowed to make use of the facilities at ‘off-peak’ times, or have to compete with outside sports teams renting the space.

Almost all sports teams are suffering from lack of funds at the moment. If they are forced to compete financially with other, privately financed, clubs, they will lose out.

Similarly, as luxurious as spending an indulgent afternoon soaking up the surroundings of a campus beauty spa sounds, in reality, the expensive cost of the treatments is hardly student appropriate.

Furthermore, if we are being honest, one has to question whether a beauty treatment centre built entirely for Yummy Mummies is really a good use of both the University and Council’s budget.

As much as I see the necessity of bringing in funding from outside, the Univeristy must ensure that the sports village doesn’t lose its student focus. York does not need another over-priced health club filled with pilates-practicing yuppies and their bratty children.

So while we celebrate the imminent revitalisation of our campus sports facilities (and resolve to finally join the gym when it is completed) Commercial Services need work to strike a balance between pursuit of profit and working towards enhancing the York student experience.

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