Whenever you ask somebody if they find sports important, they always answer positive, no matter their own physique 😉
The mind of mankind works in mysterious ways though, because if you then ask people to pay for the participation in sport events, workshops or seminars they tend to react negative.
During the organization of sport events I experienced the opposite…..let me explain:
In my job, working for the Olympic Committee, I used to organize a yearly Olympic Day Run, with the goal to let young and old participate in a recreational activity to promote sports in general. Winning the race or walk was not a priority, and as such we didn’t have any prices. In the beginning (about 10 years ago) we did not charge any entrance fee, in order to get as many participants as possible. With support of our sponsors we managed to give every participant a free T-shirt, drinks, fruit and of course the official Olympic certificate. What I experienced though, was that year after year the number of participants always was much lower than the persons who registered initially.
In other words, there were lots of people with the intention to participate, but they never made it !
Now we realized that if we kept organizing this event the same way, the outcome (number of participants) would also stay the same, so we decided to charge a fee. The reason behind this was to get the registrants to commit themselves with actual money to participate.
For reasons that we never really knew, the number of participants increased, and we didn’t have any complaints that we charged a registration fee. The next year we even raised the fee and again we got more participants!
Sport management courses
With the annual organization of a sport management course we experienced exactly the same. When we offered this course for free, the participation was low, and so was the commitment and interaction with the students. People didn’t finish the course, and basically were not motivated at all. But when we charged a registration fee for exactly the same course, somehow we got another type of sport volunteers, who were serious to finish the course, and saw the value of educating and upgrading themselves.
I know that these two experiences are in no way scientifically proven, but I know for a fact that people perceive things different when they need to pay for a service or product. You may expect them to dislike the fact that they need to pay, but my experiences show you the opposite.
What I think is the case, is that whenever people need to pay, subconsciously they value the service (product or event) of a higher quality.
So my advice is to STOP offering sport activities for FREE. First of all there are expenses that need to be covered, like sport materials, coaches or handbooks. Secondly we live in a time that most of us are accustomed to paying for quality. And if there are people who really can’t afford the costs, there should be always a way to get them on board.
So, what do you think….do you agree? Perhaps you have the same experience? I would appreciate it if you share your comment(s) in the section below.