The value of sports: U.K. vs. U.S.

December 7, 2016 — by Esha Lakhotia and Katherine Zhou

Sports are well known to be beneficial: helping student  athletes to excel in all areas while maintaining physical health. In some countries, though, the importance of sports is overlooked, and the students there miss out on the benefits that sports offer.

Take, for example, the United Kingdom. Because of the lack of emphasis of college sports in the U.K., many students put the importance of athletics as a lesser priority.

In America, the recruiting process for college sports is well established as a way to get into college. Recruitment consists of emailing recruiters back and forth, campus tours and formal interviews. Every year, thousands of athletes around the U.S. go through this extensive process in the hopes of getting recruited by colleges.

In the U.K., however, there is little importance in getting into college for students, and very few sport-related scholarships are given.

According to the Bleacher Report, a San Francisco-based sports news website, college sports are the most highly regarded in the U.S.

For example, British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), the largest collegiate sports body in the U.K. has 158 Universities, while in the U.S., the largest organization for collegiate sports is the NCAA, which includes 360 colleges and universities within its membership.

Although there has been an increase in U.K. sport scholarships in the past decade, most major universities, including Cambridge and Oxford, still do not give out scholarships for sports. In contrast, an athlete in the U.S. can receive $10,000 or more in a sports scholarships, making college possible at schools like Stanford and UC Berkeley for those who couldn’t otherwise attend them.

The only universities in the U.K. that even come close to offering such great amounts of money are Loughborough and Bath. Loughborough’s offer is the more generous with £3,000 toward course fees, £1,000 toward living expenses and £250 for memberships and free parking around the campus, but that’s just one university out of hundreds.

When colleges allow an opportunity for students to get into their institution based on their athletic skill, it encourages them to try out sports in order to increase chances to get into college.

The other benefits of athletics are widely well known. A survey conducted by the Minnesota State High School League in 2007 found that the average GPA of a high school athlete was 2.84, while a student who was not involved in athletics had an average GPA of 2.68, and missed less school than non-athletes.

I think that the U.K. and other countries should definitely try to give their college athletes scholarships to help struggling families pay for education,” said senior Kevin Yu, who is committed to play soccer at Carnegie Mellon University next fall. “However, I feel like some countries don't have that luxury to give scholarships out because their economy is struggling.”

Overall, college sports in the U.K. are nothing compared to the vast athlete programs in U.S. colleges. In Saratoga, high-performing student athletes like Yu are thankful for benefits given to him because of his athletic abilities

In order for students to perform better in school and in life, supporting sports financially is a good idea for all colleges — in the U.S. and abroad.