This post is about my personal frustration with (official) sports sponsoring and sports-related scholarships in Germany. I needed to put my thoughts into words, for my own sake and to make it at least a bit more public.
This is my personal blog and therefore my opinion. In addition, I am personally affected by what I am writing about, so don´t expect a fully unbiased opinion. However, I am trying to be objective and am happy to be pointed out corrections. I also want to point out that I am certainly not the first one talking about this topic.
With official sports sponsoring for the individual athlete, I mean financial support from official sources and not private sponsoring, like from companies or individual private donors. In the case of Germany or North-Rhine-Westphalia (my home state) this is the Sporthilfe and NRW-Sportstiftung. This sponsoring can be attached to an ongoing education for the athlete in form of a ‘classic’ university-type scholarship or be just attached to sporting performances and successes. To be clear I am not talking about federation level funding which comes from the Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for sports.
A key difference in German sports funding is that they differentiate between Olympic-, Worldgames- and basically all other sports. This generally makes sense but at the same time is the difference in funding between Olympic and Worldgames sports huge which is only somewhat understandable. The latter point is especially true for the individual athlete in a Worldgames sport (like me) because it is basically impossible for me to get financial support from the Sporthilfe. This is because the requirements are quite high to be qualified for such support, namely the athlete must be part of the absolute top-level in the world of their sport for multiple years. Even then, there is still a formal process around this where the athlete and its federation have to apply for such funding, and it will then be evaluated by the funding organization. I got this information by writing a request to the Sporthilfe for more information about this topic, as I was unable to (easily) find any exact specification online.
While I understand that there is a formal process around it, I don´t understand the high level of requirements. I mean, being part of the top for multiple years is difficult in any sport but getting there without any prior support seems rather unrealistic in the first place.
As written in previous posts, I want to point out that I am not in for the money but ruining myself financially over time while officially representing Germany on the international level seems less and less attractive to me.
Another problem with the requirements is that they are in parts quite generalized which can benefit some sport over the other. For example, have different sports at the Worldgames different numbers of competitors as well as a different number of competitions/disciplines. This means that an 8th place in one sport is not the same as an 8th place in another sport. But this is another whole debate on its own…
I knew most of this already, or in big part expected it to be like that. I don´t agree with it but I used to just accept it. What tipped me off the edge in the last days though, was that the last option there was to get some kind of financial support in form of education-scholarships was changed in ways that it now impossible for me to receive it.
This is especially strange because in previous years there was the Germany-Scholarship where each university usually had a few spots reserved for national-team athletes and as far as I remembered there was no limitation on if the athlete was competing in an Olympic or Worldgames sport. Last year this changed, as the Germany-Scholarship had no athlete reserved spots anymore but a new NRW-wide sport-scholarship was introduced offering the same 300€ per month, however requiring an athlete to be part of an Olympic national-team.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might remember my hope was to receive such support by the end of this year because they said they will make changes to the funding system. And they did, athletes (in/from NRW) from Worldgames sports who are also studying will now also be eligible for such support which is even 250€ (base-support) + 300€ per month. The catch though is, that they also introduced an age-limit or more specifically a limitation of the Kader-Level of the athlete. And thus, my chances of receiving any such support went from low to dead-zero.
So yes, this is super frustrating to me for two reasons the obvious one being that I am slowly digging myself a financial ditch [sic] and the other major point is that the financial support would have a lot of symbolic value – my efforts being officially recognized.
Title-photo by Janis Ligats at Lieldienu-balva, 28.08.2021