During the week Lars Sperling sits at the Landessportbund Berlin (LSB) in Schöneberg and has a lot to say. It’s about the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on sport. Sperling stuck yellow marks on his many notes. He was in the middle of his presentation when he was asked to end the show so the others could speak as well.
Sperling is the office manager of the Kaizen Judo Club in Berlin and has played a lot in recent years. Virus, infection protection measures, club resignations, strategies to win back ex-members, financial concerns, bureaucratic efforts to mitigate them, and, and, and. Sperling had to put a lot of passion and energy into keeping the store running. That’s why he carries a lot of scraps of paper with him.
But above all, one sentence from him still stuck: “Children are back from the obesity epidemic.” Like many other areas of society, sport has had to suffer in recent years. They were blacked out, especially in the show, and completely suspended for long periods. “The sport took place. I played polar bears, foxes and Hertha,” says Thomas Hartell, president of LSB. This is how the impression was formed: the sport was not particularly affected. “But many children and young people have suffered.” In other words: attention has been paid to competitive sports, and to a lesser extent to popular sports.
Hertel, together with Fredhard Teefel, Director of LSB, organized the press tour with a few representatives of the clubs to spread the good news from the sport of Berlin. And there it is: the sport in the capital is on the move again, it is even growing. Of the 33,000 members who left clubs in the first year of the pandemic, two-thirds have returned. Berlin clubs currently have 684,298 members. That’s a 3.4 percent increase, or Schnaps’ number of 22,222 members, over the previous year. The numbers are the result of LSB statistics as of January 1, 2022.
Massive stagnation in membership
Designated club representatives like Sperling also have good things to report. Sperling reports that there has been a significant drop in membership in the sport of full contact judo, including kaizen. The losses have now been compensated for. And not only that: Kaizen has managed to win quite a few coaching positions. Even the club came out of the pandemic stronger.
Necessity welds together — and makes it iconic. Digital training videos were supposed to replace regular on-site training, which is no longer allowed. But above all: “We communicated with each other more than ever,” says Sperling.
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And Christopher Krenert of the TSC Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg can’t even “get off the waiting list”. More people want to join his club than he can accommodate. “If we had more options, doubling our membership wouldn’t be a problem,” he says. Krähnert also means the sports facilities available, but also the staff.
Volunteer coaches and assistant coaches in particular are running sports across the board. The epidemic reinforced this development. “The issue of volunteering will play a central role for us in the future,” says LSB President Hertel. In addition, schools with a shortage of teachers are hunting more and more coaches from organized sports. However, after years of frustration caused by the pandemic, a spirit of optimism reigns in the popular sport.
The club’s exit in health sports has not been compensated to this day
But things did not go well for all the clubs like Kaizen or Berliner TSC. Invitation to Sabine Hurdler from Vital Lichtenberg. “It remains to be seen whether we have weathered the epidemic well,” she says. “We are still struggling with it.” Vital Berlin offers health sports, such as prevention or rehabilitation courses. As with other clubs with a similar portfolio, membership in Vital is more related to the course. This means that if a cycle is cancelled, there is no good reason for members to remain in it. In health sports, for example, there have been mass resignations from clubs that have not been compensated to this day. This is also the case with Vital Berlin.
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Sabine Hurdler talks about many difficult months in Vital Berlin. This sport, which is very important for many people, can sometimes not be offered at all, and sometimes it is very discounted for several months. It was also a tough time for coaches. The number of participants in the course was significantly reduced due to measures to protect against infection, which meant that the number of courses had to be increased. “The coaches sometimes had to do twice as many courses as they did before the pandemic,” Hordler says. “Same pay.” But Hürdler doesn’t want to complain too much. On the contrary, she is also grateful. “Without public funding for the sport, we wouldn’t exist anymore.”
It is now vital to recover the missing organs. Direction in the right direction. This applies to all sports organized in Berlin anyway.