Aug 7 2012

The Price of Sport

The Price of Sport

Last night I watched a Women’s Semi-final football match in Wembley. As someone who’s really caught Olympic fever,even from the Midlands, I was excited just to be there.

The Columbian-American sitting next to me commented on the missed opportunity of the empty seats, and there were great swathes of them. He said how he and fellow American tourists had said how much they would love to buy these leftover tickets on the day and just how much they would be willing to pay for them. Afterall, as he said, we’re here now, what’s a few extra hundred pounds?

Despite these small set backs, I’ve been incredibly impressed so far. London isn’t quite as busy as I expected. However the volunteers are amazingly helpful and friendly- the best sort of ambassadors you could hope for. And on top of all that, we are winning medals. So what  about the legacy? (hard to say without coming over all twenty twelve).

In 2002, 25% of young people were doing at least 2 hours of sport a week. By 2010, that figure was 90%.  Since then the School Sport Survey has been scrapped, Sports Partnerships have been scrapped and Michael Gove has approved the sell-off of 21 out of 22 schools playing fields (since 1998 schools have to get government permission).  So the legacy picture looks not so bright. The changes that have happened over the last couple of years are exactly the reasons the Australian press is currently giving for its poor performance since its home games and 4th position in the medal table.

I’ve blogged about trust a great deal this year. Currently our elite athletes get only a few percent of their funding from commercial sponsorship. Most comes from the National Lottery and the rest from government. As the coalition continues its austerity drive, maybe the commercial players need to be stepping in and filling the gap, so we don’t lose the momentum. Now is the time to capitalise on our successes. I can’t see the government stepping up. Let’s hope someone else does.

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