I’m not particularly into sport, it’s true. I watch very little of it, don’t really follow what’s going on and don’t tend to read about it. However, I’ve recently become interested in the politics behind the sporting headlines because a) I believe everything is political and b) the Olympics is proving to be bloody amazing! What a fantastic televised visual of all that is inspirational!
The irony felt at watching Boris Johnson on a zip wire with his underpants stuffed under his armpits and David Cameron basking in the glory of athletic success that he has contributed little or nothing too, was becoming a little nauseating for me.
It is said that we should keep the politics out of sport but I’m not certain that this is possible.
How have we somehow managed to create this incredible crop of an athletic generation? It seems that per head of the population, Britain is one of the most successful sporting nations.
In 1996, on the back of 17 years of a Tory government, we came 36th in the Olympics held in Atlanta, the worst ever performance in the games. The under investment from those years can be epitomised by the selling off of 10,000 school sports playing fields, no central school sport system, crumbling sports facilities and poor school links.
In 10 years under New Labour (from 1997 -2007), the situation was changed dramatically.
- 86 per cent of 5-16s doing two hours of PE and sport each week
- 3,000 Community Sports Coaches
- 450 School Sport Partnerships
- 90 Competition Manager Co-ordinators and over 18,000 link teachers
- Over 1.5 billion invested (http://www.sportsthinktank.com/uploads/labour-sports-manifesto.pdf
- The establishment of Youth Sports Trust
Traditionally sport was the reserve of the elite for two reasons. Firstly, because they could afford to take part time jobs or be ‘professional’ and secondly because the access to sports facilities at private or independent schools far superseded what the state sector was offering.
Like it or not, the policies of the Last Government laid the foundations for the sustained success of the British sports men and women that we saw in Beijing four years ago with an unprecedented 19 Gold Medals (47 in total), which will be surpassed at the games of the 30th Olympiad, London 2012.
With this in mind, lets hope that our current Government ‘s austerity programme doesn’t do to much damage to the progress made that we are all celebrating united as a winning country.
Remember, there is a political dimension to almost everything in this life….
“You may not be interested in war (read Politics) but war is interested in you” Trotsky