And the gold medal for band wagon racing goes to….

As the closing ceremony approaches you can hear the sound of politicians hitching a ride on the sporting bandwagons that were inevitable after such a successful Olympic Games. I take my hat off to the folks who have made the London 2012 games a success to douse  our British pessimism. It has been a triumph of planning and delivery on every level, apart from when the public sector had to bail out the private security operators  G4S. Even a ‘sportsphobe’ like me has been gripped by the action on the lakes and sea, in the pool, on the track, on the fields, in the ring and at the velodrome  – still can’t be doing with the horsey stuff though! Women’s sporting prowess has come up the media agenda for a short while and the genuine joy of the winners and the crowds has gladdened my heart. There are things I wish hadn’t happened such as the sponsorship deals with fast food and fizzy drinks, not to mention the alleged sweat shop labour to produce our Team GB strip but enough of that, it is time to think of the legacy promised in our pitch. Already we have heard the calls for the return of at least 2 hours sport per week in schools, we have heard the championing of the return to competition at all ages and we have heard the cries for ‘proper sport’. But what is this for? It appears to be aimed at a desire to do ‘even better’ at the games in Rio; and that is why I think the bandwagons should just stop and take a look at a decent map before charging off down a slippery slope. Yes I agree we need time for children to run around and get sweaty, we need them to learn the joy of working together for a greater good, we need them to be able to be physically healthy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we need to demand that every child at primary school should play competitive team games or be able to run a 100 meters in less that 10 seconds or whatever it is. We are not all destined to be ‘sporty’; we do not teach children to write so they can all become famous authors, we do it so they can cope with everyday living and working enjoying the fact that some will take it further. Give children the basics for fitness and by all means inspire them to do more, but don’t forget about those who have no interest in team sports and who do want to dance to keep fit! The legacy should start from that point. Yes, we should look at making sporting facilities accessible to those who want to use them but it should not be about compulsion. The legacy needs to consider what makes up sporting success in the round. We should not just value the sporting ‘heroes’ themselves but seek to develop and value those who provide the infrastructure without putting their body through tortuous training regimes – the nutritionists, the administrators, the scientists, the coaches, the cleaners, the groundsmen and women…..the games makers. The legacy, for me is about showing future generations that it is not just about the winning at whatever it is you do, it is the taking part behind the scenes as well as on the stage. It is about cheering the people who try hard at whatever they do (in daily life or in sports) but don’t quite make it, it is about cheering excellence even if it is not your team. The legacy of these games is about the pleasure generated and the true sportsmanship demonstrated by everyone doing their best, even if it is not THE best. Oh, and a marker for our country’s main sporting obsession – footballers and fans alike, take note of what has happened in the last couple of weeks, you have a lot to learn…..

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3 thoughts on “And the gold medal for band wagon racing goes to….

      • Indeed, just happened to be reading about 22 playing field closures this year. Seems ludicrous to lose that sort of land, when money is going to be poured into converting elements of the Olympic park into non-sporting facilities, bizarre really.

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