Is it that time already?
There’s something about the Olympics that tempts me into watching too much TV. I see that GB won a silver in the women’s weightlifting (the frightening 87+kg class) and I’m told by Number One Son that she used to be a shot putter at the athletics club when he was a member. We had a couple of women in the top ten earlier in the competition. An interesting thing in the various stories is the difficulty with funding. However, they seem to have put it all together and while the expensive efforts of the rowing team came to nothing (and seem to have ended in acrimony) the women weightlifters can all be proud of their efforts.
There have been some great stories in the is Olympics, as well as some lessons in the double-edged nature of investing heavily in sport.
It was interesting to read something by Dame Katherine Grainger on Lottery Funding for sport. She said that when she started in the rowing team in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics the rest of the team members all had jobs or overdrafts or family to help them live as they trained. She, from the outset, was funded from the National Lottery money. (I use the word Dame because it seems polite, not because I agree with our honours system or think that the current crop of titles handed out to Olympians is appropriate).
It was refreshing to find that some of our athletes, such as Bethany Shriever and Charlotte Worthington, have had proper jobs and have struggled to get to Tokyo.
I agree, it is a complicated system, for sure. There are costs and benefits to any approach.
I have heard that the Finns have stopped funding elite sport and put the money into community projects instead. I would approve of that but the British government would regard providing community facilities as dangerously communistic unlike state funding for elite athletes which is somehow acceptable. Long live gold medals and knife crime. MInd you, the BMX track turned out to be a good investment.
The trouble with running community projects is that not all the community appreciates them. They stole two sets of rugby posts for scrap and drove a motorcycle right through a junior practice session when we tried it.
Not enough facilities for everyone then.
The optimist in me says that it should be possible to reach a tipping point where the community gets behind the efforts of the local clubs. The realist just wants to cry at thoughts of all the wasted years.
The strong message over the years from the right wing press and from some strains of the Christian community that the “undeserving” poor only have themselves to blame and don’t deserve any assistance because they will only waste it has had a big influence on how communities are built and sustained. I know several sensible people who firmly believe that everyone on benefits is a scrounger who is sitting in a luxurious council flat watching a big screen telly and laughing at them. The fact that they may well be getting benefits themselves (free tv licence (how they complained when that went), bus pass, pension etc) doesn’t alter their opinion at all.
Julia once managed to get the money to perform building repairs on a community centre she ran. Next time it rained she found that the local residents had been on the roof and had stripped al the lead out of the gullies.I have no way of knowing whether they were on benefit or not, but they didn’t, in my opinion, deserve help.
I can see why you might feel that.
I really admire the workers who spend their lives doing this sort of thing – I just don’t have the mental stamina required.
It is a very complicated system. I can’t say exactly how Australian Olympians are financed. There are so many bits here and there.
It was nice when we started winning more medals but now it’s getting out of hand. Eddie the Eagle is my ideal Olympian. Or Eric the Eel, When you realise how he had to train you realise how privileged we are.
The more I see of it the sadder I am about the departure from the original spirit of it all
True. They used to have art competitions too, but discontinued them because artists were “professionals”.
That I didn’t know
It’s a fascinating subject, though I only become interested every four years. 🙂