Monday, 13 August 2012

Olympics post mortem

Well the Olympics TV show is over at last. I am compelled to admit that it seems to have gone much better than I thought – not a shambles as far as I can see from way up here in the Midlands. I watched hardly any of it, but from what little I saw, the thing went smoothly. In spite of my distaste for the Olympics, I’m pleased it wasn’t a mess and there were no major incidents.

But now we have predictable responses from David CameronBoris Johnson, and Ed Miliband demanding more compulsory sport in schools. Why kids should be encouraged to emulate sporting TV stars in the midst of our medals for all culture I've no idea. I suppose a bandwagon is a bandwagon – it doesn’t have to make sense.

What the Olympics has to do with sport, sporting values, healthy living or real life, I’m not quite sure either. It’s only a TV show after all. An expensive and somewhat political TV show to be sure, but that’s all it is. Not something to emulate surely?

Sport is better played than watched on TV. It’s more enjoyable for one thing, but I’m not sure that’s the idea behind those calls for more sport in schools. Nurturing the sporting elite seems to be nearer the mark. Find the stars of the future and dump the rest because their job is to watch and applaud.

To give myself some exposure to this two-faced charade, I watched the climax of the men’s diving.

Hmm – a strange activity in my view.

Dull and repetitive, it’s not even swimming and swimming isn’t exactly edge of the seat stuff. Not only that, but the outcome depends not on a stopwatch, but the opinion of judges. Even so, it’s surely interesting that someone should devote a fair chunk of their life to honing their diving skills to the nth degree in this way.

I’ve no idea who won, but the UK chap won bronze, presumably having made some tiny slips in technique compared to the two chaps who beat him. Presumably he's thrilled to have made fewer tiny slips in technique than lots of other chaps.

Sport is about taking part, except that TV shows such as the Olympics have corrupted the idea of taking part. Taking part has morphed into another and quite different role, taking the part of an audience, a cheering backdrop for the stars. Are schools going to teach that?


Mark Wadsworth said...

Hehe, good rant.

This whole "make kids do more sport" is totally stupid. If it's just a question of us doing well at the Olympics and similar events, then the key is to identify the top 1% of the top 1% reasonably early in life and train them really well.

If it costs £100,000 a year per athlete for 200 athletes, that's £20 million a year, small change in the grander scheme and probably worth it.

If we are to make ten million school children waste two hundred hours a year standing around being bored, then even at a notional cost of £1 per hour then that's £2 billion down the toilet for nothing.

Add on to that notional cost of them not learning something useful like maths or English and the loss to the nation must be clear to see.

Demetrius said...

I see that Brentford lost at Walsall on Saturday. Any other news?

A K Haart said...

Mark - I suspect the Chinese do the select and train version - as you say, much cheaper.

Demetrius - Derby play Scunthorpe tomorrow. My brother has come over from Seattle to watch.

James Higham said...

Sport is better played than watched on TV.

Whole point of it. Yet to see the elite athletes at work is pretty awe-inspiring all the same. It does inspire.

A K Haart said...

James - it does inspire, but so do really good amateurs when you see them live, people you may aspire to emulate.