Thursday, August 16, 2012

UK Sport - only fund the winners?

With out medal haul at the Olympics we are showing the world that the UK still excels at sporting events; well at least our privately educated populace at least. I'm sure this disparity where 33% of our medals came from a privileged 7% of our population will change for the next Olympics. After all it's not as if there are any funding cuts being made to the bodies that provide for the majority is there? Oh.

Well at least they're not picking on the sports that didn't do as well in the Olympics as we'd hoped for. Ah.

There's a couple of small problems with this approach. Consider the our medal tally in the Beijing Olympics. Using that logic funding would be pulled from Diving, Hockey, Judo, Shooting, Tennis, and the Triathlon; none of whom received medals at that event. Yet they did in the London Olympics.

See sport is like stocks and shares - past performance is not necessarily an indicator of future performance. The team that competed just isn't necessarily going to be the same as the team that will compete; particularly given the 4 year time frame and the high age-burnout nature of a lot of the events.

If we're not careful we run into self-fulfilling prophecies. If we only fund those sports that have proven themselves then oddly enough they stand a better chance of winning; thus proving we were right in funding them and that we should continue to do so to the detriment of the 'losers'.

Okay we can't fund everything and decisions have to be made, but we just have to be wary that we don't fall into the 'only back known winners' approach or we end up undermining the entire spirit of the Olympics.