Terence Blacker: Let's end the hypocrisy of 'Sport for all'

Arguing that the richer sports become, the better for everyone is utterly bogus

Share

Perhaps, before Olympic madness seriously sets in, we could quietly drop the much-repeated mantra of the Games, "Sport for all". The events of this week have made that principle seem a touch silly, maybe even hypocritical. Far from providing what Lord Coe has called "a symphony of inspiration that will create lasting change", the London Olympics, along with English football's Premier League, have been offering a stirring overture of financial exploitation. The true motto of the moment is "Sport for maximum profit" and, as one has come to expect, it has been those least able to afford it who are being exploited.

When the Government proudly announced that expenditure on London 2012, having been increased, would now come in under budget and that almost half a billion pounds would be returned to the Treasury, it omitted to point out that much of the cash had originally come from the National Lottery. In other words, a neat little transfer of funds has taken place, away from the Big Lottery Fund, which supports communities across the country at a time when they need it most, and into the coffers of the Government, via the London Games. It is, as Jay Kennedy of the Directory of Social Change has said, "an utter outrage – and verging on money laundering".

Another version of the same tune has been played in the world of football where the Premiership clubs have just become massively richer – once again at the expense of the poor old consumer. Selling TV rights for £3.018bn, the Premier League has increased its earnings since the last round of negotiation by a cool 70 per cent. The league's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, who had the grace to be somewhat abashed by the scale of the deal at a time of recession, inevitably trotted out a few Coe-ish platitudes about how some of the money would trickle down to smaller clubs and good works.

The argument that as the hugely rich spectator sports become even richer, the better it is for the rest of us is utterly bogus and unconvincing. Athletes, footballers and other sporting heroes can, indeed, inspire future generations, encouraging them to take pleasure from competition and exercise, but only if the money earned at the top is genuinely shared around.

Instead we see, both in the milking of Olympic money from the Lottery and in the profitable business dealings of the Premier League, a very 21st-century version of sporting excellence. A small number of fortunate people make vast fortunes out of the rest of the population who sit plumply in front of a TV or computer screen.

The Olympics and the best of football should inspire the young to run, jump, ride and play for a fuller life. Instead, thanks to their ruling bodies, they are being encouraged to be spectators and, even more important, consumers.

terblacker@aol.com

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Digital Marketing Manager, Hampstead,London

To £55kpa (12 Month Contract): Charter Selection: Major household name charity...

Service Technician

£30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Energy Sales Co-ordinator

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Energy Sales Consultant

£25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitment Company...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Public sector workers march through Newcastle city centre as they take part in the one-day walkout as part of bitter disputes over pay, pensions, jobs and spending cuts  

The Government’s attitude to the civil service is breathtaking hypocrisy

Chris Blackhurst
Brazil fans are devastated while watching the first half on Copacabana Beach during the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final match between Brazil and Germany on July 8, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner advances to the final at the famed Maracana stadium.  

The response to Brazil's defeat has been a surreal exploration of loss and tragedy

Timothy Kennett
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil