Playing for the game, not the medals

Mr Basil Kentish
Monday 17 July 1995 23:02

From Mr Basil Kentish

Sir: I am in the course of writing a biography of my uncle, Brig-Gen R. J. Kentish, who, apart from other things, founded the National Playing Fields Association in 1924, under the auspices of the Duke of York (later King George VI).

The aim of the association was to provide adequate facilities for open- air recreation in and around every city, town and village in the country. It was hoped that young people would no longer have to play their games in the streets of our overcrowded town and cities.

He was chagrined during the 1939-1945 war to see so many playing grounds ploughed up or used for military purposes. What has happened since is problematical but your paper reports ("Lottery to fund pounds 100m sporting academy", 15 July) that 5,000 playing grounds have been sold since 1979. It is almost unbelievable.

John Major is quite right to want to encourage sports and games for the young, but is a pounds 100m Academy of Sport a necessary part of this? Competitive games encourage the desire to win at all costs, with the temptation to use drugs. My uncle's aim in 1924 was to improve the health of the nation by giving everyone a chance to play a game for the game's sake. Mens sana in corpore sano was his motto; a much more praiseworthy ideal than an attempt to break the tape in an Olympic final.

Yours faithfully,

Basil Kentish


17 July

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