Saturday, 11 August 2012

What does it all mean?

The weekend papers will be taking a common meme in trying to find a wider meaning to Britain's Olympic medal success. Is this indicative of Britain's broader superiority over Germany and France? Are we punching above our weight in the world? Do the results signal a renaissance in the UK's economic fortune? Government ministers are falling over themselves to announce more compulsory sport for children, and no doubt Whitehall mandarins as I write are drafting detailed prescriptive instructions to be sent to every headteacher in the country specifying exactly how many cricket bats, tennis nets and rugby balls should be held per pupil head.

In the post-games analysis never will the Chinese saw "Success has many fathers while failure is an orphan" be more proven. Every politician in the country will be elbowing a path to be identified with the country's medal success; Cameron and Boris are locked in a furious struggle to be more photographed at weekend games events than the other, and even socialists who secretly loathe the idea of competitive sports are grinning and struggling to crowd the podium pics. Even the vile and toxic Blair may pop up in the news claiming his part in the success. The coaches, families and small-scale sponsors of our winning athletes will be trampled in the stampede of publicity-crazed politicians as the contest draws to a close. 

Charles Moore in the Telegraph this morning manages the rare feat of coming close to the answer but then veers off into cliche. "Again and again, the pattern has been that a few people take up something – kicking a bladder, whacking a ball with a stick, jumping over a pole – for fun....... Almost none of this was done by government. It was worked out by the Marylebone Cricket Club or the Marquess of Queensberry or the Royal Pigeon Racing Association, and by hundreds more ad hoc individuals and bodies."

Burke's little platoons in other words have nurtured and kept alive grass-roots sports; Alf Tupper's Greystoke Harriers Club, the little yacht clubs around the coast with programmes of Summer dinghy racing, a local group of cyclists banding together to pester the local highways department, with their fetes and bring-and-buys and sponsored parachute jumps, aided by committed families, supported by the local ironmongers or animal feed merchants.  

In the end, all Cameron's prescriptive central State diktats, and all Whitehall's volumes of detailed compulsory sports regulations will achieve nothing except a wasteful bleed of taxes. I wouldn't even be surprised if Cameron set up a new sports quango - the 'Sports Commission' perhaps -  with half a billion a year in salaries and a swank glass office in Victoria. For there is nothing, absolutely nothing, into which the central State and its political class can resist sticking their grasping little fingers.  

12 comments:

right_writes said...

Yeah Raedwald... We are punching above our weight...

just like East Germany used to! Perhaps there are more likenesses?

BTW: Another of your prose masterpieces sir!

TrT said...

Who deserves the credit?
Major

Funding Olympic Sport through the Lottery was his brainchild, we just outspent everyone we beat, simples

DeeDee99 said...

Terrific comment Raedwald. I am now waiting for your prediction about the Sports Commission ..... running a sweepstake on how long it will take to announce?

Put me down for Wednesday 9th October - the third day of the Tory Conference.

Demetrius said...

Cough cough, run the figures at cost per medal or cost per gold first of the Olympics as a whole and then to constrast the money put into sports by government, directly and indirectly. Add the highly selective nature of the spending and effort. You get what you paid for.

anon 2 said...

All this compulsion of schoolchildren.

First those despicable "social" outlooks for which they must toe the line. Well if anybody compelled me to put children through what now passes for education, I might start giving some revolutionary ideas to people who don't want to do it--because my children would undoubtedly inherit my bloody-mindedness.

Compulsory Sports? Actually, it was compulsory at my grammar (girls') grammar school, but all they did was make me hate it.

Fortunately, the doctor said I mustn't do gym because it dislocated my toes. (Mercifully, because got me out of that disgusting business of naked group-showering).

When it came to playing hockey on the frozen pitch... I couldn't last more than ten minutes, I got so sick from the cold air in my throat and chest; I also was in danger of passing out from the pain in my bloodless extremities. It took me the next two classes to recover.

Rounders was best though. I made absolutely sure that no one, ever, would want me on their team. Every time that lethal ball came in my direction.... I ran the other way. :)

So what would they do to a girl like me nowadays? Prison? Clap me in irons and drag me to the euro travesty of Justice: so that I could express my contempt of them, in some way? Begin a life-long program of 'spiritual murder' [defamation against me? Just plain shoot me?

I still wouldn't care. I'd rather be dead than be physically or mentally "sporty." Or, indeed, than becoming any of the perverted things that marxists compel "everyone" to be.

Anon 2 said...

Sorry... "because that got me out of...").

Anonymous said...

Everywhere and everyday, like DDR East Germany in every play.

G. Tingey said...

Little platoons of grass-roots sports.
Yes.
But.
Important - VERY IMPORTANT.

ALL VOLUNTEERS
NO COMPULSION

Whereas the politicos, left & right are talling about COMPULSORY SPURTS, forced on the unwillin unable & uninterested.
Just a slight difference.

Anon - you also forgot the other supreme example of this shit.
Berlin, 1936.

( & the DDR WAS E Germany - tuatology! )

Nigel said...

Usual high standard Raedwald! I got a little sidetracked with the image though. I diverted down memory lane to the Alf Tupper website and read through 'The early years of Alf Tupper'. It can surely be said that the truth is found in unexpected places.

Anthony Harrison said...

Anon2's reminiscence rang a bell - I was at a boys' grammar in the '60s and of course they all tried like hell to ape what they thought was the public school ethos, so lots of sport, nasty changing rooms, primitive showers, total intolerance of dissent... As soon as I discovered that rugby entailed running around half naked in the freezing cold (often literally) bashing into people, doubt grew in my mind. As with Anon2, it put me off sport for a very long time - the damn shame is that I do play a sport now and I love it, wish I'd taken it up decades ago, but those school experiences took a long time to live down.
Raedwald is right - all the cheap politicos weill be vying with one another to see who can trump the others' suggestions about compulsory timetabling of sport... Was Boris serious about 2 hours daily? Surely not - bonkers even for him.

right_writes said...

@anon2...

"So what would they do to a girl like me nowadays?"

You would probably be asked to take part in the "two minute hate".

Dembones said...

Lord Coe is expected to do rather nicely http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/aug/12/seb-coe-olympics-legacy-ambassador